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Academic Integrity and OWL's Honour Pledge Feature

Added on November 5, 2020 by Allyson Steward
Updated on December 8, 2020

When teaching online or in-person, it is important to establish expectations for students regarding academic integrity because "showing trust and respect for students, and addressing cheating consistently and fairly sends the message that you value academic integrity" (Tatum and Schwartz 2017).

Western has a number of resources available for students to learn more about academic integrity and how to avoid even accidental cheating, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration, including the Office of the Ombudsperson, Western Libraries, and the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s Western Academic Integrity Tutorial for Undergraduate Students available via OWL.

For instructors, the Centre for Teaching and Learning offers resources on the university policies and strategies to promote academic integrity in the classroom.

One approach to promoting academic integrity in your courses is to use an honour pledge. Research shows that "if students think their peers are cheating and that it is acceptable, they are more likely to cheat themselves" (Tatum and Schwartz 2017). An honour pledge mitigates this assumption by requiring all students in the course to explicitly agree to the terms of an academic integrity policy before completing assessments.

In OWL, the Tests and Quizzes and Assignments tools allow you to enable an honour pledge, which requires students to agree to the statement that they will neither give nor receive aid on the completion of their assessment, whether it be a quiz, exam, or essay.

Tests and Quizzes

Tests and Quizzes honour pledge


Assignments honour pledge

By enabling these features, instructors can ask for explicit agreement from students before they complete an assessment that they have not and will not receive unauthorized aid from their peers or other resources that would compromise the integrity and originality of their work. 

To learn more about how to enable the honor pledge in Tests and Quizzes, see OWL Help:

To learn more about how to enable the honor pledge in Assignments, see OWL Help:



Holly Tatum and Beth M. Schwartz (2017). "Honor Codes: Evidence Based Strategies for Improving Academic Integrity". Theory into Practice, 56:2, 129-135, DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2017.1308175.