Preventing & Confronting Alleged Violations

Preventing & Confronting Alleged Violations

One of the most difficult parts for faculty members of promoting academic integrity is deciding what to do once there arises the concern that students have engaged in academic dishonesty.

The following information is designed to help faculty and other instructors understand how to prevent academic dishonesty, how to confront a student who may have engaged in academic dishonesty, and how to submit a referral to the Honor System for review.

Before an Exam

In order to reiterate the Honor Code’s expectation of student academic integrity, many faculty members take special care to emphasize how seriously they take academic integrity before distributing exams.

Some strategies include:

  • Reiterate the reasons why the Honor Code exists;
  • Require that everyone to sign the Honor Pledge before the instructor leaves the room;
  • Indicate that papers on which the Pledge is not signed will not be graded;
  • Reiterate the high expectations of student conduct; and
  • Reiterate faculty’s obligation to report suspected misconduct to the Honor System.

Suspecting Academic Dishonesty

When faculty believe that students may have committed academic dishonesty, they are encouraged,when appropriate, to meet with students to discuss their concerns, and, when necessary, to inform students of the decision to refer the suspected academic misconduct to the Honor System.

If faculty decide to meet with students, they should remember to not ask the student any questions which could be considered self-incriminating. Students are afforded the right not to make self-incriminating statements during an Honor System investigation, and these conversations could be used as evidence if the matter is referred to the Honor Court.  As such, if faculty choose to meet with an accused student prior to referring a case to the Honor System, prior to the meeting they should carefully consider the type of questions they will ask and the type of information they  will seek.

Here are some tips on asking question that can be helpful for faculty and other instructors when talking to students suspected of academic dishonesty:

  • Open-ended questions (those that can't be answered with a yes or no) are often good to begin with: How did you prepare for this exam? How do you explain the similarities between your work and what I found on the internet?
  • Closed-ended questions, specifically seeking a "yes" or "no", may be both necessary and important: Did you understand my expectations with regard to this exam/paper?
  • Directive statements are sometimes best used to get to the point: Please tell me where you found this source? Tell me how you solved this problem on the exam?

Once confronted, some students will immediately accept responsibility.  Others may act completely surprised or strongly deny any involvement. If, after meeting with the student, it is still suspected a violation of the Honor Code occurred, the incident should refer the matter to the Honor System.  Should faculty choose to share with a student that they are referring the case to the Honor Court, they should be sure to let the student know that the final determination will be made by the Honor System and that the student will have an opportunity to provide their account and to respond to the accusation.

Gather All Pertinent Materials

Reporting parties should gather all materials related to the allegation(s), as this information will be needed by the respective Student Attorney General in his or her investigation. These materials include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Copies of assignment(s) or exam(s) in question
  • Relevant Email correspondence
  • Copy of the course syllabus
  • All original materials
  • Other materials to support the allegation(s)

Making a Referral

Referring parties should prepare a written narrative (including the name and PID of the accused student) explaining what they believe occurred, including as much detail as possible. The narrative provides most of the information the respective Student Attorney General will use to begin the preliminary investigation, thus the more detail and supporting materials provided, the better. Where appropriate, provide additional written statements by other factual witnesses narratives, such as co-instructors or teaching assistants. These individuals may be called as factual witnesses should a hearing take place.

Reporting A Grade

Once a student is reported to our office for an alleged Honor Code violation, the Office of Student Conduct will contact the Registrar's Office and request that an "NG" be reported for the course in question until the case has been resolved.

Knowing Your Rights

Referring parties, or complainants, have basic procedural rights protected by the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance. These rights outline the level of participation allowed to the referring party as well as the ability to make recommendations regarding sanctioning.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact the Office of Student Conduct at 919.962.0805 or