Cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty are taken seriously in post-secondary schools, and whether the misconduct is done purposefully or accidentally, there can be repercussions.
A recent cheating incident in a section of Organic Chemistry 241B caused Chemistry Instructor Lynn Miller to inform those in her classroom that multiple students needed to meet with her if they did not receive their exams back due to several students cheating on the exam.
“I don’t think we need to compound the punishment for the students by publishing the details in the school paper,” Miller said. “Academic misconduct is the most disappointing and least enjoyable aspect of my job. I trust that the students in my courses now have a renewed appreciation for the importance of integrity in the sciences, and I suspect we’re all happy to have this incident behind us.”
Miller declined to comment further.
According to SIUE’s Student Academic Code 3C2, acts of academic misconduct include plagiarism, cheating, failure or refusal to follow clinical practice standards, falsifying or manufacturing scientific or educational data and representing manufactured data to be the result of scientific or scholarly experiment or research.
Soliciting, aiding, abetting, concealing or attempting such acts is also considered misconduct. This applies to misconduct online as well as to face-to-face interactions.
Associate Professor and Coordinator for Policy, Communication and Issues of Concern Tom Jordan said plagiarism is the most common form of academic dishonesty. That’s why a separate policy regarding plagiarism, Plagiarism 1I6, was issued in 2011.
“In a response to controversy around plagiarism, there was a moment where people felt we needed to kind of highlight plagiarism as a special kind of academic misconduct, and, to be fair, [plagiarism] is the most common,” Jordan said.
Jordan said along with cheating and plagiarism, the Student Academic Code 3C2 covers misconduct in professional settings.
“Any time [students] are not able to meet professional standards, whatever that entails, that is also considered academic misconduct and is covered by that policy,” Jordan said.
Professors and instructors have four options when they believe academic misconduct has occurred.
The first option is for unintentional incidents of cheating, where a professor can discuss the misconduct and allow the student to correct the problem.
“With the first choice a faculty member could decide to say, ‘You know what, this is a beginning English class, and one of the things I am teaching students is how to cite materials correctly. This is our first assignment, and rather than do something harsh, I’m going to say this is a teaching moment, and I’m going to show the student why what they did was wrong,’” Jordan said.
Associate Professor in the Psychology Department Dan Segrist said he would rather students learn from their mistakes.
“With any form of cheating, I try to go with talking with the student first and getting information about what happened, and, if it’s the first offense, I try to go with the least punitive measure,” Segrist said. “If it can be turned into a teaching moment, that is ideal, in my opinion.”
The second option is failure for the assignment in the course, and the student must be notified in writing.
If the cheating were intentional, Segrist said he would take different measures.
“If they were cheating on an exam, and it was clear that they were doing that, depending on the exam and if it were a first offense, then I would probably either fail them for the test or create a whole new test for the student,” Segrist said.
The third option is a failing grade for the course. If chosen, depending on the circumstance, the chair, the director or the dean of graduate studies and research needs to be notified in writing, along with the student, the provost and the Office of the Dean.
Instructors must also notify the Office of the Registrar in writing immediately following the misconduct and state the student may not re-enroll in any other section of the course for that term, drop the course or change the registration to an audit.
The last option is the removal from field experiences such as clinical sites, field placements and travel studies. Instructors can remove students at any time in the case of academic misconduct.
For the last three options, students can file a grievance against faculty and staff for violations of their student rights due to the Student Grievance Code 3C3.
“The student grievance process requires that the chair holds a hearing that provides an official process with rules, due process and it gives both parties, the student and the faculty who don’t agree on something, to present evidence,” Jordan said.
For more information on policies and procedures regarding cheating and plagiarism, students, faculty and staff can visit SIUE’s academic misconduct website.