This page provides information to assist faculty members in addressing various concerns such as scholastic dishonesty. The established procedures for dealing with suspected incidents of scholastic dishonesty (or other student misconduct) are also included along with guidelines for navigating the student discipline process.
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- Addressing Academic Dishonesty in Your Syllabus
- Ways Students Commit Academic Dishonesty
- The Rights of the Student
- Procedures for Reporting an Academic Integrity Violation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Addressing Academic Dishonesty in Your Syllabus
We recommend that you include a statement in your syllabus emphasizing that academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. The syllabus should also include test-taking rules such as "no baseball caps or hats," "no books," and / or "ID required." The University also encourages you to follow through by confronting students suspected of violating the policies.
A suggested general statement for the syllabus is:
Policy on Academic Integrity
Students who violate University rules on academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and / or dismissal from the University. Since such dishonesty harms the individual, all students, and the integrity of the University, policies on academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced. For further information, please visit the Student Conduct and Academic Integrity website at: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/conduct.
It is important that your syllabus also cover individual policies relating to group projects and plagiarism. Students often claim they were unaware of academic integrity expectations because they were not outlined in the syllabus.
You might also want to consider attaching The University's Honor Code to your syllabus or even posting it in your classroom.
Ways Students Commit Academic Dishonesty
According to the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities, academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, unauthorized collaboration, falsifying academic records, and misrepresentation of facts. Some of the ways that students engage in dishonest behavior are shown below. This list was compiled with the assistance of students interested in helping faculty members confront such behavior more effectively.
Some students may commit academic dishonesty by:
- Engaging in unauthorized collaboration with another student on an assignment for credit;
- Submitting plagiarized materials obtained from the Internet and / or other sources for credit;
- Coughing and or using hand signals during a test;
- Concealing notes on hands or in caps, shoes, or pockets;
- Writing in blue books prior to an examination;
- Writing information on blackboards or desks or keeping notes on the floor;
- Obtaining copies of a test in advance, e.g., during an earlier exam period offered by the faculty member;
- Passing information from an earlier class to a later class;
- Leaving information in the restroom;
- Exchanging exams after they have been distributed so that neighbors have identical test forms;
- Having a substitute take a test and providing falsified or other identification for the substitute;
- Fabricating data for lab assignments;
- Changing a graded paper and requesting that it be regraded;
- Failing to turn in a test and later suggesting the faculty member has lost it;
- Stealing another student's graded test and writing one's own name on it;
- Submitting computer programs written by another person;
- Recording two answers one on the test form one on the answer sheet;
- Marking an answer sheet to enable another student to see the answer;
- Encircling two adjacent answers and claiming to have provided the correct answer;
- Stealing an exam for someone in another section or for placement in a test file;
- Using a programmable calculator to store test information;
- Taking another student's computer assignment printout from a computer lab;
- Transferring a computer file from one person's account to another;
- Transmitting posted answers for an exam to a student in a testing area via cell phone or other electronic device;
- Destroying or removing library materials to gain an academic advantage.
The Rights of the Student
A student who is accused of scholastic dishonesty (or a non-academic violation) is entitled to due process. That includes the right to know what evidence supports the allegation and the right to a hearing.
If the disciplinary matter is resolved administratively with a faculty member or Student Conduct and Academic Integrity staff member in the Office of the Dean of Students (Faculty Disposition or Administrative Disposition), a hearing is not required. However, the student may appeal the sanction by submitting a written appeal to either the President within fourteen (14) days of the administrative resolution.
If the disciplinary matter is resolved through a hearing, the student may appeal the hearing officer's decision regarding the findings and sanction by giving written notice to the President within fourteen (14) days after being notified of the hearing officer's decision.
All information concerning disciplinary matters, including academic dishonesty accusations and dispositions, is strictly confidential and therefore should be treated accordingly.
Note: The official University policies concerning the disciplinary process are outlined in Chapter 11 of the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities, which may be found in Appendix C of the General Information Catalog.
Procedures for Reporting an Academic Integrity Violation
Please go to our Report an Incident page to report all incidents (both academic and non-academic).
When referring an incident please include all supporting documentation which should include and is not limited to:
- Course syllabus
- Student's paper, test, lab report, homework assignment, project (along with source material)
- Screen shots of documents that were uploaded to a website without your authorization
- Any correspondence between you and the student
- Any witness statements and names
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if my Teaching Assistant observed or identified a suspected incident of academic dishonesty?
- What if I need to submit a grade and the student's disciplinary matter is still pending?
- What if more than one student is involved in a disciplinary matter?
- Is there an appeal process?
- Why are the outlined steps of the discipline process necessary?
What if my Teaching Assistant observed or identified a suspected incident of academic dishonesty?
Teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and proctors also play an important role in addressing academic dishonesty, and are often the first individuals to identify or observe suspected violations. With that in mind, you should emphasize to them the importance of promptly notifying you of any such incidents and providing you with the supporting evidence, including detailed accounts of their observations. Only faculty members are authorized to resolve this type of violation with a student, done through a Faculty Disposition (pdf) or a referral to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. See the Student Conduct Process flow chart (pdf) for more information.
What if I need to submit a grade and the student's disciplinary matter is still pending?
If the disciplinary matter remains unresolved at the end of a semester (or summer session), you must assign an incomplete (grade of "X") to the student.
What if more than one student is involved in a disciplinary matter?
In suspected incidents involving multiple parties, you may determine that there are differing levels of accountability. If so, assess sanctions accordingly to the students who accept a Faculty Disposition (pdf), and refer to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity the disciplinary matters of those students who decline that resolution. At this point, it would be premature to inform any other students in the same group that their matters are being dismissed, even if you believe that they committed no wrongdoing. Decisions regarding their accountability should only be made after Student Conduct and Academic Integrity has completed an investigation of the alleged misconduct. You should submit an incident report and list all the EIDs of the students involved or you can submit a separate Faculty Referral / Faculty Disposition Form (pdf) for each individual student.
Is there an appeal process?
Yes. With either an administrative resolution or a University hearing, the student may appeal to the President. If the disciplinary matter is resolved administratively (i.e., through a Faculty Disposition (pdf) or a Student Conduct Administrative Disposition), the student may appeal the sanction within fourteen (14) days of that resolution; this appeal goes directly to the University president. If the disciplinary matter is resolved through a University hearing, the student or Dean of Students may appeal the findings and / or the sanction within fourteen (14) days after being notified of the hearing officer's decision. See the Student Conduct Process flow chart (pdf) for more information.
Why are the outlined steps of the discipline process necessary?
You may wonder why attention to the outlined procedures is necessary, particularly when it is obvious (or at least appears to be obvious) that a student has cheated.
One reason is rooted in the consistent judicial interpretation of the guaranteed due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike the highly subjective process of evaluating the quality of a student's performance on assignments, which has been afforded considerable judicial deference, an allegation of academic dishonesty is an assertion that a person has violated a University rule. Whether or not that assertion is true is a fact to be established, not assumed, even when such an assumption seems quite reasonable.
Confronting what appears to be impermissible behavior is certainly appropriate, but keep in mind that many students have difficulty acknowledging their involvement in academic dishonesty and may deny any wrongdoing, even when reportedly "caught in the act." Some students, in fact, are incredibly contentious despite compelling evidence against them. And students facing probable suspension (likely for repeated and / or egregious violations) may feel that they have nothing to lose in challenging allegations, notwithstanding the evidence. Students may also be inclined to shift the focus from the evidence of their misconduct to any possible missteps by the University in the disciplinary process.
Not surprisingly, courts have remained insistent that colleges and universities, at a minimum, follow their own procedures. Those in effect at The University of Texas at Austin have been designed to protect the interests of students, faculty members, administrators, and the institution. Evidence so convincing as to substantiate an on-the-spot determination that a student is cheating should remain sufficiently compelling after the incident if the accused student disputes the allegation.
In short, observing the established procedures for student disciplinary matters is essential, even if the outlined steps appear to be unnecessary and burdensome requirements for reaching a conclusion. Such legalities may at times cause understandable frustrations, but they are realities under which we are obliged to function. Following the proper steps rarely prevents us from arriving at an appropriate outcome. Our goal is to do so in a manner that is beyond reproach. This, of course, requires a collaborative effort by all of us at the University who place a high value on academic integrity.
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