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Academic Honesty: Know it. Practice it. Encourage it.

Resources for Faculty

Academic Honesty at HCC
Faculty Influence on Students
Say it in the Syllabus
Say it in Class
Dos and Don'ts
When Faculty Suspect Academic Dishonesty
Readings on Academic Dishonesty in Colleges

ACADEMIC HONESTY: STUDENT RESOURCES  

Academic Honesty at HCC

In May of 2010, 481 students at HCC were surveyed regarding academic honesty.  According to the survey…

  • over 30 percent of students did not believe that copying and pasting a few sentences from online articles should be considered cheating. 
  • nearly 35 percent of students did not believe that using someone else’s ideas in their own papers without giving credit should be considered cheating
  • over 30 percent of students admitted to copying and pasting sentences into their own papers without citing them at HCC
  • over 35 percent of students copied another students’ homework at HCC
  • nearly 40 percent of students admitted to “collaborating” on individual assignments HCC
  • nearly 50 percent of students have allowed other students to copy their homework at HCC

While cheating may not be a large scale problem at HCC, it is important that we address the gaps between our expectations and our students' thinking and behavior.  (Questions about the survey should be directed to Laura Yoo, English and World Languages Division.)

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Faculty Influence on Students

Many studies show that besides individual character and peer pressure, faculty and institutional factors influence students’ decision to cheat.

  • “How College Students Cheat On In-Class Examinations: Creativity, Strain, and Techniques of Motivation”: Philip Shon shows that many students justify cheating by framing the professor as being unfair or difficult or the course as impossible to pass.  In addition, “students ‘size up’ their teachers, testing their vigilance, and establishing the behavior parameters of permissible illicit action – how much they can get away with.”  This tells us that the attitude, the behavior, and even the position (rank) of the faculty can influence the students’ decision-making.
  • “Academic Misconduct by University Students: Faculty Perceptions and Responses”: Sandra Nadelson reports that instructors can play a key role in the classroom environment which influences students’ attitudes and behaviors.  For instance, “Students reported that their propensity to act in a dishonest manner was related to instructors’ leniency and the perceived probability of a faculty member’s acting on observed misconduct” (emphasis added). Again, faculty members can influence students’ decision to cheat or not cheat.

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Say it in the Syllabus

In the syllabus, make clear that academic honesty is important to you.  Be careful not to threaten the students.  Be positive and clear.  See some examples below:

Written by Vinnie Rege, Business and Computers at HCC

All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct.  This includes, but is not necessarily limited to cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication of information, misrepresentation, and abetting any of the above. The code of Academic Conduct and Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures will be followed in the event that academic misconduct occurs.  Students should refer to the Student Handbook.

Written by Patti Turner, Science and Technology at HCC

The HCC Policies and Procedures regarding academic honesty will be strictly adhere to.  HCC defines academic honesty as “the use of one’s own thoughts and materials in the writing of papers, taking of tests, and other classroom related activities.  Any student intentionally aiding another student in any infraction of the Academic Honesty Policy is considered equally guilty.”  Refer to HCC’s Student Handbook for a complete description of the College Policies and Procedures.

Written by Amelia Yongue, English and World Languages at HCC

The college is an institution of higher learning that holds academic integrity as its highest principle.  In the pursuit of knowledge, the college community expects that all students, faculty and staff share responsibility for adhering to the values of honesty and unquestionable integrity.  To support a community committed to academic achievement and scholarship, the Code of Academic Integrity advances the principle of honest representation in the work that is produced by students seeking to engage fully in the learning process.  The complete text of the Code of Academic Integrity is in the Student Handbook and posted on the college’s website.  A common violation of the academic honesty policy is plagiarism.  Plagiarism is the improper use, or failure to attribute, another person’s writing or ideas.  Students who are caught plagiarizing will be subject to disciplinary measures according to the college policy.  When you are caught, you will receive a failing grade of zero for the assignment, and the incident will be reported to the Office of the President for Student Services. Subsequent incidents may result in your dismissal from the college.

Written by William M. Taylor, Political Science at Oakton Community College (IL)

The author gives permission to use any or all portions of his letter to students. Click here for the letter.

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Say it in Class

If at all possible, discuss academic honesty in class.  This could be a broader discussion about ethics if that is appropriate for your class.  As aforementioned articles illustrate, students’ perception of faculty position on academic honesty can influence the students’ behavior.  Let them know that academic honesty is important to you.  Direct students to HCC’s Academic Honesty Student Resources page. 

Highly Recommended! ASCA's Law and Policy Report for classroom activity and discussion ideas. 

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Dos and Don'ts

DON'T 

DO

Just refer students to Student Handbook for information on academic honesty

vs.

Explain – in your own words – the importance of academic honesty at HCC (in addition to mentioning the Handbook)

Allow students to sit wherever they wantvsDuring exam, assign seats alphabetically or randomly to switch it up

Read  a newspaper (or grade papers) in front of the room during exam

vs.

Walk around the room time to time and keep your eye on the students

Allow students to clutter their desksvs.If possible, ask students to leave their belongings in front of the room

Tell students to “Write 10 page essay about death penalty” (generic and out of context)

vs.

Tell students to “Write an 8-10 page essay evaluating Maryland’s current laws on the death penalty” (concrete and contextualized)

Give assignments that ask students to just report or summarize

vs.

Give assignments that ask students to analyze, synthesize, argue, and process - critical thinking

Give one deadline: “The project is due _____”

vs.

Break up large projects: “The proposal is due _____, the annotated bibliography is due _____, the rough draft is due ____, and the final draft is due ____.”

Assume everyone’s doing their own homework

vs.

Explain when a particular assignment is to be completed individually without collaboration (but make room for collaboration on other assignments)

Assume the students will form their own study groups

vs.

Encourage/help students find study buddies and explain the difference between “group work” and “studying together”

Leave the grading process unclear or undefined

vs.

Provide clear rubric or evaluation for assignments

Assume no questions means no problems

vs.

Provide opportunities to share their confusion – e.g. one-minute paper at the end of class 

Recycle exams or paper topics year after year

vs.

Create new exams or paper topics that reflect the current course materials and current events

Skip the “why” we do what we do

vs.

Make connections between course objectives (from course outline) to the actual assignments and exams – relevance is key

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When Faculty Suspect Academic Dishonesty

  • study the evidence carefully – we don’t want to make false accusations against students
  • contact the student and meet in a quiet place like your office to discuss the matter
  • avoid using accusatory tone in your conversation
  • be objective in how you explain the problem
  • listen to the student’s response
  • show your concern for the student
  • if you decide the student has indeed violated the code of conduct, follow the policies and procedures stated in the Student Handbook
  • explain to the student what they can expect

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Readings on Academic Dishonesty in Colleges

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ACADEMIC HONESTY: STUDENT RESOURCES