At the University of Waterloo, TAs play an important role in encouraging academic integrity in the classroom, and identifying suspected academic misconduct. It is important for you to know what to do if you suspect academic misconduct, what constitutes an academic offense and tips to avoid them, as well as resources and contact information.
Instructors and TAs can download the following information in PDF format.
What do I do if I suspect academic misconduct?
A TA who has reason to believe an academic offence has been committed is required to report the matter to the instructor of the course AND the relevant undergraduate or graduate Associate Dean of the Faculty. The Associate Dean will investigate, if warranted, and render a decision appropriate to the severity of the case. For more information, review Academic Misconduct.
Academic Offences and Tips to Avoid Them
For a comprehensive list, review Policy 71.
Unauthorized collaboration: “Co-operation or collaboration in the completion of an academic assignment, in whole or in part, beyond what the instructor has indicated is acceptable.”
For example, students working together on an individual assignment or someone else (e.g., a tutor, family member or friend etc.) re-writing or altering an assignment.
Students might engage in unauthorized collaboration because they are unclear about the level of group work permissible for an assignment or because they are struggling with the content/assignment. To avoid instances of unauthorized collaboration:
- Be explicit, both verbally and in writing, about whether collaboration is allowed for each assignment, and if so, the extent to which it is allowed
- Encourage students to complete an Assignment Checklist for Group Submissions
- Refer students to resources and best practices for working in groups (e.g., discuss citation expectations, create a schedule, keep track of what each group member is contributing etc.)
Plagiarism: “Presenting, whether intentionally or not, the ideas, expression of ideas or work of others (whether attributed or anonymous) as one’s own in any work submitted whether or not for grading purposes.”
For example, using someone else’s work, data, research, etc., in part or in whole, without proper acknowledgement (e.g., citations and a reference list), or re-submitting work without permission or acknowledgement.
A student might unintentionally plagiarize because they are not aware they need to cite or they might forget to include one or multiple citations. A student might intentionally plagiarize because they have left something until the last minute or they are struggling to understand the course content/complete the assignment. To avoid instances of plagiarism:
- Ensure all of your teaching materials properly acknowledge sources (including course notes, PPTs, tables, charts etc.) so that you lead by example
- Show students in class how to credit academic sources, and not assume they already know how
- Refer students to additional campus resources for support
Cheating: “Trying to gain/give an improper advantage in an academic evaluation.”
For example, the use or intent to use an unauthorized aid or accessing exams/solutions without permission.
A student might cheat if they are stressed out, are feeling unprepared to take a test or are struggling with the course content. To avoid instances of cheating:
- Encourage students to talk to you in advance of the deadline if they are struggling with the course content or are feeling overwhelmed
- Refer students to stress and time management resources on campus
- Encourage students to use the Assignment Planner, which breaks down research and writing projects into manageable steps based on due dates
- Review tips in the CTE Resource Supporting Students’ Mental Wellbeing: Instructional Strategies
- Double seat students during midterms and exams, and practice diligent proctoring
Intellectual Property Copyright (IP) Violations: “The possession or use of another person’s intellectual property without that person's permission or knowledge.”
For example posting course materials online without permission, or using UW course materials in a third-party setting without permission.
A student might commit an IP Copyright violation for money, to help other students or for access to course notes in note-sharing platforms. They also may simply be not be aware of the University’s guidelines on posting materials online or using them in a third party-setting or Policy 73 Intellectual Property Rights.
- Inform the instructor of any IP copyright violations (e.g., materials in an online note-sharing platform)
- Be explicit with students when material is not to be shared with others or online
Resources and Contact Information
If you have questions about academic integrity in a course, ask the instructor.
- Academic advice and tutoring
- Group work
- IP and Copyright
- Referencing and research skills
- Stress and time management
- Turnitin and iThenticate
- Academic misconduct
- Policy 71 and other integrity-related policies
Call, e-mail or visit the Office of Academic Integrity:
Erin Nearing, Academic Integrity Coordinator
519-888-4567 ex 36631