FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS On my honor, I pledge that this work of mine does not violate the U.C. Student Code of Conduct rules on cheating or plagiarism. September, 2007 In spring quarter 2007 Student Senate unanimously adopted a resolution of support for the above U.C. Honor Pledge, and Faculty Senate by voice vote with some opposed endorsed its use at the discretion of the instructor. The revised Student Code of Conduct (www.uc.edu/conduct) encourages use of the pledge and simplifies faculty reporting of academic misconduct. (http://www.uc.edu/provost/faculty/faculty_affairs.html) In order to encourage a) improved reporting of misconduct and b) use of the Pledge, this revised Academic Integrity Campaign FAQ responds to several key objections voiced by critics. 1. Does U.C. have a problem with cheating and plagiarism? SCOC Academic Misconduct FAQ 2. Is anyone hurt when students cheat and plagiarize? 3. Should students who know cheaters take any action? 4. Why should faculty do more as academic integrity role models? 5. What are the revised SCOC academic misconduct procedures and sanctions? Honor Pledge FAQ 6. Does any research show that an Honor Code or Pledge is a meaningful deterrent to cheating? 7. Why have an honor pledge that most U.C. faculty will not use or enforce, resulting in even greater cynicism about additional paper work that makes no difference? 8. What are the consequences for a student who objects to the pledge and does not sign but has not cheated? 9. Where can I find more information and/or challenge these answers? 1. Does U.C. have a problem with cheating and plagiarism? In an unscientific student government poll of U.C. students ending March 7, 2007, 29% of the 6,034 responding indicated they had observed or heard of cheating on campus. Since 2004, cases of academic misconduct by U.C. students reported to the Office of University Judicial Affairs (OUJA) increased from under 10 per year to more than 50 per year. Examples include term paper plagiarism, copied lab reports, and cheating on tests, including at least one PhD comprehensive exam. Evidence of widespread cheating elsewhere might be extrapolated to U.C. Of the more than 64,000 undergraduate respondents on a national survey, 11% admitted to copying from another student without their knowledge, 9% with their knowledge, and 10% admitted to helping another student cheat.i The 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) found that ―87% of college students surveyed reported that their peers sometimes copy and paste information from the Web for reports and papers—without citing sources.‖ii Term paper mills sell work for hire. In a widely publicized recent case, Ohio University has considered revoking MAs awarded to engineering students who were found to have plagiarized their theses. Faculty as well as students, both at U.C. and other major universities, have violated academic integrity, as illustrated by the Pulitzer prize winning authors found guilty of plagiarism. A recent financial aid loan scandal has also revealed misconduct by administrative staff at the most prestigious institutions. Fabricated degrees on false cv’s are all too common. At a time of pervasive public skepticism about institutional corruption, an honor pledge and improved reporting are only first steps as U.C. forcefully affirms its commitment to integrity by all members of our community. SCOC Academic Misconduct Reports FAQ 2. Is anyone hurt when students cheat and plagiarize? Many students and their professors behave as though no one is hurt when a student copies only a few sentences without a footnote or fabricates lab data. In a survey of 63,700 undergraduates, over one third reported paraphrasing/copying a few sentences for a written assignment without footnoting the source. Over 40% indicated that such copying was not cheating or was “trivial”. Only 68% of the undergraduates surveyed indicated that fabricating or falsifying lab data amounted to moderate or serious cheating, and 19% reported that they had done so. Over 80% of faculty regarded such copying and 97% considered such data fabrication as moderate or serious cheating.iii In Assessment Project surveys involving almost 10,000 professors however, ―44% of those who were aware of student cheating in their course in the last three years, have never reported a student for cheating to the appropriate campus authority. Students suggest that cheating is higher in courses where it is well known that faculty members are likely to ignore cheating.‖ iv The first victim of plagiarism is the person who paid and worked for learning that can only be acquired by original writing. Copying one definition from Wikipedia or the dictionary can still be the wrong choice between two “ correct” meanings for a word such as “sanction” than can mean either – a) permission or b) a penalty. Even if the student recognized the right choice of meanings, copying or paraphrasing the definition can be done without understanding the term or being able to use it correctly in a sentence. Rewriting the definition with different, original words requires thinking that leads to understanding. Fellow students are victims when cheaters earn undeserved high grades that provide an advantage in competing for academic honors, jobs, and admission to selective graduate or professional schools. Students are victimized when faculty fed up with widespread plagiarism no longer assign research papers that are essential to the undergraduate learning experience because of misconduct by a minority. When widespread cheating results in public scandal, as in the case of plagiarized Master‟s Theses at Ohio University, the academy appears as corrupt as Enron or Worldcom. Other victims include patients injured by doctors who earned licenses after cheating in medical school, taxpayers penalized by incorrect returns prepared by an accountant who fabricated data in college, those injured when a bridge designed by a dishonest engineer fails under stress, and home buyers whose lawyers draft flawed deeds after cheating in law school classes on property.v The UC Student Code of Conduct assures that students accused of plagiarism receive due process in procedures that also protect the rights of student victims and that recognize the faculty‟s responsibility to sanction academic misconduct. 3. Should students who know cheaters take any action? UC honor codes at the colleges of law and medicine obligate students to report cheating that they observe. At US military academies and universities such as Virginia failure to do so is regarded as a moral failing. On the street and in many other institutions however, some whistleblowers who flagged misconduct have been denounced as “snitches” -- disloyal informers. The UC Student Code of Conduct, with the endorsement of Student Government and Faculty Senate, has encouraged instructors to use an honor pledge “light” that does not include a promise to report misconduct by others. When asked to support the pledge, some members of The UC Graduate Student Assembly complained that their reports of misconduct were ignored by faculty and academic program directors who took no action to sanction or stop the cheating. Students who report cases of stealing and assault to the University Judicial Affairs Office, may not feel a similar need to report academic misconduct or may not know how to proceed. Students unwilling to turn in a cheater might still protect themselves from misconduct by declining to share their own work with individuals suspected of copying. Many professors encourage collaborative group work as a learning tool; if they assign original, individual projects then sharing work for others to copy violates the UC Student Code of Conduct provision on aiding and abetting. Students who discourage cheating by their friends and confront cheaters by objecting to plagiarism serve their own interests in being evaluated properly in a fair grading system. When students who feel an ethical responsibility do report cheating by others, some but not all faculty will respond effectively. If the course instructor does not respond appropriately or the student would rather report to someone else, there are a number of individuals responsible for assuring academic integrity at UC who might be contacted, including: The chair of the Academic Issues Committee of Student Government, the undergraduate or graduate academic program director or department head, the College Conduct Administrator, the University Ombuds, and the Office of University Judicial Affairs. 4. Why should faculty do more as academic integrity role models? Faculty don‟t want to be academic cops or the plagiarism police for many reasons: Investigating and prosecuting student plagiarism takes valuable professional time. Department promotion criteria reward faculty for research, teaching and service--ethics instruction and code enforcement aren‟t part of the job description. Instructors who report academic misconduct feel “punished by the process” -- time consuming paperwork, emotional personal confrontations, and review hearings controlled by students and administrators. Experienced professional faculty want the academic freedom to fail a student found guilty of cheating When dishonest students cheat themselves the instructor may conclude there is more to lose than to gain by policing their misconduct. The Rebuttal Case for Faculty as Role Models of Academic Integrity Implementing effective preventive tools that reduce plagiarism requires less time than coping with a widespread cheating epidemic. As noted above, students are more likely to cheat when instructors ignore misconduct (See note 4). Online tutorials and quizzes can be assigned as pre-tests to teach students that plagiarism is “intellectual kidnapping.” See http://tutorials.sjlibrary.org/tutorial/plagiarism/selector.htm and “You be the Judge” http://www.fairfield.edu/x14498.html The UC Library provides faculty resources on prevention and detection at http://www.libraries.uc.edu/instruction/faculty/plagiarism.html#links and resources for students at http://www.libraries.uc.edu/instruction/students/plagiarism.html SafeAssign text-matching software on Bb now enables students and their instructors to detect copied passages and remedy plagiarism with minimal effort. Encouraging students to write and sign the U.C. Honor Pledge on written assignments as well as tests should provide an additional deterrent. The revised U.C. Student Code of Conduct considerably simplifies the burden of reporting academic misconduct while increasing the instructor‟s discretion to fail a student on the exercise without review by a hearing panel. The burden of deterring, detecting and sanctioning misconduct is lighter than the multiple burdens of allowing cheaters to earn credentials for which they are unqualified and to gain an unfair advantage over fellow students in competition for academic honors, jobs and admissions to selective graduate or professional schools. Successfully promoting academic integrity fosters critical bonds of trust between students and faculty. Refusing to assign research papers in order to eliminate plagiarized work deprives innocent students of critical learning. A university wide, shared commitment might help UC acquire a reputation for integrity enjoyed by elite institutions and to avoid the scandals that have besmirched too many others in higher education. 5. What are the revised SCOC academic misconduct procedures and sanctions? Depending on the extent of the misconduct, and the instructor‟s discretion, sanctions range from compassionate forgiveness, through instructional mercy, to justice with tough love. The instructor may require: Resubmission of the assignment with or without a reduced grade for the exercise and with no formal report of academic misconduct; A satisfactory completion certificate for an online plagiarism tutorial/quiz Formal report of academic misconduct to the department, College Conduct Administrator, and Office of University Judicial Affairs. UC student disciplinary records for 6 years with access limited to those with an educational need to know and those who receive permission from the student – law school admissions, government employers, etc. Reduced or failing grade on the exercise. Reduced or failing grade for the course Recommendation to the College Hearing Panel/Dean/Provost for probation, suspension, dismissal Students are entitled to notice and an opportunity to respond, but instructors should not be ―punished by the process.‖ The Student Code of Conduct does not require a face-to-face meeting, but a personal conversation often helps resolve the situation. For distance-learning students who plagiarize, the instructor may rely exclusively on email exchanges. The SCOC procedures call on faculty to report academic misconduct subject to failure in the course, but a report is optional for a grade penalty on the exercise. Improved recordkeeping is essential to identify repeat offenders subject to more severe sanctions. A one page fill in the blank academic misconduct report form is available online and simplifies the reporting. http://www.uc.edu/provost/faculty/faculty_affairs.html Under the SCOC students who deny responsibility have a right to a college hearing to contest a report of academic misconduct. A College Hearing panel recommends a final sanction to the Dean based on review of the evidence presented. Honor Pledge FAQ 6. Does any research show that an Honor Code or Pledge is a meaningful deterrent to cheating? The Center for Academic Integrity, http://www.academicintegrity.org/, conducts extensive student surveys that provide data used to compare self- reports of cheating at code, modified code and non-code universities. The results of multi-campus surveys with a 35% response rate show a correlation between use of a code or pledge and lower rates of cheating.vi The methodology is easily challenged, as it is difficult if not impossible to obtain reliable data on the extent of cheating. CAI Executive Director Tim Dodd notes: ―We institute codes and pledges as a call to awareness and understanding and not primarily as a tool of deterrence. While we have responsibility to deter and/or catch those who cheat and plagiarize, we are called by mission to mentor ethical citizens. Codes and pledges, when thoughtfully mobilized throughout students' academic careers, provoke pause, reflection and dialogue -- the hallmarks of the ethically lived life. Deterrence is affected not through coercion or imposition (there are far more coercive and imposing measures that could be adopted if our only concern was to stop cheating) but through a raised consciousness that resists the temptations of expediency and thievery. Codes and pledges teach.‖ 7. Why have an honor pledge that most U.C. faculty will not use or enforce, resulting in even greater cynicism about additional paper work that makes no difference? An excellent question as illustrated by CAI Assessment Project surveys involving almost 10,000 faculty over a three year period: ―44% of those who were aware of student cheating in their course in the last three years, have never reported a student for cheating to the appropriate campus authority. Students suggest that cheating is higher in courses where it is well known that faculty members are likely to ignore cheating.‖ (See note 4) The Academic Integrity Campaign seeks to remedy that problem by promoting an honor pledge, and the challenge is indeed a difficult one. Honor Code systems such as the ones at the UC Colleges of Law and Medicine obligate students to report cheating that they observe. The SCOC honor pledge ―light‖ is to be used at the discretion of the instructor and does not require students to report; it is unlikely that many students will take that difficult step. Nor will the pledge deter dishonest students determined to conceal their cheating by falsely signing the pledge. Although the pledge is not a panacea, it can still make a difference. Some students will overcome the temptation to cheat because of the pledge. Some who feel cheated when cheaters gain a competitive edge will be more inclined to report misconduct and to encourage faculty to remedy that inequity. Improved reporting by college conduct officers to the Office of University Judicial Affairs may also result, contributing to improved implementation of the SCOC on campus. 8. What are the consequences for a student who objects to the pledge and does not sign but has not cheated? Faculty should not award an ―F‖ on an exercise to a student who has honestly done passing work. The revised SCOC provides that refusal to sign an honor pledge will not be recorded or reported as academic misconduct unless there is evidence of cheating or plagiarism. Most professors would consider a mandatory, signed affirmation enforced by failure unacceptable, similar to the discredited loyalty oath. U.C. faculty who have used a pledge do so in various ways, and none are known to have failed students for refusing to sign. Science instructors have asked students who wish to use their own electronic devices on a test to sign a statement that no unauthorized material is stored on their equipment. Those who refuse were only allowed to use calculators supplied by the department. In lab courses, students required to complete an ethics pre-test have been found less likely to cheat. The faculty co-chair of the pledge campaign provides an anonymous paper ballot to measure student support before using a pledge on tests. Varying the wording of the pledge used or asking students to write out the pledge instead of signing a printed statement are possible ways to avoid ritualized recitation of an affirmation that has diminishing returns. Instructors already have the academic freedom to adopt a great range of sanctions for excessive absence, cheating, or refusal to sign a pledge that they require. Some instructors are far more punitive than others. Students can challenge an unduly harsh sanction as arbitrary and have the right to a grievance hearing that can result in a lighter penalty. CAI Executive Director Tim Dodd writes: “Faculty can address students who refuse to sign pledges in one of two ways. Many refuse to accept and grade work submitted without a signed pledge. Others encourage students to write their own statements about how their execution of the test or assignment comports with the values of academic integrity and ethical conduct. . . . I strongly endorse the latter approach. . . . I would advocate for students to be given a choice between signing the adopted pledge or crafting their own statements in classes in which an instructor requires a pledge. We have had instances here at Duke of students writing whole pages justifying their methods and/or anguishing about their uncertainties. A valuable learning exercise. . . . If our goal is to provoke pause and reflection, let students spend some time reflecting on the values of open and honest scholarship as they apply to particular exams, labs and papers.” 9. Where can I find more information and/or challenge these answers? Check out the Academic Integrity Campaign list of references at http://www.uc.edu/conduct/Academic_Integrity_Campaign.html Committee Members: Daniel.Cummins@uc.edu, Director Office of University Judicial Affairs, Howard.Tolley@uc.edu, Professor of Political Science, Pam Bach – Librarian, Holly Barber - Student Government, Billie Burton - Asst. Dean A & S, Michelle Conroy - Student Government, Dr. John Ned Donnelly - Educational Services, Dr. Regina Sapona - Asst. Dean CECH, James Radley -- Student Body President NOTES i Based on ―Cheating Among College and University Students: A North American Perspective,‖ International Journal for Academic Integrity (2005) Volume 1, No. 1. (http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/journals/index.php/IJES/article/viewFile/14/64) and the author Don McCabe’s powerpoint presentation at the 2001 meeting of the Center for Academic Integrity. ii NSSE: Vast majority of undergrads using IT, but „cut-and-paste‟ a typical academic „strategy‟ December 12, 2003 http://homepages.indiana.edu/121203/text/technology.shtml iii Donald McCabe, ―Cheating Among College and University Students: A North American Perspective,‖ International Journal for Academic Integrity (2005) Volume 1, No. 1. (http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/journals/index.php/IJES/article/viewFile/14/64). iv Donald McCabe and G. Pavela ―Some Good News about Academic Integrity,‖ Change (2000) 32, No. 5, 32-38. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1254/is_5_32/ai_66278484/pg_7 Donald McCabe and L.K. Trevino "What We Know About Cheating in College: Longitudinal Trends and Recent Developments," Change (1996) 28, No. 1, 28-33 http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1254/is_n1_v28/ai_18011556/pg_4 v Lathrop, Ann and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake- Up Call. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. vi From ―Some Good News about Academic Integrity,‖ Change (2000) 32, No. 5, 32-38. (with G. Pavela) http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1254/is_5_32/ai_66278484/pg_7 "What We Know About Cheating in College: Longitudinal Trends and Recent Developments," Change (1996) 28, No. 1, 28-33 (with L.K. Trevino). http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1254/is_n1_v28/ai_18011556/pg_4 The author Don McCabe’s powerpoint presentation at the 2001 meeting of the Center for Academic Integrity based on survey responses from a 1995 survey of over 4,000 students at 17 code and 14 non- code schools reports self reported test cheating of 30% and 45%. Twice as many women as men responded to the survey leading him to caution about use of the results. His 1999 research based on over 2,000 responses included several ―Modified Code‖ schools that used an honor pledge – University of Maryland, Kansas State, and University of California at Davis -- where the 36% reported rate of cheating was higher than at code schools, but below the 45% rate at non-code universities.
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