To Extend or Not to Extend: Is it an Academic Integrity Question?

It was interesting to me in my discussions with students for my doctoral study that the matter of unwarranted or easily begotten extensions came up as a concern for academic integrity. Of course, I realize the students who volunteered to participate in my study on students’ understandings of academic honesty and dishonesty could have been unique in some way or had their own “bones to pick” with teaching practices. This was, however, still a striking concern voiced by students and one worth passing along.

Students in my study said the meeting of deadlines, especially those established well in advance, was a skill to cultivate and one that was worth being held to account for as undergraduates. Several said they resented hearing from others, especially if after having worked hard to meet the deadline knowing that what they submitted would have been improved upon with more time, that an extension had been “easily” granted. Some students complained that others were getting extensions related to personal circumstances that they believed shouldn’t “cut the muster” with their professors. The complaint appeared to be the about the lack of transparency about what the real “rules of the game” were and whether a “level playing field” could be maintained. Students wanted to know what the real deadlines were and for what reasons extensions could be granted.

For the students in my study, granting of extensions based on both inadequate and fraudulent grounds was a particularly frustrating form of academic dishonesty. Hearing students talk in such animated and impassioned ways about these concerns has led me to be fairly explicit about my expectations for meeting deadlines and when and how to ask for extensions.

For more on academic integrity related issues, see the resources on the Website for the 2012 Academic Integrity Week.

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