Student Affairs - Fostering Student Learning and Success

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For Instructors

One of the more difficult parts of promoting academic integrity as a instructor is deciding what to do once you suspect a student has engaged in academic dishonesty. The following information is designed to help you understand how confront a student who may have engaged in academic dishonesty, and how to submit a referral to the Honor System for review.

STEP 1: Confronting the student

If you decide to meet with a student you believe may have committed academic dishonesty, please feel free to do so.  When appropriate, we encourage instructors to discuss their concerns with the student, and inform the student of your decision to refer the suspected misconduct to the Honor System. If you decide to meet with the student, please be reminded that you should not ask the student any questions that could be considered self-incriminating. Students are afforded the right not to make self-incriminating statements during an Honor System investigation.  Your conversation with the student could be used as evidence if the matter is referred to the Honor Court.

If you choose to meet with an accused student prior to referring a case to the Honor System, please consider the types of questions you ask and the type of information you are seeking. 
Here are some tips on asking question that can be helpful when talking to a student you suspect 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? Did you understand my expectations with regard to this assignment/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? Did you cheat on this exam? Did someone else assist you with this assignment?
  • 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. Make sure you let the student know that the final determination will be made by the Honor System and they will have an opportunity to provide their account and respond to the accusation.  If, after meeting with the student, you still suspect a violation may have occurred, you should refer the matter to the Student Attorney General for a review.

STEP 2: Gather all pertinent materials

You should gather all materials related to the allegations.  All this information will be needed by the Student Attorney General in the review of the incident.  Some materials which can be considered evidence are:

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

STEP 3: Prepare the referral

Please provide a narrative (including the name and PID of the accused student) explaining what you believe occurred, including as much detail as possible.  The referral is the information the Student Attorney General will use to begin the preliminary investigation.  The more details and supporting materials you can provide the better. Where appropriate, please provide additional written statements by other witnesses, narratives completed by co-instructors, or Teaching Assistants.  These individuals may be called as factual witnesses should a hearing take place.

End of term grades

If a case involving one of your students has not been resolved prior to the end of the term, please enter a grade of "IN", or Incomplete for the course in question.  The Office of Student Conduct will contact the Registrar's Office and have the incomplete grade changed to "NG" until the case has been resolved.

As always, if you have any question, please contact the Office of Student Conduct at 919-962-0805.