group of individuals standing in a line, holding their awards, smiling. sign behind them reads Academic Integrity Awards.

Nour Jaber (far right) with fellow honorees.

Making integrity an ideal to embrace

A key expectation of academic life is integrity—honesty and responsibility in doing one’s own work, citing sources, and avoiding the misuse of evolving technology.

For many students, the tenets of academic integrity may not be clear. The lucky ones find a guide like Nour Jaber.

young woman smiling, wearing a hijab.

Nour Jaber '25 (BA)

Jaber, a rising senior at UB double-majoring in law and criminology, has been recognized by the university’s Office of Academic Integrity for her work in helping her fellow students meet the demands of the discipline. Her Distinction in Academic Integrity award grows out of her work as a teaching assistant in an Introduction to Sociology course taught by adjunct instructor Kathleen D’Alfonso.

In D’Alfonso’s nomination of Jaber for the award, D’Alfonso wrote that Jaber “tells students how it pays off to practice doing things right, with integrity, so that they may take skills they learn in our class and apply them to other classes. Nour values doing things the right way and showing others the benefits of integrity.”

Jaber has developed her academic rigor through her own coursework, and her professors have noticed. “Nour is the quintessential example of the model UB undergraduate student,” says Prof. Thomas Hare, a lecturer in the law school’s BA in Law program. “In the three classes that I taught her, she was among the best prepared each day of class. She met every challenge and achieved very good grades each semester. She is very personable, and she was truly a joy to teach.”

“I definitely liked being a TA,” Jaber says. “I like helping people, and that’s probably why I’m in law.”

In her work with the Introduction to Sociology students, Jaber made herself available to review students’ writing, ranging from weekly journal entries responding to the class material, to their semester capstone projects. “During my office hours, they would email or come to me in person, asking, ‘Could you review this for me?’ Some needed help with starting their papers. And with all the assignments, we were making sure they were using their own ideas—especially with the journal entries, which were to be based on their lived experiences.”

Often, she’d need to remind them about citing sources properly. But she was able to use her own approach to academic writing as a model. She’d show her students a model paper she wrote for her Sociology of Deviance course, examining sociopaths and psychopaths using a sociology labeling theory. The process was painstaking: a detailed outline, then fleshed-out ideas in alternating paragraphs, then a synthesis. Many students, she says, find it a challenge to write enough to meet the expected page count. “Breaking things down helps,” Jaber says. “When you’re focusing on smaller pieces, it does help you start writing more.”

One challenge that all academics face is the advent of artificial intelligence tools. AI doesn’t necessarily perform well with some sociology terminology, Jaber says, and in the course, they provided a number of resources that made it easier for the students to avoid the temptation to use AI extensively. “We want them to understand the material,” she says, and it’s better to outline an essay yourself than to trust AI to get it right.”

Jaber is hoping to secure another teaching assistantship for the fall semester. This summer she’s home in her native Staten Island, working in the district attorney’s office for that borough’s Richmond County. And she’s looking ahead to law school—another venue where careful citation and academic integrity are paramount.