The overarching question that informs this FAQ is:
Q: What are the current policies that govern academic integrity matters at Dawson?
A: Academic integrity matters are governed by ISEP, the Collective Agreement, and Program and Department policies consistent with the above.
STATUS QUO VERSUS NEED FOR CHANGE
In 2012, the Board of Governors passed an Academic Integrity Policy which establishes Dawson’s institutional interest in this subject. As a consequence, a set of guiding principles were developed by the Academic Integrity Committee (which is a subcommittee of the Quality of Education Committee, which is a subcommittee of Senate) and the community was consulted on them. Now, procedures are currently in development that honor the Academic Integrity Policy and take into account the principles that have been adopted.
- Education as a transformative measure
- Equity as a framework
- Innocent until proven guilty
- Fair procedure
- Mitigating factors
- The individual’s responsibility to know
A detailed version of the principles document was sent to Senators via the portal.
Are current practices for dealing with infractions of the norms of academic integrity considered effective?
The short answer is no. According to the Academic Integrity survey (2010) the majority of faculty believe the prevalence of cheating and plagiarism are serious problems. However, one half of the faculty claimed they have ignored incidents of cheating. The main reason given by faculty for not doing addressing such incidents was ‘lack of proof.’42% of students believe that ‘plagiarism on written assignments’ occurs very often, while 66% believe that ‘inappropriate sharing in group assignments’ occurs very often. 72% of students surveyed claimed they observed incidents of cheating on tests at least once, while 87% of students said it was ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ that they would report an incident of cheating.A copy of the Academic Integrity Survey (2010) was made available to Senators via the portal.
We already have departmental and program policies for dealing with cheating and plagiarism. Why don’t we just implement them more effectively rather than instituting new ones?
It may not be the case that all departments and programs have academic integrity policies/procedures. Even if they do, it cannot be presumed that they are consistent with one another. This is difficult to reconcile with the principle of due process and of equity which have already been discussed at Senate.
CURRENT ACADEMIC INTEGRITY PROCEDURES
The academic grievance procedure is outlined in ISEP, (Section IV A and Appendix VII).A flow chart detailing the academic grievance procedure was made available to senators via the portal.
“When one or more students have a disagreement with a teacher over issues arising in the classroom or concerning course requirements, they may present an academic grievance.” (ISEP p.39) The procedure is designed to resolve accusations of cheating and plagiarism, grades, and adherence to the course outline. If a dispute cannot be resolved in discussion with the teacher/program coordinator/Sector Dean, an Academic Grievance Committee may be convened if the Sector Dean deems it appropriate. The Academic Grievance Committee makes a determination with regard to cheating and plagiarism and renders its decision within 15 days. According to ISEP, the Academic Grievance Committee makes recommendations in writing to the Sector Dean, the chair and/or coordinator, the teacher and the student.
To what extent is the current academic grievance procedure used to deal with cheating and plagiarism?
All sectors are currently using the academic grievance procedure described above to address cases of cheating and plagiarism. The Academic Grievance Committee reviews evidence from both the teacher and the student and makes a determination as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the claim of cheating or plagiarism.
According to ISEP the academic grievance procedure is used for courses in progress. ISEP states that a grade review can be requested “once a course is finished and the grade is submitted”. (ISEP p.24) Both processes are similar in that requests are submitted to the Sector Dean and the Sector Dean decides if there are sufficient grounds to proceed. The processes are different in composition. A grade review committee is composed of three teachers including the teacher who submitted the grade in question. The student is not a member of the committee but can provide evidence. The teacher who submitted the grade is a member of the grade review committee. An academic grievance committee is composed of “three people appointed by the Dean in consultation with the department chair. Normally at least one of these committee members will be a teacher.” (ISEP p. 39) Both the student and the teacher can give evidence to the academic grievance committee but neither is a member of the committee.
The grade review procedure is spelled out in ISEP (Section IV B p.24) and the Collective Agreement (8-1.02) to address disputes with regard to final grades. A student “may request, in writing, that the Sector Dean initiate a grade review.”(ISEP p.40) The department chair, at the request of the Sector Dean, convenes the Grade Review Committee. The Grade Review Committee may retain or modify a student’s final grade.
Does the College currently have cheating and plagiarism procedures to deal with on the spot vs. after the fact infractions?
No. There is no policy or procedure that explicitly addresses ‘on-the-spot’ infractions (e.g. cheating on an exam versus plagiarizing a paper).
Who, according to ISEP, is responsible for setting policies for how to deal with issues concerning academic integrity?
Departments are responsible for establishing policies and/or guidelines on how to deal with and sanction occurrences of cheating and plagiarism, “… regulating such matters as cheating and plagiarism in the context of the discipline…”, (ISEP, p. 9).Furthermore, program committees are responsible for establishing cheating and plagiarism policies with respect to the program Comprehensive Examination that are consistent with the policies of member departments (ISEP, p.10).
“Action in response to an incident of cheating and/or plagiarism, up to and including the failure of a student in the course, is within the authority of the teacher.” (ISEP, p. 24).In cases of cheating and plagiarism the Sector Dean makes a recommendation to the Academic Dean. In cases of professional conduct the program coordinator, with the support of at least 2/3 of the faculty of the main disciple of the program, makes a recommendation to the Sector Dean.We can imagine a case where a student is caught cheating on the multiple choice portion of an exam. Further, we can imagine that the teacher’s response was to give the student a zero for the multiple-choice section but to grade the essay section leaving the student 14/20 for the exam. When the information reaches to the Sector Dean, through the cheating report, we can imagine that this might be the third case of reported cheating and therefore the Sector Dean may recommend to the Academic Dean that the student be expelled.
ISEP states “Every instance of cheating or plagiarism leading to a resolution that impacts on a student’s grade must be reported, with explanation, in writing to the appropriate Sector Dean.” (ISEP p.24)Practice does not always conform to ISEP. This is problematic as the Sector Dean’s office does not have a record of the event and as the student’s access to an appeal may be compromised in that there is no formal accusation to appeal.
The components of such a policy are outlined in ISEP. (Section IV, Academic Conduct—Cheating and Plagiarism, p.24-26). However, for the purposes of operationalizing a systematic response to infractions of the norms of academic integrity, the lack of specificity, clarity, consistency and transparency in this section has led the College, based on its recently adopted Academic Integrity Policy, to undertake the development of more effective principles and procedures.
What recourse do students have if they believe they have been unfairly treated by the teacher who has accused them of cheating?
Students have recourse to the academic grievance procedure as outlined in ISEP (Appendix VII, p. 39).
Does ISEP state anything about what evidence is relevant if a student is accused of cheating or plagiarism?
The Academic Integrity Committee has tried to capture and express what the grounds for an accusation of cheating and plagiarism, either before or after the fact, amounts to. In the nature of the case for ‘on-the spot’ problems, such grounds are based on the teacher’s observation, either of a suspicious object, e.g. a cell phone, or suspicious behavior, e.g. looking at someone else’s paper. The teacher’s claims are presumed, prima facie to be acceptable, other things being equal. However, an appeal that is designed to offer due process to both students and teachers is being proposed by the AIC.
Although it is not possible to give an exhaustive, itemized list of activities that constitute cheating and plagiarism, ISEP already includes a list of exemplars (p. 25) which will almost certainly need to be expanded and refined in the future.
According to the Collective Agreement, only a teacher or a grade review committee can change a grade. (Collective Agreement 8-1.02)