Academic integrity is a critical part of your educational experience. All students are expected to be honest in all of their academic activities. When you submit your transcript to a potential employer or graduate school, they will assume the grades listed there accurately represent what you have learned. It is important for you to understand what cheating is, what the consequences are, and how you can make sure to avoid it. Your efforts to earn your grades honestly will help create a culture of academic integrity.
What’s wrong with cheating?
Cheating hurts everyone.
• Students who cheat aren’t learning what they need to learn, and their character and self-esteem are damaged. They know they didn’t earn their grades honestly.
• One student’s cheating may cause other students to get a lower grade. It is frustrating and demoralizing to see others around them cheating while they are working hard for their grades and makes them feel their efforts aren’t worth it.
• Cheating hurts the university as a whole because students who aren’t actually qualified may graduate. If a university gets a reputation for cheating, the degrees of everyone will be devalued, even those who earned them honestly.
• Perhaps the people who are hurt most by cheating are future employers, clients, or patients of those who cheated. Who wants to be treated by a doctor who cheated on her exams or hire an accountant who cheated in his classes? Students who obtained their grades dishonestly will also have a bigger likelihood of being dishonest in their future jobs.
Why do students cheat?
There are lots of reasons why some students cheat.
• Ignorance Some may not realize that what they are doing is dishonest — that’s one good reason to keep reading and make sure you know what is allowed in a college setting and what is not.
• Everybody’s doing it Some may see other students doing it and feel justified in joining them. They may even feel that if other students are cheating, they have to join in to have a chance at getting a good grade.
• Pressure to succeed Some may succumb to pressure to succeed, either from family, friends, or their own expectations.
• Course is too easy Some may feel that the material is too easy or too trivial and not worth their time.
• Course is too hard Some may feel that the course is too hard, expectations are unreasonable, and cheating is the only possible way to succeed.
• Not willing to do the work Some students are just lazy, looking for an easy way to get grades without working for them.
• I deserve it Some may feel a sense of entitlement — they paid for the class and thus feel they deserve to get a good grade.
Have you ever been tempted by any of these excuses? Even though they may seem like good excuses, that’s just what they are — excuses. None of the reasons given above justify cheating. They might make you feel OK about it for a while — at least until you’re caught. They’ll seem pretty lame when you’re trying to defend yourself to a professor, department chair, the dean of students, or the Academic Integrity Committee.
And if you cheat and get away with it, you didn’t beat the system. You just traded your integrity for a few points. Even if you have to retake a class or graduate a semester later, it is better than having “failed for academic misconduct” on your transcript.
What are some motivations to avoid cheating?
Despite the temptation to cheat, most students are able to maintain their academic integrity. Here are some reasons NOT to cheat.
• Fear of negative consequences can be a big deterrent to cheating — and those consequences can be pretty serious, as you’ll see on the next page.
• Positive peer pressure can help too; when you see others around you working hard and earning their grades honestly, it can motivate you to do the same.
• Your own integrity and self-respect will lead you to be honest in your coursework.
• A desire for real learning should motivate you to do the hard work that is needed to earn your grades honestly.
What are the possible consequences if you cheat?
Cheating is a serious issue in college, and is taken seriously by professors and other university employees. The following is taken from the Student Code of Conduct in the Dixie State University Catalog and explains the consequences that can occur from academic misconduct.
~ Excerpt taken from Student Code of Conduct ~
If a faculty member has firm evidence of academic misconduct in a course he/she is instructing, the claim of academic misconduct shall be considered substantiated. In all cases, the sanction for academic misconduct should reflect how knowing, intentional, and serious the instructor judges the academic dishonesty to be. The faculty member may impose the following sanctions:
i. Require that the work be redone, an exam retaken, or an alternate assignment substituted.
ii. Reduce the grade for the assignment or other academic activity
iii. Reduce the grade for the course.
iv. Issue a grade of “F” for the paper, project, test, exam, or other academic activity in which the misconduct occurred.
v. Issue a failing grade for the course.
The student may appeal the faculty member’s decision to the Academic Integrity Committee, which is comprised of faculty and students.
If the faculty member believes that the student’s academic misconduct warrants further academic sanctioning, he/she may submit a written complaint with recommendations to the appropriate Department Chair, who forwards the request with his/her recommendations to the appropriate Dean. A faculty member, Department Chair, or Dean may also take a complaint directly to the Academic Appeals Committee.
Academic sanctions that can be imposed by the Academic Appeals Committee in these cases include but are not limited to the following:
i. A notation on the student’s academic transcript that the F grade in a specific course was issued for academic misconduct.
ii. Academic Conduct Censure or Probation. Academic Conduct Probation imposes conditions on a student for a specific period of time.
iii. Specified community service.
iv. Academic Conduct Suspension or Dismissal from a program. Academic Conduct Suspension shall be for a minimum of one semester following the semester the student is found responsible for academic misconduct. Academic Dismissal from a program is usually irrevocable.
v. Academic Conduct Suspension or Dismissal from the University. Academic Conduct Suspension shall be for a minimum of one semester following the semester the student is found responsible for academic misconduct. Dismissal from the university shall be reserved for the most serious or egregious instances of academic misconduct.
vi. Denial of a degree or certificate for which requirements have been completed or revocation of an awarded student’s degree or certificate. Grounds for denial or revocation include convincing evidence that the degree recipient engaged in academic misconduct serious enough to negate the legitimate completion of one or more substantive requirements of that degree or certificate. Revocation of an awarded degree or certificate requires the additional approval of the President of the University.
A student may appeal any decision of the Academic Integrity Committee to the Vice President of Academic Services, whose decision shall be final.
Did you catch those? Your professor can do anything from make you redo the work or reduce your grade to fail you on that assignment or exam, or give you a failing grade for the entire class. It will depend on the professor’s judgment of how serious the offense was. For example, copying answers on a homework assignment is not generally considered as serious as cheating on an exam. The professor’s decision may also depend on how you respond to the situation — if you admit what you’ve done, apologize, and willingly accept the consequences, the professor may chose a different consequence than if you continue to deny that you’ve done anything wrong even when there is obvious evidence.
Notice also that this policy gives you somewhere to seek help if you are falsely accused of cheating or if you feel a professor’s sanctions are unreasonable. You can appeal your professor’s decision to the Academic Integrity Committee, where you will have a chance to explain your side of the story.
The consequences for academic dishonesty don’t always end with the professor. If he or she feels that the situation is serious enough, the professor can also make recommendations for further sanctions by the Academic Appeals Committee. This committee can put a note on your permanent transcript that you failed a class because of cheating, put you on probation, require community service, suspend or dismiss you from a program, suspend or dismiss you from the university, or even deny or revoke your degree. The only appeal of these actions is the vice president of Academic Services. This is pretty serious stuff!
What is cheating?
Now that you understand how serious the consequences can be, let’s look at how the Student Code of Conduct explains what academic dishonesty is.
~ Excerpt taken from Student Code of Conduct ~
In order to ensure that the highest standards of academic conduct are promoted and supported at the University, students must adhere to generally accepted standards of academic honesty, including but not limited to, refraining from cheating, plagiarizing, falsification, misrepresentation, and/or inappropriately colluding or collaborating. The University shall consistently hold students accountable for instances of academic dishonesty and apply appropriate consequences. Definitions for some types of academic misconduct follow:
i. Cheating: Includes but is not limited to using unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise; failing to observe the expressed procedures or instructions of an academic exercise; substituting for or impersonating someone else during a test or exam or other fraud; or receiving the content of a test or exam before it is administered.
ii. Plagiarism: Includes but is not limited to the use of another’s words or ideas as if they were one’s own, including, but not limited to, representing, either with the intent to deceive or by the omission of the true source, part of or an entire work produced by someone other than the student, obtained by purchase or otherwise, as the student’s original work or representing the identifiable but altered ideas, data, or writing of another person as if those ideas, data, or writing were the student’s original work.
iii. Inappropriate Collaboration or Collusion: Includes but is not limited to unauthorized or inappropriate collaboration between students or between a student and any other person when individual work is required.
iv. Multiple Submissions: Includes but is not limited to the resubmission by a student of any work which has been previously submitted for credit in identical or similar form in one course to fulfill the requirements of a second course, without the informed permission / consent of the instructor of the second course; or the submission by a student of any work submitted for credit in identical or similar form in one course to fulfill the requirements of a concurrent course, without the permission / consent of the instructors of both courses.
v. Falsification / Fabrication / Misrepresentation: Includes but is not limited to the intentional and unauthorized invention of any data, information, or citation in an academic activity.
vi. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Includes but is not limited to knowingly helping another student commit an act of academic misconduct or failing to report another student for academic misconduct.
vii. Coercion Regarding Grading or Evaluation of Coursework: Includes but is not limited to issuing threats or offering favors or bribes toward an instructor to coerce the instructor to change a grade or otherwise evaluate the student’s work by criteria not directly reflective of coursework.
viii. Copyright Violation: Includes but is not limited to copyright and other violations of the University’s Computer Use Policy 6-53 and Use of IT Resources Policy. Such matters are adjudicated under the Student Behavioral Conduct section of this code.
Did you catch all of those? Cheating includes everything from copying answers from another student’s exam to using the same paper in two classes without permission to asking a student who has already taken a test what is on it. Anything that gives you an unfair advantage over other students should be considered cheating. When you write your name on an assignment, paper, or exam, you are stating that it is your work, not your roommate’s, your mother’s, your friend’s, your classmate’s, or some one on the Internet’s.
Who’s job is it to stop cheating from happening?
Again, here is a section from the Student Code of Conduct:
~ Excerpt taken from Student Code of Conduct ~
Any person who observes or discovers academic misconduct by a student must file a written complaint with the faculty member responsible for the pertinent academic activity within fifteen (15) days of the date of discovery of the alleged violation. A student’s failure to report academic misconduct on the part of another can result in academic misconduct charges against that student.
A faculty member who discovers or receives a complaint of misconduct relating to an academic activity for which the faculty member is responsible shall take action under this code and impose an appropriate sanction for the misconduct.
So the short answer is it’s everyone’s job.
It starts with professors, who have a responsibility to avoid making the material too easy or unreasonably difficult. Professors should also design courses, assignments, and exams to discourage cheating, but it is not their job to make cheating impossible. When they discover or receive a complaint of cheating, they are responsible to act on it.
But it doesn’t end there. Students are responsible to hold each other to a standard of academic integrity, encourage each other to be honest, and report cheating that they find out about. If you become aware of cheating in a class, you should inform the professor in writing within 15 days. Otherwise you could get in trouble too!
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with each student to be honest in his or her coursework.
How can you avoid the temptation to cheat?
What can you do to make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of academic dishonesty? Here are some suggestions.
1. Make sure you understand what behaviors constitute cheating.
Review the definitions above from time to time and make sure you aren’t doing anything that you shouldn’t without thinking about it.
2. Make sure you know what is and is not allowed in each of your classes.
Sometimes working with other students is encouraged and other times you must complete an assignment on your own. Listen carefully when your professor explains the guidelines for an assignment and read any instructions carefully as well.
3. Make a commitment to yourself that you will avoid all behaviors that are not honest.
By deciding ahead that you will maintain your integrity, you increase your ability to refrain from cheating when the pressure is on.
4.Don’t get yourself into a situation that makes you feel like the only way to succeed is to cheat.
Don’t take too many classes or work too many hours. If you find yourself unable to keep up in your classes despite your best efforts, drop a class, get a new job, etc.
5. Don’t put off studying for an important exam.
Plan enough time to study so that you won’t end up unprepared and be tempted to cheat. If you are struggling with the material, get help! Go to the Tutoring Center, study with a classmate, or ask for help during your professor’s office hours.
6. Don’t wait until the last minute to start on papers or projects.
Break down writing assignments and other large projects into small deadlines that you can deal with one at a time. Avoid putting yourself in a situation in which you end up staring at a blank computer screen the night before the assignment is due and get tempted to copy and paste something in and present it as if it were your own.
7. When writing a paper, take notes in your own words from your sources.
Use your notes to write the paper, not the sources. If you have someone else’s finished sentences in front of you, it will be hard to resist the temptation to copy them or just try to change them around instead of writing your own words. Plagiarism is one of the most common forms of academic dishonesty.
8. If you have personal problems, health problems, etc., approach your professor or visit with the dean of students.
Ask for accommodations rather than cheating to save your grade. If you have serious medical issues or other problems, the dean of students can help coordinate with your professors.
By following these suggestions, you should be able to avoid getting into situations in which you would be tempted to cheat, and to have the integrity to resist the temptation when it occurs. Then when you graduate, you can hold your head high, knowing you’ve earned the right to be there.