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VPCAI releases draft academic integrity recommendations, invites feedback from University community
VPCAI releases draft academic integrity recommendations, invites feedback from University communityNovember 08, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
When the Vice Chancellor and Provost’s Committee on Academic Integrity (VPCAI) convened in 2004, its goal was to assess the state of academic integrity at Syracuse University and, if necessary, make suggestions for improvement. Now, the committee has completed its research, including examining best practices and comparable institutions, and it has posted its proposed recommendations on academic integrity at SU. To view the complete recommendations,visit https://myslice.syr.edu.
Based on the results of the year-long research effort, the committee’s conclusions are the basis of the proposed recommendations for a new approach to academic integrity at SU. The proposed recommendations will be further refined, following input from the University community, before they are presented to the University Senate in January 2006.
“The VPCAI is comprised of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff who have been working together for more than a year to gather information and develop recommendations,” says Elletta Sangrey Callahan, committee chair and professor of law and public policy in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. “The approach we propose seeks to balance the interests of our students, faculty, the schools and colleges, and the University. Overall, it’s our objective to change the culture of the institution in this context-to work toward an environment where academic integrity is highly valued and supported.”
The proposed recommendations focus on the following areas:
The adoption of a unified University policy that would consolidate and expand on the 11 existing school/college policies, enabling the University to speak with one voice about academic honesty. Because policies differ significantly among the schools and colleges, members of the University community find the variations confusing. By proposing a University-wide approach, VPCAI hopes to attain a consistent, coordinated effort across campus. The policy would express the importance of academic integrity at SU, and define practices that would be considered cheating behaviors under the policy.
Creation of a set of coordinated procedures applicable to all schools and colleges that would facilitate reporting, resolutions, hearings and appeals in cases of suspected cheating and, when a violation is found to have occurred, a means of dealing with it in a consistent and systematic manner. The procedures would be implemented primarily by the schools and colleges. Students would play a key role in resolving academic integrity matters. A clearly stated set of procedures to address suspected academic integrity violations would ensure fairness to students suspected of violations and provide a set of resolution options to instructors who suspect cheating. Schools and colleges may adopt supplemental procedures that are consistent with the University’s procedures, providing a copy of supplemental procedures to be published as an appendix to the University’s academic integrity procedures wherever they are otherwise published by the University and/or the schools and colleges.
Employment of educational strategies for students, faculty and staff regarding academic integrity, which will enable them to understand and appreciate its value, and help them become informed about how to handle a suspected case of academic dishonesty. A successful academic integrity education strategy would promote students’ understanding of the University’s academic integrity policy and procedures, and motivate them to perform with honesty and use resources to ensure it in writing and research. Proposed methods of educating the University community include: written materials, online materials, presentations, discussions, workshops/seminars, Web-based tutorials, displays, campus media and a required academic integrity course for students who violate the University policy. Another recommendation is the acquisition of an institutional license for an online plagiarism detection service suchas http://turnitin.com.
Coordination of academic integrity communication and records to ensure that information regarding cases of academic integrity violations is handled consistently and thoroughly. Currently, a student’s home school or college may not become aware of an alleged violation if the suspected case is addressed by a different school or college. In addition, records of academic integrity violations by students who transfer within the University are not communicated to the receiving school or college. Because the University does not keep records of established violations, a student may have multiple violations in different schools or colleges that could be treated as first offenses. The committee recommends that the University keep records of established violations in a central location.The records would be maintained with strict confidentiality, but access to those records would be granted to a hearing panel after a subsequent violation is established, or with the student’s permission to an external party, such as an educational institution.
The establishment of a University academic integrity office (AIO), based in the office of Academic Affairs, that would provide resources and support for the schools, colleges and individual members of the University community. The AIO would coordinate University-wide initiatives and educational programs to raise awareness, offer training and consultation on academic integrity and serve as the coordinating office for maintaining records on policy violations. In addition, the office would compile and distribute an annual report on the status of academic integrity on campus. The AIO would also provide support for students charged with academic dishonesty. In consultation with the schools and colleges, the AIO would provide training for and advise school and college panel members hearing academic integrity cases.
The office would appoint, train and provide support for University academic integrity representatives (UAIRs), who would provide procedural expertise and facilitate consistency when they chair hearings of alleged academic dishonesty. UAIRs would be confirmed by the Vice Chancellor and Provost and may be University faculty, staff or administrators.
As the committee prepares its final recommendations, it invites all members of the University community to offer their input on academic integrity at SU. Two public forums-Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m., in Room 201C of Goldstein Student Center (South Campus); and Thursday, Nov. 17 at 4:30 p.m., in KittredgeAuditorium, Huntington Crouse Beard Hall-will give students, instructors, staff and administrators the chance to have their say about the new rules. Feedback will also be collected online athttp://provost.syr.edu/integritymatters.asp, and representatives of the VPCAI will meet with groups across campus in the coming weeks.
Based on survey data collected from students, faculty members and teaching assistants on matters related to academic integrity, the committee found that:
? Nearly 75% of undergraduates and 42% of SU graduate students say they have participated in one or more cheating behaviors during the past year. Academic research shows that, on average, 70% of students have cheated in college.
? About two-thirds of the faculty report being “unsatisfied” or “very unsatisfied” with how cases of suspected cheating are handled.
? Students report a “lack of communication on current expectations and policies” regarding academic dishonesty.