Academic Dishonesty

Debora Ritter, Resident Student Development

Academic dishonesty is a difficult issue for college teachers to handle, yet it is crucial for you to 1) understand it; 2) attempt to prevent it; and 3) confront it when it occurs. Dealing with academic dishonesty is important primarily because it happens disturbingly often in higher education.

As a matter of fact, it happens so often you may have become numb to it, or resigned to ignore it. Yet academic dishonesty may be the most serious transgression of the values and principles guiding higher education. Here is an incomplete list of the negative consequences of academic dishonesty:

  • Confounds the learning process -- instructors cannot provide effective feedback to students if they don't submit their own work;

  • Confounds the grading process when students don't submit their own work, the grade they receive is not an accurate reflection of their knowledge;

  • Confounds the certification process when certain courses are required for a degree or professional certification, grades earned dishonestly make the value of the degree or certification worthless;

  • Decreases the credibility of the grading process;

  • Lessens the credibility of a degree from this institution; cheating constitutes stealing from others to gain unfair advantage and taking shortcuts instead of working honestly to earn a reward.

As with any illegal or immoral activity, the occurrence of academic dishonesty is a function of the degree of opportunity in the environment and the degree of individual motivation to commit the act. As a teacher, you can have an influence on both of these factors.

While there are a wide variety of reasons for students to cheat, you may influence their decision by discussing academic dishonesty in the first few class sessions. Make sure they know why rules about academic dishonesty exist, exactly what is considered cheating in your class, and what the procedure and potential consequences are should they decide to cheat. Basic descriptions for acts of academic dishonesty can be found in The Carolina Community Student Policy Manual. In addition to these basic definitions, you will want to explain your specific expectations regarding:

  1. use of old tests for study purposes;

  2. collaboration for studying, reading, homework, and/or project work;

  3. correct citation for ideas mentioned in class lecture;

  4. submitting a paper also submitted in another class;

  5. other areas specific to the content of the course (e.g. use of calculators, Cliff Notes, etc.)

    Procedures for responding to incidents of suspected academic dishonesty are also found in The Carolina Community Student Policy Manual. Once you have been presented with evidence indicating cheating (or gathered the evidence yourself), you, or an official appointed by the Dean of the College in which the course is offered, will meet with the student to discuss your suspicions and inform the student of the procedures you are following. There are several options for resolving the incident, depending on whether the student admits responsibility for the infraction, and what you and your professor think is an appropriate response.

    READ THESE PROCEDURES IN THE CAROLINA COMMUNITY AND DISCUSS THEM WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR TO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THEM AND YOU KNOW WHAT ROLE YOU ARE EXPECTED TO TAKE WITH ISSUES OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY.

    There are many strategies you can employ to encourage academic honesty and discourage temptation. The list below will give you some good ideas, and you can develop others specific to your subject matter and classroom environment:

    1. Give frequent written assignments and tests so you will know your students and their capabilities. This will make students less inclined to submit someone else's work as their own, and reduce the pressure they may feel when only one test or paper determines their grade.

    2. Summarize or include the institution's academic honesty policy in the course syllabus.

    3. Develop a pool of test questions that can be used to change tests each semester.

    4. Supply official examination booklets at the beginning of each testing period.

    5. Avoid take home exams unless collaboration is desired.

    6. Do not use standard examinations contained in teachers manuals.

    7. Construct tests so students will need nothing except a pen or pencil. Ask them to leave other materials at a location away from their desks.

    8. In large classes, check identification before administering exams.

    9. Ask students to write their names in ink on exam books.

    10. Both questions and answers on objective exams should be scrambled, especially in large classes.

    11. Gather exam booklets by row, so seat location can be determined if copying is suspected.

    12. Seat students randomly on exam days.

    13. Proctor exams carefully and diligently.

    14. Use caution in leaving an answer key or solutions manual where students might have access to them.

    15. Inform students that a number of exams are photocopied before being returned. This will discourage the practice of changing answers and submitting them for regrading.

    16. Ask that students submit an outline and first draft at subsequent points during the semester, before the final paper is due.

    17. When a substantial written assignment is required, also ask students to give an oral presentation of their work, and respond to questions from classmates.

    18. Do not accept photocopies of papers.

    (These ideas are taken from Gehring, D., Nuss, E.M., and Pavela, G. (1986). Issues and Perspectives on Academic Integrity. Columbus, OH: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc., pp. 6-8)

    For more information concerning academic integrity, consult your schools or college's specific policies and procedures, the Carolina Community, or the Department of Student Development (777-4333), which is responsible for administering the student code of conduct.

     

    HOME | STUDENT CENTER | FACULTY CENTER | ONLINE STUDY GUIDE | LINKS | TEACHING PSYCHOLOGY HANDBOOK | SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURE NOTES | FACULTY SUPPLEMENTS |