Academic Integrity Committee

March 9, 2007


Present were David Dial, Hernando Jimenez, Robert Kirkman (Secretary), Ericka McGarity, Thomas Michaels, Tom Morley (Chair), Stephen Thompson and Tiffany Watson.


1. What’s This Committee For?


Chair noted that this is the first time the committee has had quorum in over a year.  Raised the question: Have we lacked quorum because of a perception that we have nothing to do?


This led to discussion of a bigger question: What are the most important things this committee can do?  This is a question for the Chair, for committee, for OSI personnel.


Kirkman volunteered to look for the original charge of the Committee from the Faculty Senate – probably buried in the minutes. 


McGarity reported that OSI needs at least two things from the committee: help in educating faculty, and consultation on important changes in OSI.  For example, there are extensive changes underway in light of the new Code of Conduct.


Questions, looking ahead.  Do we adopt the education model?  Should we still have a say in the sanction process, etc.? 


2. Revisions to Sanctioning Model


As if in answer to the question, McGarity noted a pressing need to revisit the sanctioning model, given the changes to the Code of Conduct. 


OSI is also developing new scripts for honor hearings, for the sake of consistency, due process.  There was some discussion of how these should be written, and of the role of faculty in writing them.


Regarding the sanctioning model, the latest version came out of this committee in 2005.  It was much the same as earlier models, except that it distinguished more clearly among the three parts of any sanction (disciplinary standing, learning experience, academic impact), and it included the 100-2x formula for the academic impact. 


Those involved in the honor process have struggled with this equation – sometiems it seems too harsh, sometimes too lax; in any case, it is sometimes hard to fill in the formula given a lack of information about how a given instructor grades a given course.


What the Honor Committee seems to want is more flexibility. 


Other current circumstances require revision to the sanctioning model.  The new Code of Conduct no longer includes the “reprimand” disciplinary standard; the term should simply be deleted from the model.  The integrity seminar is currenlty being reinstated, so students are currently assigned to write a paper.


Regarding the academic impact, discussion led to the following consensus:

·        whatever formula is adopted, it should not be published so that students can read it; otherwise they might try to game the system, use it as a basis for appeals.  It should be made known to faculty who report students, however.

·        there should be a sliding scale, since the factor of 2 does not work in all cases; for much larger assignments, the factor should be smaller; for smaller assignments, it should be larger.  Jimenez volunteered to draft a matrix for later consideration.

·        Whatever the scale, there should be a minimum amount of grade impact: 10% or a letter grade, whichever is larger.  


A further aspect of the 2005 model that was left murky: What is the work in question?  One question on a test, as opposed to the whole test.  Establishing a minimum penalty helps to address this, but what counts as a proportionate penalty seems also to be a matter of intention on the student's part.  (Analogy: armed robbery is armed robbery, regardless of whether the robber asks for a quarter or for a thousand dollars.)


A side-note from McGarity regarding the honor process in general: OSI will be notifying students up front that they may not withdraw from a class in which they have been accused of academic dishonesty.  It is technically possible for them to do so, but they need to know that the Registrar’s system will automatically change their W to an F if they are found responsible for academic misconduct.


Some additional recommendations for the sanctioning model:

·        it should be added in writing that a second offense generally results in suspension.

·        there should be standards for addressing and sanctioning academic-related offenses outside the context of courses, e.g., co-ops, competitions, RA work.

·        the aggravating circumstances list from the 2005 model should be kept.