As a UC Irvine student, practicing academic integrity is incredibly important. Not only does upholding academic integrity standards ensure that you make the most of your education, but it also ensures that you do not face the serious repercussions that come with violating the campus academic integrity policy. 

To help you learn more about academic integrity and the resources that can help you avoid academic dishonesty, Trace Yulie, Director of the UCI Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC), sat down with Valery Holt, Associate Director of Academic Integrity at the UCI Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct (OAISC), for an informative interview.

Trace: Welcome Valery; thank you so much for meeting with me! To get us started, would you mind introducing yourself and telling us about your role?

Valery: Thanks for having me, Trace. I am the Associate Director of Academic Integrity with the UCI Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct (OAISC). Although I started working at the OAISC in 2022, I have been working within the UC system in the field of academic integrity and student conduct since 2008. As the Associate Director of Academic Integrity, I guide the office’s work in responding to reports, questions, and matters related to academic integrity referred to our office.  

Trace: I think a lot of students have a general sense of what academic integrity means, but what is UC Irvine’s official definition?

Valery: As identified by the UCI Academic Senate, UC Irvine “is an institution of learning, research, and scholarship that is strengthened by the existence of an environment of integrity….It is essential that all members of the University practice academic integrity and accept individual responsibility for their work and actions.” As such, students are expected to complete coursework in compliance with their  instructors’ standards and instructions. If students are unsure what these standards are, it is their responsibility to ask the instructor or TA for clarification to ensure the work they are submitting is completed appropriately. 

Academic integrity is also about grades reflecting a student’s honest effort in the coursework they submit. Should a student engage in any activity that involves attempting to receive a grade, for themselves or another student, by means other than an honest effort, this would be considered a violation of our academic integrity policy.

Trace: What can staff, faculty, and students do to promote academic integrity?

Valery: Promoting academic integrity is everyone’s responsibility, because without it, the value of the teaching and learning experience is diminished for the entire community. As such, it is important for each of us to hold each other accountable. If we see acts of academic dishonesty, we should quickly report them to the course instructor or to the OAISC

There are a variety of actions faculty can take to reduce the opportunities for students to cheat. For instance, they can remind students of exam rules, course academic integrity policies, and the consequences of cheating on a large screen during exams. Additionally, faculty should take care to provide clear language on their course syllabi that informs students of class expectations and specific coursework instructions. More tips for faculty can be found on the OAISC website

Staff can support students by checking in and proactively sharing resources to assist students with any challenges they might be experiencing. This can help students avoid the temptation to violate the academic integrity policy.

Finally, students should take pride in the opportunity they have been given to receive their education from one of the nation’s top public universities. Students should value the importance of their education in providing them with experience, knowledge, and skills that will contribute to their personal and professional success. As such, students should lean into the educational experience, put in genuine efforts to learn, and try their best, so their degree is an honest and integral reflection of their authentic work.

Trace: You mention that there are proactive resources to help students avoid the temptation of violating the campus academic integrity policy. Could you discuss these resources in more detail?

Valery: Students have shared a variety of reasons for violating the academic integrity policy. UC Irvine has numerous resources available to support students in successfully avoiding some of the pitfalls which can lead to academic dishonesty. Here are some examples:

“I didn’t have time.” Students can learn about how to improve their time management and study skills by taking a LARC workshop.

“I didn’t understand the instructions.” Students should read their syllabus, follow instructions, talk to their instructors, and attend office hours if they need help understanding assignment instructions or course guidelines.

“I didn’t know how to cite.” Students can learn effective writing skills at the UCI Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication and can receive information about specific citation styles from the UCI Libraries citation guide.

“I didn’t know that was the policy.” Students will find course-specific policies in their syllabi and should take the time to read each one thoroughly. Additionally, information and links to campuswide policies may be found on the OAISC website.

“I’m stressed, pressured to succeed, or managing personal concerns.” Students may advance the skills and knowledge necessary to manage their wellbeing at the UCI Center for Student Wellness & Health Promotion and receive support during difficult times from the UCI Counseling Center.

“I have a learning disability.” Students can maximize their abilities to thrive and get accommodations at the UCI Disability Services Center.

“I have difficulty making responsible decisions.” Students can advance their decision-making skills by completing the OAISC’s Decision-Making Workshop.

Trace: This is awesome, thanks Valery! In addition to these resources, I know that students can also turn to the OAISC Peer Advisor for support. Can you tell me more about this resource?

Valery: Our current OAISC Peer Advisor describes her role as a bridge between students and the OAISC team members, and she works to provide students with answers to their questions and/or guide them to appropriate resources. Students can come to her with questions or concerns they may have regarding any academic integrity or student conduct matter. 

Students do not need to be involved in an issue reported to the OAISC to meet with the Peer Advisor and can schedule a meeting with the Peer Advisor whenever they have a question or concern. Our OAISC Peer Advisor is committed to helping students do their best both academically and in their personal lives and always encourages students to “zot with integrity!”

Have additional questions regarding academic integrity? Then visit the OAISC website for more information. For academic support with your courses or assistance with your assignments, turn to the LARC for help! Meet with one of our academic coaches one-on-one, sign up for a LARC tutorial, or check out our best learning tips. For more study strategies, check out some of the resources The Learning Scientists has to offer.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for additional information.