Planning for Academic Success: Academic Integrity

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Module 2 Part 6

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Introduction

Objective: The student will list and define at least three accurate examples of academic integrity violations in the college setting.

This lesson is designed to help you understand what academic integrity is all about and why it is so important in college. You will also research the policies set by the college or university that you plan to attend.

Estimated time 45 minutes

Materials included:

Additional materials needed:

Curriculum Link:

This section corresponds with Module 2 Lesson 3 in the College Bound Transition curriculum resources.

Learn About It

How would you define integrity? What do you think “academic integrity” means?

What is Academic Integrity? This video will help illuminate what integrity means in the academic setting while providing examples of academic dishonesty and plagiarism. [Transcript]

Dictionary.com defines integrity as, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”

Knowing that definition of integrity, you can conclude that “academic integrity” refers to honesty, morality, and ethicality in school‐related activities and situations.

Academic Integrity

  • The principles (values, morals, ethics) that you will be expected to follow in the course of your education in college. These policies provide the guidelines to help students and faculty make responsible, moral, and ethical decisions related to all aspects of their association with the university.
  • Most colleges have a clearly defined academic integrity policy, although the details vary at different schools
    • Although not every school uses the same formal name for this policy, if it has one of these key words in it, it’s probably the same type of policy: “honor code or system”, “code of conduct”, or “academic integrity policy”, etc.
    • The specific regulations (e.g., types of violations, process for reporting violations, etc.) tend to differ, but there are many commonalities amongst schools. We’ll cover some of those common regulations in more detail later in this section.
    • The consequences (e.g., types of sanctions, severity of sanctions, etc.) for violating the policy also differ from school to school, but there are many commonalities here as well.

Since all schools differ somewhat, we’ll be discussing the most common kinds of academic misconduct written in academic campus policies. Most of the terms are fairly common, but different colleges/universities will vary, so it will be important for you to research the policies at the college or university that you plan to attend.

Honor Code/Code of Conduct

  • Set of academic integrity rules and expectations governing students and faculty that is specific to each school
  • Defines honorable/acceptable behavior and dishonorable/unacceptable behavior
  • Communicates importance of academic integrity to all members of the school community
  • May include non-academic expectations in addition to academic-related rules
    • Stipulations about student behavior both on and off campus may be included (In general, schools with religious or military affiliation are the most likely to include more in-depth and rigorous non-academic expectations.)

Parents Chime In

  • Brainstorm with your child things that might be considered honorable/acceptable behavior and dishonorable/unacceptable behavior
  • Discuss examples of off-campus behaviors that might be addressed in the Honor Code/Code of Conduct
  • Relate these to other rules/laws that govern us everyday

Academic Integrity Violations

To give you a clearer understanding of what constitutes an academic integrity violation in college, we’ll discuss some of the most common violations. The definitions we’ll use come from a couple of specific universities, so be aware that you’ll need to learn the specific definitions your college uses and abide by those, not these examples.

Keep in mind that a lot of these categories can overlap and may be either separate or lumped together depending on the college’s policies.

Source of academic integrity violation descriptions:

Cheating

  • Using unauthorized materials, methods, or assistance
  • Most common to think of in context of the person who receives the help, but the person giving the help is just as much in violation
  • Receiving (or giving) unfair advantage
  • Can apply to any requirement, not just tests
  • May even apply to assignments or requirements that are not graded, such as a survey you might take or homework that is done only for practice and won’t be collected
  • Examples
    • Copying answers for anything, such as homework, a worksheet, a lab report, etc.
    • Consulting a textbook or your notes during an online quiz or an in‐class quiz. Many students assume that if a professor uses an online platform like Blackboard for quizzes or tests, that the assessments completed through it must be open‐book or open‐notes. Although it’s true that there’s often no way to monitor whether a student takes the test with unauthorized materials when it’s not proctored in person, you need to be aware that unless you are explicitly told that you can use something, you should assume that you can’t.
    • Students with disabilities often take their exams at a different time than the rest of the class since they’re often using extended time and testing at the disability support office instead of in class. When this happens, it’s possible that one person may have completed the test before anyone else has taken it. In these cases, it would fall under the category of cheating to tell other students anything about the test, even general information like length, types of questions, or general content areas.

Plagiarism

This video will offer some tips on how to avoid plagiarizing yourself or others when writing.

  • Representing another person’s work as your own; can apply to:
    • Ideas, thoughts
    • Language, direct quotes, phrasing
    • Structure, organization

Plagiarism is a serious problem in colleges and universities around the country. Rigorous writing requirements from colleges/universities have increased the amount of writing intensive courses required in college. As a result, students are required to do a lot of writing and research but many are not clear on exactly what is required in order to avoid plagiarism. In fact, a lot of plagiarism is actually unintentional and stems from poor understanding of what really needs to be attributed instead of intentional malice or misrepresentation. Ultimately many schools do not distinguish between intentional and unintentional plagiarism, so it’s critically important that you understand what needs to be cited and how to do so.

You must attribute everything you use that’s not original and cite the source

Some things to remember when attributing ideas and paraphrased materials are listed below:

  • Direct plagiarism is copying verbatim from a source without citing it
  • Paraphrased plagiarism is using the same ideas restated in different words without acknowledging the source
  • Mosaic plagiarism is blending together your own words or ideas with someone else’s words or ideas without acknowledging the source
  • Insufficient acknowledgement – partial or incomplete attribution (this bullet needs to be fixed in section. It is out of line.

Self-Plagiarism

It is actually possible to plagiarize yourself, and this is one of the most misunderstood types of plagiarism for many college students.

  • If you write a paper for one class and later on have a similar assignment in another class, turning in the same paper the second time around is technically an academic integrity violation at many schools.
  • Although it can seem silly, the principle behind this policy is generally that it’s unfairly awarding double credit for work and misses the point of the assignment if some students can get out of doing the work for that class simply by virtue of having done something similar before.
  • If you ever have an assignment that you think you could recycle a previous paper for, it’s extremely important to ask your professor if you’re allowed to use anything from that previous paper. Professors vary in whether they allow this, and it’s certainly not worth risking earning an F by plagiarizing your own work!
  • Many colleges have in‐depth resources available through either the library or the academic integrity office. Take advantage of these resources to ensure that you stay on the right side of this policy.
  • Keep in mind that although the internet is a valuable resource for research and writing, it is far too easy to look something up on the internet, copy and paste, and forget to cite the source. There are also very tempting websites full of sample papers that some students will either use heavily or turn in as their own work.
Universities are increasingly using technology to detect and prevent plagiarism

Some colleges require students to submit papers through a service like “TurnItIn” or “SafeAssign” which are plagiarism prevention and detection software. Additionally, veteran teachers are often quite good at spotting when something in a paper seems out of place as compared to the rest of the document, or when a paper as a whole seems more advanced than reasonable for a student. Don’t risk it!

Falsification

  • Spoken or written untruths
  • a.k.a. fabrication or misrepresentation
  • Applies to coursework, emails, conversations, documents, and more

All of these are fancy words for lying. Regardless of the details, it’s a violation of the honor code at most schools to make anything up and represent it as the truth.

Be aware that this doesn’t only apply directly to coursework. Examples include:

  • Signing someone else’s name on an attendance sheet in class
  • Telling a professor that you missed class because you were sick when you weren’t
  • Making up a source for information in a paper
  • Using someone else’s login/password, ID card, key, access card, etc.
  • Forgery could also fall into this category (although some schools would list it as an entirely separate category)

Other Violations

Unauthorized collaboration (which may be classified under cheating at your school)- Working together on any assignment without permission to do so

Listen and watch while the topic of unauthorized collaboration is discussed as an academic integrity violation. [Transcript]

This can be a confusing issue. Although policies can vary from professor to professor, this is often linked to the university culture or the culture of your academic department. Many schools/departments/professors expect and encourage students to work together in the process of learning material for the course. However, they may make a distinction between collaboration for the purposes of studying and collaboration on any assignment that will be graded or turned in.

In college, the safest course of action is to assume that you must do all your work independently unless otherwise given permission to collaborate with classmates. Naturally, this wouldn’t apply to certain things, such as clarifying the instructions for an assignment or asking if a classmate could help you understand a certain point from the lecture or textbook. In addition, it generally would not apply to specific types of university‐provided resources such as tutoring centers, math labs, writing centers, etc. The staff in these centers are generally trained on acceptable ways to assist students without violating the honor code. However, it never hurts to double‐check with each professor at the beginning of the semester about what types of assistance are acceptable in that course. This can be a gray area sometimes. For example, if you are allowed to take an online quiz using open‐book and open notes, are you also allowed to take it sitting next to a classmate and discussing the questions and answers? If you are attending tutoring, are you allowed to get help on the specific math problems you need to turn in for a homework grade, or are you only allowed to get help on similar problems and then need to complete the actual homework problems independently? These are questions that you aren’t expected to know the answers to right now, as they will depend on your college, department, professor, etc.

Compromising security or integrity of an exam, assignment, or grading process

This is another topic that could fall under cheating, falsification, or another area. Examples of this would include telling a friend who is in a different section of the class (but has the same professor) what was on the quiz, or even simply telling someone that it’s important to be in class today because there will be a pop quiz or unexpected extra credit. Another example would be giving someone your completed workbook at the end of the semester because they’re taking the class next semester or handing over your old tests to someone about to take the class. It can also apply to more egregious violations like stealing a test, but those would be extremely rare.

Helping others to violate a policy

Anytime you assist someone else in committing a violation, you are also culpable and can be held responsible.

Failure to report a known violation

At many schools, students who know about someone else’s violation, even if they themselves had nothing to do with it, can be held responsible if they don’t report it. Although some students still view this as “tattling” or “snitching,” it reflects the idea that academic integrity is everyone’s responsibility and actions taken by others impact the entire university community. As a result, working together as a community is necessary and desirable in order to hold all its members accountable, maintain high standards, and keep the value of the degree being earned high.

Attempting to violate a policy in the code

Finally, be aware that at many schools, you do not have to actually go through with the violation in order to be held responsible. For example, if a professor discovered you texting a classmate during a test asking for an answer, you could be charged with an attempting to cheat violation even if you hadn’t pressed “send” yet, or if you had sent the message but didn’t receive a reply. In other words, you don’t have to succeed in breaking the rule to be sanctioned for it.

Parents Chime In

  • Academic integrity violations (cheating, plagiarism, falsification, and other violations) can be difficult concepts to understand. Read through each of these sections in this lesson. Once your child has read through them, take time to discuss the topics in depth and clarify any questions your child may have.

Possible Sanctions

  • Means consequences or punishments
  • Depending on the situation and the school’s guidelines/process, the professor may have the option to keep the matter internal to the class or department or to refer it to the university’s judicial board/department. In some cases, a student may receive sanctions from both sources; sometimes just one or the other.
  • Sanctions for academic integrity violations vary from college to college and, of course, on the violation. Here are some of the possibilities:
    • Failing the assignment/test/etc.
    • Failing the course entirely
    • Completing an educational assignment or program. E.g., writing a report on the types of plagiarism and how to avoid them; researching cheating scandals and presenting your findings to a group; etc.
    • Depending on the context of the violation, you could potentially be barred from certain privileges. For example, if you falsified records as part of a leadership position within a student organization, you might be removed from that leadership position or kicked out of the organization
    • Community service – this is more likely to happen for a conduct violation than an academic one, but it’s a possibility
    • Counseling – again, more likely for conduct than academic integrity, but still possible. This happens frequently for drug/alcohol violations on campus – students may be required to attend specific counseling for a required number of sessions.
    • Finally, for severe or repeated violations, the school may impose sanctions of probation (any more violations will result in steeper penalties), suspension (have to sit out a semester or more), or expulsion (can’t come back)

Why is Academic Integrity Important?

In Module 1, when learning about the contrasts between high school and college, one of the items mentioned was the difference in how seriously academic misconduct is taken. In general, colleges and universities take academic integrity very seriously. At many schools, students can even be expelled for certain severe violations or for repeated less‐severe violations.

As you can see from the violations and sanctions we discussed, this is not something that colleges take lightly.

This raises the question: Why it is such a big deal?

Discuss with your parents possible reasons why academic integrity is so important in the university setting.

Parents Chime In

  • Discuss with your child possible reasons why academic integrity is so important in the university setting.
  • Read through the scenarios from the “Academic Integrity Scenarios: What Would You Do?” worksheet with your child and ask them to tell you what they would do in each case. Talk about different ways to handle the situations.

Activity

Clink on the link below for the “Academic Integrity Scenarios: What Would You Do?” worksheet. Read through these scenarios with your parent/s and discuss what your response would be in each case. Think about different ways that each situation could be handled.

Click here to go to the Academic Integrity Scenarios: What Would You Do?” worksheet

Objective Check

Have you accomplished today's objective?

Objective: The student will list and define at least three accurate examples of academic integrity violations in the college setting s/he plans to attend.

If so, congratulations!

If not, go back to the website of the college/university that you plan to attend and with the help of your parent/s look for the academic integrity policies of that school. Find and discuss the consequences/sanctions for possible code violations.

For more information…Digging Deeper

  • Using the Academic Integrity Policies Worksheet (link is below), visit the website of the school you plan to attend and look up their academic integrity policies. List and define the major components of their honor code/policies and the potential consequences for the violations.
  • Journal – Using your journal from the Transition Notebook that you created in Module 1, answer these questions:
    • Have you ever cheated on something, such as a test, project, homework, or game?
    • Why did you make that choice?
    • What did you learn from the situation?
    • Thinking about it now, would you do it again?
    • What would your response be not if you were put in a similar situation?

Click here to go to the Academic Integrity Policies Worksheet