The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic and likely lasting effect on all of us, but perhaps most enduringly on school-age children who may have missed the better part of a full year of schooling in some cases. Beyond gaps in learning, the shift to virtual classrooms has provided opportunities for chronic violations of academic integrity.
What Is Academic Integrity?
Call it adherence to an Honor Code, appropriate behavior, or academic integrity, it all boils down to the same thing: honesty and abiding by rules. From cheating on a test or looking up answers on Google, academic integrity takes many forms. Each results in students shortchanging themselves.
Why Was Cheating Worse During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Virtual classes with limited supervision opened up many opportunities for students to take advantage of the situation. Even the most rule-abiding, self-motivated students can feel the pressure to achieve at the best of times. With the added stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, desire met opportunity, and violations of academic integrity ballooned during the recent push for virtual learning. Many factors combined to make such behavior possible, including:
- Teachers with little time to learn and adapt to new technologies struggle to combat plagiarism and cheating
- Less-supervised students who often needed to do schoolwork with a limited teacher or parent interaction
- Ease of access to online answers when students are already working online
How Will Students Adjust to the Post-Pandemic Return to the Classroom?
Of course, we can’t offer an absolute answer until we have the benefit of hindsight. We can, however, make some educated guesses about what to expect in the school years to come. Some of the adjustments we expect include:
- Students who were already less likely to violate academic integrity will likely continue with a high standard of performance and do their work honestly.
- Students who had been strong achievers but took the easy route with some milder forms of cheating will likely avoid continuing down that path once they return to classroom learning.
- Those who found the opportunity to cheat allowed them to sail through the pandemic school period. Now, they have an increased temptation to continue cheating as they probably have already fallen behind.
How to Improve Academic Integrity in the Year to Come
More than a year of pandemic school adjustments has provoked plenty of debate on whether measuring learning loss over the pandemic is in students’ best interests, and if so, how much testing should be done. Some states have adjusted regulations and guidelines for allowing students to repeat school years. Others offer summer school through unprecedented demand. It seems clear, however, that the best way to encourage and maintain academic integrity is by reducing pressure. Classroom structures which offer lagging students the time and resources to catch up are most likely to support students effectively.
How Is Academic Integrity Supported at The Tenney School?
At The Tenney School, one of our principles is to meet students where they are. Facilitated by our unique one-on-one instructional design, we are well-prepared to offer the kind of flexibility and personalized support many students may need as they readjust to in-classroom learning. Our corresponding focus on developing effective study habits and individualized learning skills will be key to supporting our commitment to academic integrity throughout our school. Contact us to learn more about academic integrity and our one-on-one learning system at The Tenney School.