Develop a Strategy
Meeting with a Student Suspected of Academic Misconduct
More often, you will become suspicious that academic misconduct has occurred only after the fact. In such circumstances, it is particularly useful to meet with the student in question prior to submitting the report form describing the suspected Honor Code violation. Faculty members are encouraged by Faculty Council resolution to consider meeting with students suspected of misconduct so that the instructor has the opportunity to make a full assessment of what happened, and retains the opportunity to employ this “teachable moment” to educate the student what they did wrong and how to avoid future problems. Here are some suggestions on how to make such meetings proceed relatively smoothly.
Prepare for the discussion by reviewing policies and facts
- Know the facts. Familiarize yourself with the prohibitions on academic misconduct contained in the Honor Code itself and the information you will need to complete the form for reporting suspected academic misconduct. If you want clarification or guidance, contact the Student Attorney General, Judicial Programs Office, or a member of the Honor System Faculty Advisory Committee. Also review the procedural protections afforded students under the System so that you may reference them or advise the student to seek specific guidance on these points from the Student Attorney General.
Think critically and make notes. Think carefully about the basis for your suspicion of misconduct and make careful notes about what you already know and what you’ll want to find out or explore. For example, ask yourself
- What conduct you observed or other evidence you have that has given rise to your suspicion: "Did the student in question do something in particular? Was a paper submission out of character with prior work or was language use uncharacteristic? If the conduct occurred in connection with a classroom examination, what did you observe about the conduct of this student and others?"
- What your expectations have been about conduct of this sort and how you have expressed them to student: "Were particular instructions given with regard to the assignment or examination? How did the conduct run afoul of your expectations?"
- What additional information you may need or want to consider before proceeding to meet with the student or report the suspected misconduct: "Do you want to check student work through use of an online resource? Do you want to review other students’ papers once again? Do you want to talk with a colleague about his or her own experience with similar circumstances? If you’re uncertain about your assessment of the situation, exactly what questions do you think you want resolved?"
Set up a meeting with the student if you believe it would be worthwhile
- Act as promptly as feasible. You may choose to meet with the student either before or after submitting a report of the suspected misconduct, but many faculty members have found it more useful to arrange such a meeting immediately in order to get pertinent information that may prove helpful in completing the report form (including information on what happened, the type particular type of violation in question, and the sanctions that they believe should be imposed).
Maintain confidentiality. Bear in mind the importance of confidentiality in making arrangements for such a meeting. Consider returning a paper without a grade along with a note on the student’s paper asking him or her to set up a meeting. Catch the student alone after class, or drop the student an email note simply asking them to set up a meeting time without getting into details. It is best not to leave phone messages that might be overheard by others.