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Suggestions for Informal Resolution

The following information has been compiled in an attempt to make the student academic dishonesty process as easy and efficient as possible. Students have the right to proceed through UMD's academic grievance process if they disagree with the allegations and/or the faculty member's sanction. Therefore, it is in everyone's best interest to resolve academic dishonesty at the lowest level possible. The following suggestions are for your consideration in handling student academic dishonesty.

Faculty Members

  1. Once you have determined that academic dishonesty has occurred, inform the student that you need to meet with the student as soon as possible (preferably give the student a deadline date). This can be done via e-mail. If done in person, be discreet in any conversations you have with the student, as these proceedings are confidential. Others should not be present, unless they are serving as a witness for you.
  2. Document as much pertinent information as possible (e.g., date, time, any witnesses to the incident). If applicable, make a copy of the student's original work. Sometimes, if work is handed back to a student, what is presented in subsequent meetings is not exactly the same piece(s) as what the student originally submitted.
  3. Before meeting with the student, have a tentative outcome in mind in terms of a sanction. Base this on your written/stated expectations and standards for the class. Consider that there are three levels of offenses, and a minor offense should have a less severe outcome than a major offense (see Levels of Offenses below). By taking the levels of offenses into account, it is more likely that the incident can be resolved between you and the student.
  4. During your meeting with the student, present what evidence you have to support your allegations.
  5. Allow the student an opportunity to respond to the allegation.
  6. After carefully listening to the student and taking his/her response into account, inform the student what action you will be taking. If you need additional time to think about the situation, or need to check on aspects of what the student has told you, let the student know you will get back to him/her as soon as possible. There is a wide range of outcomes, which is up to your discretion. You may decide to dismiss the incident if you determine it was merely inexperience or careless workmanship. Conversely, it may be a major offense where a sanction such as a grade of F on the assignment or a grade of F in the course is appropriate. In either case, use this as an educational opportunity with the student.
  7. Have the student sign the Report of Academic Dishonesty form, indicating that they (1) accept the sanction, or (2) disagree with the allegation or the severity of the sanction. If a student disagrees with the allegation or the sanction, this should not be held against the student. Note: Some situations make it difficult or impossible to get a student's signature (e.g., independent study, online course). The academic integrity officer can work with you on your specific situation; for example, you may be able to have the student respond to your e-mail accepting responsibility.
  8. Inform the student that you will be sending the Report of Academic Dishonesty to the academic integrity officer. Once the report is received, the academic integrity officer will send a letter to the student outlining the misconduct and the sanction imposed by the faculty member. [Unless it is a very severe case, no further sanctioning is imposed by the academic integrity officer for a first offense. A second offense may result in a suspension or an expulsion from the University. There is no notation made on the student's transcript.] If the student disagreed with the allegation or the sanction, the academic integrity officer will contact the student to help him/her through the academic grievance process.

Department Heads

When students are accused of academic dishonesty, they have the right to disagree with the allegations and/or severity of the sanction imposed by the professor. In accordance with UMD's Academic Grievance Policy, if the case is not resolved between the professor and student, the next step is for the student to meet with the department head. [If the professor is the department head, the student meets with the assistant/associate dean in your college.] The academic integrity officer will provide you with the Report of Academic Dishonesty and the evidence. The student will contact you to schedule a meeting.

To ensure that students are provided their due-process rights, your role is to meet with the student and to listen to the student's side of the story. Be open minded and willing to address the student's concern. Likewise, you most likely will need to consult with the professor before and/or after meeting with the student to hear the professor's account.

If you feel the allegations are correct and/or the sanction is appropriate, use this as an educational opportunity to help the student understand why you are supporting the professor's decision. If you feel the allegations and/or sanction are inappropriate, speak with the professor, and offer a resolution to the problem. As uncomfortable as this may be, it is a critical step in the process and will help in our goal to resolve cases at the lowest level possible.

Send the student an e-mail confirming your finding, and copy the academic integrity officer. Inform the student that he/she must contact the academic integrity officer if your finding is not acceptable to the student and he/she wants to proceed through the academic grievance process. If a resolution is not reached between the department head and the student, the next step in the process is to have the student meet with the assistant/associate dean of the college.

Levels of Offenses

In determining what sanction you will impose, take into account what the student has had to say and what level of offense occurred. The bulleted items are examples meant to clarify a category, rather than being the only options within that level. Again, this is a suggestion, as you determine the expectations for your classroom.

Minor Offenses

In general, minor offenses involve errors in judgment without a clear intent by the student to violate academic integrity.

  • student paraphrases or copies a sentence (or two) without citing the source, or provides an improper citation
  • student copies part of the work of another student exactly on an assignment on which collaboration is allowed but copying is not

Moderate Offenses

In general, moderate offenses are unpremeditated dishonest acts that directly affect only one student.

  • student cheats, or facilitates the cheating of another, on an examination (in cases where there is no evidence of premeditation)
  • student tries to gain an advantage in an exam by removing reserved materials from a lab or library to have additional study time at home
  • student fabricates a false reason to miss an exam, report deadline, or other academic obligation

Major Offenses

In general, major offenses are premeditated dishonest acts or dishonest acts that directly affect the grade of other students.

  • student poses as, or facilitates another posing as, someone else during an exam
  • student cheats or facilitates the cheating of another on an examination in a way that is premeditated (e.g., using a cheat sheet, a prearranged system of sharing answers, or some similar method that was planned in advance)
  • student places his/her name on a written assignment he/she did not write. This includes copying old assignments such as term papers and lab reports that were written by others in previous years.

Source (for levels of offenses): Penn State University; used with permission

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Last modified on 03/28/12 03:35 PM
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