Discussing Policy Violations

Discussing academic integrity policy violations

When a faculty member suspects a student has violated the academic integrity policy, they should meet. The goal of this meeting between a faculty member and a student whom he or she suspects of an academic integrity violation is for the faculty member to communicate high standards of academic integrity to the student, to hear the student’s perspective and to provide the student with information concerning the consequences of his or her actions.

With this in mind, the following considerations may help faculty members structure such a meeting.

  1. Evidence: Collect evidence that a student has violated the academic integrity policy, such as a test submitted for re-grading on which the answers have been changed or a paper with plagiarized passages. Consulting with colleagues before discussing a matter with the student can help a faculty member assess a possible academic integrity violation. Faculty should make sure to keep copies of any evidence.
  2. Questions: Ask the student to explain the apparent cheating. Context matters in handling incidents of academic dishonesty. A faculty member can learn more about what a student did and why by asking questions rather than making accusations.
  3. Communicate scholarship standards: The faculty member should explain to the student what the evidence leads him or her to suspect and how that is a violation of the academic integrity policy.
  4. Information: Before meeting with the student, the faculty member should have an idea of how he or she wants to respond to the incident. For example, he or she may have determined to give the student a zero on the assignment. However, the information elicited during the conversation with the student could change the faculty member’s response. After hearing the student’s perspective, the faculty member should inform the student of the consequences of the incident, such as an assignment grade of zero. If the faculty member changes a student’s grade due to an academic integrity policy violation, he or she must report the sanction to the college, inform the student of the report and notify the student of the right to appeal.
  5. Third party: Either the faculty member or the student may ask a representative of the department, such as the chair or the director of undergraduate studies, to be present when they discuss alleged academic dishonesty.

If the faculty member and student cannot meet in person, the faculty member should attempt to contact the student by email or phone and include a response deadline. If the student does not respond by the indicated deadline, the faculty member may impose and report a sanction.