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Academic integrity is the moral code or ethical policy of an educational institution. Academic integrity is a fundamental value upon which colleges and universities are built.
Academic integrity is practiced in the majority of educational institutions and represented in academic honor codes. Many universities have sections on their websites devoted to academic integrity which define what the term means to their specific institution.
Academic integrity is the backbone of learning. Your growth as a future professional echoes your growth as a person. If you constantly are academically dishonest, if you cheat in class, at exams, when performing your home assignment, you cheat yourself out of the opportunity to learn more and become a good professional and an honest person. Academic dishonesty leads to further indecisiveness about any situation where honesty is expected.
The values that are at the heart of the concept of academic integrity go beyond simply not cheating or plagiarizing. Accepting these values means that you are responsible for your own learning; you have an obligation to be honest - with yourself and others; and you have the responsibility to treat other students and your professors with respect and fairness.
There are quite a few problems surrounding academic integrity with regards to the modern world. In contemporary world there are several factors that reshape the notion of academic integrity. Technology is the most predominant factor. Its influence on the educational system is twofold. It has greatly expanded the traditional views of teaching and learning. Technology’s largest contribution to society has been its ability to make large amounts of information available to millions of people simultaneously. The internet has provided a quick, relatively easy way to cheat—a temptation that did not exist until quite recently.
An important value related to academic integrity is fairness. When students cheat, they gain a short-term advantage over other students, and that's not fair. It's not fair to have a cheat-sheet when others are relying on memory; it's not fair to submit the writing of a published author when other students are submitting their own writing; and it's not fair to collaborate with someone else on a homework assignment when other students are following the professor's instructions and working on their own.
Dishonest academic conduct undermines the learning process in multiple ways: it stunts the development of important skills such as reading, writing, research, analysis, and comprehension; it hinders students in recognizing where their strengths and weaknesses in these areas lie; it prevents students from developing the self-confidence that comes from successfully completing a challenging assignment on one's own; it hampers the development of creativity and critical thinking. For all of these reasons it is clear that dishonest academic behavior ruins educational goals of a university and, thus, diminishes the value of a student's education.
But what is most important is the self-respect that comes from knowing that you're doing your part to create the kind of world that you want to live in: a world where people are honest and fair. A society that is based on the principle: "May the best person win," rather than "May the most cunning cheater win." After all, who would you want to be your surgeon or the architect of your house: the person who was best for the job, or the one who cheated his or her way through school and have a faked diploma?
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