Promoting and Sustaining an Institutional Climate of Academic Integrity

Grading Policies
Educational Policies Committee

This Academic Senate paper is in response to two resolutions from Fall 2005 concerning academic dishonesty. One resolution, 14.02, "Student Cheating," sought clarification on a System Office legal position that limits the ability of local faculty to fail a student for a single incident of academic dishonesty, and pending the result of clarification, to seek an appropriate Title 5 change. Resolution 14.01, "Student Academic Dishonesty and Grading," required the Academic Senate to investigate faculty legal and professional rights and obligations with regards to dealing with academic dishonesty, including options for grading, disciplinary action, definitions of academic dishonesty, a statement of best practices, and an explanation of student rights.

The paper discusses the need for a culture of academic integrity that enriches the educational experience of students and faculty and, indeed, all individuals associated with the college as employees or community members. The paper recommends that colleges involve all constituent groups, particularly student leaders, in developing and promoting polices and procedures supportive of a climate of academic integrity. Students have key responsibilities and protections provided by Title 5 51023.7 and have the potential to raise awareness throughout an institution concerning academic integrity. The paper includes examples of policies and procedures that have been adopted at several colleges. Central to all discussions of academic integrity is the importance of due process and the protection of student rights.

Suggestions for promoting a climate of academic integrity are provided, along with examples of policies applied to such issues as test taking, technology, distance education, Internet use, group work, and maintaining the integrity of graded assignments. Emphasis is placed on the roles of classroom faculty, library services, counseling, and the need to institute mandates for information competency as a means of creating and sustaining a culture of academic integrity.

The paper goes on to discuss the System Office's 1995 legal interpretation of faculty rights with regards to failing a student for an incident of academic dishonesty. Included in this section is a brief discussion of potential changes to Title 5 and a consideration of student rights under the law. The paper also provides examples from colleges of policies and procedures that support academic integrity, recommendations to local senates, faculty, and the State Academic Senate, and concludes with references and appendices.


Recommendations to Local Senates

  • Involve all constituent groups, particularly student leaders, in developing and promoting polices and procedures (including due processes that are mindful of student rights) supportive of a climate of academic integrity.
  • Support local faculty rights regarding Education Code §76224(a), which provides that faculty have the final authority on grade determination, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency.
  • Support local student leaders and their organizations on campus by raising awareness of student rights as described in Title 5 §51023.7.
  • Agree that a climate of academic integrity must be treated as a renewable resource by having its tenets revisited by each successive generation of students.
  • Work to create a college-wide environment where academic honesty is the standard by establishing expectations for all members of the academic community, especially by supporting those who report and uphold academic integrity.
  • Develop definitions of academic dishonesty to help students understand which behaviors are unacceptable, and work with the student organizations to communicate to students about academic honesty.
  • Communicate to all faculty members that the current opinion by System Office legal council is that there may be limitations for when they can fail a student in a course for an incident of dishonesty.
  • Discuss processes and procedures for documenting academic dishonesty and tracking students who appear to demonstrate patterns of academic dishonesty.
  • Respect student confidentiality with regards to any allegations or history of academic dishonesty.
  • Provide for regular or ongoing professional development for all faculty on creating sound syllabi, recognizing academic dishonesty, maintaining faculty and student rights, and understanding the full range of allowable consequences and due process procedures associated with academic dishonesty.
  • Determine to ensure that workshops and professional development activities include as many part-time faculty as possible.
  • Review board policies to ensure that faculty are supported in their role to uphold academic integrity and create new policies where none may yet exist to specify the authority of the teacher in the classroom.
  • Advise faculty that Academic Senate/System Office discussions on the topic of academic integrity and possible Title 5 changes are ongoing at the time of this paper and that the Academic Senate should be monitored for updates as they occur.

Recommendations to Faculty

  • Integrate discussions about ethics and academic integrity within all courses.
  • Design assignments in such a manner that potential problems with using and sourcing information occur with minor, minimum risk assignments.
  • Avoid giving the same assignments and exams during successive terms.
  • Organize group work in such a manner that individual expectations are clearly defined
  • Monitor students consistently during exams, and when academic dishonesty appears to occur, be mindful that careful observations by a faculty member will be an important part of deliberations concerning an alleged infraction.
  • Establish grading criteria (including rubrics, holistic assessments, and portfolios) that state clear expectations and thereby minimize opportunities for academic dishonesty.
  • Set a baseline of student work for future comparisons by collecting samples early in the term.
  • Invite librarians, counselors, and others as guest lecturers on subjects related to academic integrity.
  • Include in syllabi a statement encouraging students to meet with you prior to dropping a course.
  • Include in syllabi a statement concerning academic integrity, including definitions and examples of what constitutes academic dishonesty.
  • Require that students run their papers through an online plagiarism site and provide documentation of having done so.
  • Schedule distance education students to attend in-person meetings, to take proctored examinations, and engage in frequent professor/student contact by phone, email, and in person to help mediate against occurrences of academic dishonesty.

Recommendations to the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges

  • Continue to review and revise Title 5 where applicable to academic dishonesty.
  • Persist in providing best practices and models of effective policies and procedures for both faculty and students.
  • Maintain efforts on behalf of a Title 5 change that mandates system-wide support for information competency.