Dr. Kristin Spencer
By Dr. Kristin Spencer on February 08, 2021

Academic Integrity in Higher Education - Part II: Trust

Last week we discussed the pillar of Honesty in Academic Integrity. The ICAI states, “When honesty if established as a value it allows for and encourages the development of trust.”1 This week we will be discovering how trust can provide a platform for your students to flourish in their learning. Initially, when we think about trust, the first thing that comes to mind somewhat relates to our last discussion on honesty. Do I trust my students? Are they honest in their academic pursuits? But that isn’t the true basis for trust in the classroom. Instead, it is about the student trusting us as educators. Only by creating an environment of trust can we build a foundation in which students are able to learn and grow.

Trust can be thought of as the willingness to make oneself vulnerable to another. In other words, giving yourself over to someone else to provide leadership and guidance.2 When new students enter our classroom, they often do not come in willing to give themselves fully to the learning process. It is our job to foster an environment of mutual trust by setting clear expectations and providing proper guidance. The components of trust include the following3:

  • Vulnerability – the belief that others will care

  • Uncertainty – a willingness to suspend doubt in order to execute the task

  • Risk – a willingness to take risks

  • Expectations – a positive expectation of the benefits of the activity

To ensure this happens we need to also trust that our students can meet the expectations that we set for them. As adults, the majority of our students have the desire to learn, but they may not fully understand how to do that. Therefore, we have to trust in them to do what they need to be successful. Once this trust is gained, students will work harder, want to please you as the instructor, be more engaged, and be willing to take on more responsibility2.

A student representative of ICAI was quoted as saying this about trust in the classroom:

This semester a professor excused me from taking a test at the normal time and allowed me to choose the tie and date when I could make it up. Mutual trust was built from day one... I felt an obligation to my teacher to perform to the best of my ability, which I credit to the respect we have for on another in our different roles1.

Again, it’s a matter of trusting that the student will do what they should in order to be successful. CrossBraining is an excellent way to build that trust. Students can be given as little or as much direction as you, the instructor, feel is appropriate. Yet, they are able to have autonomy on how they choose to present the material both in video and narration. This is a great way to provide an opportunity for various learning styles along with increasing student engagement. Students are made responsible for their own learning, which will in turn provide ownership and the desire to present a well thought out, professional end result.

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1. “Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity.” International Center for Academic Integrity, ICAI, 2013, www.academicintegrity.org/fundamental-values.

2. Best, Jackson. “The Science of Building Trust With Students: Student Teacher Trust.” 3P Learning, 11 Jan. 2021, www.3plearning.com/blog/building-trust-with-students/.

3. Kelly, Rob. “Creating Trust in Online Education - Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching & Learning.” Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning, 10 Dec. 2020, www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/online-course-delivery-and-instruction/creating-trust-in-online-education/.

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Published by Dr. Kristin Spencer February 8, 2021
Dr. Kristin Spencer