Academic Integrity

Using Case Studies to Teach about Academic Integrity

It is a common and effective practice to contexualize academic integrity for students using clear and relevant cases that bring home the relevance and applicability of these principles in and beyond the classroom.

Cases from Current Events and/or Professional Practice

Make the connections of the case to learning and assessment explicit, otherwise students may not see how the same principles and concerns apply to their own conduct as students.

Some guiding questions for selecting or developing a good case:

    1. What forms of academic and professional misconduct happen in your field?
    2. What would happen as a result?
    3. What are some reasons this occurs?
    4. What are the ways professionals overcome these issues?
    5. Why is this important?
    6. How does students acting with academic integrity connect to this issue?

Cases from Common Academic Misconduct Scenarios faced by Students

Choose scenarios that deal with the types of misconduct errors that are most concerning or relevant to the assessments in your course.

Better cases for lively discussion will:

  • include acknowledgement of the pressures students can be under when they make bad decisions; and/or
  • be open to interpretation to some degree, possibly with several variables or allowing for different perspectives or assessments of seriousness.

Some questions for digging deeper on academic misconduct cases may be:

  • What is another example, perhaps that is perplexing or ambiguous to you or others, that we could discuss next?
  • What concerns you, as students, about these kinds of mistakes?
  • What do you need from your instructor to avoid these mistakes on the assessments in this course?
  • What are all the places/people/services that could you and your classmates go for help?

Setting up a Case-based Activity

  1. Select the case(s), options are
    • Provide students with several, ask them to choose the most interesting one;
    • Assign each group with a different case; or
    • Assign each group the same case.
  2. Divide students into small groups 3-4 (or, if synchronous remote, do a quick random assignment to break out rooms)
  3. Provide guiding questions that explore interpretation, seriousness and/or surface ambiguity.
  4. Ask students to connect the breach of expectations in the case with definitions in the Academic Misconduct Regulations.
  5. Report out small group discussion (remote or not, this can be done using a shared document or another collaborative tool)
  6. Conclude with a crystal clear message about your rules for your specific assessments, why you have them in place, how students can ask for and get help, and what you will do if you suspect academic misconduct.  Note:  It can help also at this point to acknowledge that student encounter wide-ranging teaching practices and approaches to matters of academic integrity and that this can provide a real mix of messages that become confusing. 

Available Cases and Scenarios

Several Canadian universities and colleges have developed cases to assist in dialogue about matters of academic integrity.  Here are some that you may want to use or adapt (with attribution)



Here, at USask…

…The Library developed and hosts an Academic Integrity Tutorial that also uses scenarios and has videos that can be used for specific instruction.

For more on this

If you are interested in talking further about ideas for case-based teaching of academic integrity (in-person and remote), contact at the GMCTL.

At the 2nd Canadian Symposium for Academic Integrity, hosted by Thompson Rivers University, on June 22 and 23, 2021, a presentation by Langara College brought this helpful resource titled Encouraging Academic Integrity Through a Preventative Framework into view.