Charles Lipson
 
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E-mail: [email protected]

Voice: 773.702.8053

Fax:    773.702.1689

 

Charles Lipson

Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago

5828 S. University Ave.

Chicago, IL 60637

 

Helping Your Students Do Honest Work
(a talk for faculty, advisers, and administrators)

Academic honesty and integrity is an old subject with a new urgency. It's old because honesty has always been central to teaching and learning, central to the trust that binds students and faculty together in the university. It has a new urgency because plagiarized work is growing, much of it downloaded from the Internet. With a few clicks, students can cut-and-paste sentences from online encyclopedias, buy answer books for their assigned texts, or purchase entire papers.

The problem is compounded by another fact of university life: larger class sizes. Although large classes save money, they make it harder to supervise student work. It's much cheaper to teach with lectures and teaching assistants than with seminars and faculty tutorials. The savings are important at a time of such high tuitions, but the consequences for student honesty are predictable and unhappy. In small seminars, professors can work with students individually, offer comments on draft papers, and supervise work-in-progress. In large lectures, that's simply impossible. When students have less contact with faculty, they often come to see assignments cynically, as mere transactions for grades.

Deans of students know these problems all too well. In college after college, they report rising problems. National surveys say the same thing. They show marked increases in cheating and plagiarism over the past decade. On anonymous surveys, many high school and college students acknowledge that they cheat, at least occasionally, and that they know many others who do, too.

This rise of academic dishonesty threatens our most basic educational values. Occasionally, the threat is accidental. Some students simply don't know the rules. They don't understand what honest work is, or they don't know how to cite sources properly. Often, though, the threat is deliberate. Students working on history or English papers might drag and drop some Web text without citation. For organic chemistry, they might copy a classmate's answers to a problem set. For computer science, they might "borrow" someone else's programming code and present it as their own. Worst of all, they might buy whole papers from sleazy Web sites. It's even possible to buy papers about ethics and pay for them by credit cardówith no surcharge for irony. In each case, the student hopes to escape undetected and win good grades without doing the work or giving credit to those who did.

To staunch this rising tide, educators need to recognize the problem, underscore its gravity, and address it squarely. Faculty, deans, and advisers need to restate our commitment to academic honesty and our shared educational values. That is not just a matter of catching and punishing violators or using threats to deter cheating. That needs to be done, of course, but we need to do more. We need to explain what honest work is. We need to say why it matters so much. And we need to promote the bedrock values of academic integrity. They are essential to our common enterprise of teaching, learning, and research.

Talks on Academic Honesty
In talks with educators, I discuss these issues and encourage teachers and administrators to share their own ideas, experiences, and solutions.
I also speak with students about academic honesty and educational success. For information, please click on.
      • Why Honesty Matters for Your Education (a talk for university students)
      • Why Honesty Matters in High School (a talk for high school students)
 
      • Succeeding as an International Student

My talks are based on more than twenty-five years of teaching. I am a professor at the University of Chicago and the author of Doing Honest Work in College (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and How to Write a BA Thesis (University of Chicago Press, 2005), as well as books on international politics. I have served as director of graduate studies in political science and am currently director of undergraduate studies.

For more resources about academic honesty and teaching, see my Web page: Reading, Writing, and Plagiarism
 
 
Pages on this Web site
Lipson Courses
Lipson talks
Home List of my courses
Vita
International Politics
Talks on Education & Honesty
Books by Charles Lipson
Why Honesty Matters for Your Education
           (for university students)
Talks by Charles Lipson
Courses offered
Helping Your Students Do Honest Work
          (for faculty and advisers)
PIPES Workshop
World History
International Relations Resources 15th-18th c. World Politics
Why Honesty Matters in High School
          (for high-school students)
Reading, Writing, Plagiarism 19th c World Politics
How to Write a Thesis 20th c World Politics to 1945
Succeeding as an International Student in the U.S. and Canada      (customized for students, faculty, or advisers)
Politics and Culture 20th c World Politics 1945-91
Fun Big Wars: Ancient, Medieval, & Modern
Talks on Global Issues
News Pages
Social Science Core
What's New about the New Economy?
World News Power, Identity, Resistance The World America Made
Middle East News   Political Threats to Global Prosperity
Headline News   Turning Points of the 20th Century
World News-Web Audio   Democracies in World Politics
Advice for students
  Israel's Challenges
How to Write a Thesis   China in World Politics
Getting a Recommendation   The Cold War
  Why We Fought WW2
 
© Charles Lipson, 2008