The Honor Code in 2020

Our recent blog post considers that cornerstone of institutional academic integrity policy, the honor code, and looks at why universities and schools should consider reviewing their code to ensure it is fit for purpose in the online learning environment.


Working in the UK, where we are somewhat sceptical of honor codes, in spite of the compelling research cited in the post from the late, great Don McCabe, I would be interested to hear from schools who have an honor code and how effective you feel the code has been in promoting and safeguarding academic integrity? Additionally, what changes have you made to your honor code to address online learning?

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  • My high school does not have an honor code and that is what I was working on with a team of students, staff and administration before COVID closed our school.  Due to the herculean efforts to open our school back up, there has been little to no discussion, unfortunately, about this topic, even though I believe it should be in the forefront due to the online learning component (our school is hybrid or remote). 


    Individual teachers such as myself have academic integrity policies that we use and discuss.  I believe this year I will institute an online contract for student and parent to sign.  With our high school in hybrid and remote mode, there will be more opportunities for students to share files / notes / projects.  The problem is that there needs to be consequences for behaviors and that this type of behavior needs to be worked on early on in their academic career.  For my team at my high school, when we discussed consequences, students felt like this could be handled by the judicial branch of student government; therefore, students would be policing other students and perhaps through peer pressure cheating would be looked down upon. 

      • Gill Rowell
      • Advocacy & Thought Leadership Specialist, Turnitin
      • Gill_Rowell
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Hi Lisa LaBrake thanks for telling us about what's happening at your high school, and I completely understand why this discussion got derailed, however, as you say, this is a particularly pertinent conversation to have right now!

      Tracey Bretag from Australia talks about "outcomes" rather than "penalties", as, certainly early in a student's academic career this may be a learning opportunity to help students to understand about ownership of content rather than a punishment. I also agree that peer pressure can be a very powerful tool!

  • Forum members may also be interested in this white paper on developing honor codes, written in 2020, and posted by my Turnitin colleague Ian McCullough specifically with K12 educators in mind.

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