In order for you to get a whole and comprehensive understanding of what defines and constitutes academic misconduct at school, you should reference Bloomsburg's code of conduct. In this paperback and internet accessible code, you will find information that will help you immensely when it comes to your school's processes.
According to Bloomsburg's academic integrity policy, academic integrity is defined as “the adherence to agreed upon moral and ethical principles when engaging in academic or scholarly pursuits.” At this institution, students are expected to exhibit honesty and respect in regard to their academic work, and the scholastic works of others. The policy proceeds to mention how a breach of this integrity - known as academic misconduct - jeopardizes the community of trust fostered by members of the university, and that this display of untrustworthiness and deceit will be met with corrective actions.
There are a multitude of ways in which a person can commit an act of academic misconduct. Bloomsburg's code of conduct divides the several forms of this behavior into categories. The institution defines and provides common examples of behavior that constitutes each form of academic misconduct.
- Cheating: this occurs when a student commits a deceitful act in efforts to obtain academic merit. Cheating consists of using notes, study aids, or information on an exam or any other assignment that is not approved by an instructor, altering graded work after it has been submitted, allowing another person to do your work and submitting it under your name, or collaborating on assignments without the permission of an instruct.
- Plagiarism: a student who submits material that in part of wholly is not one's work without attributing those same portions to their correct source is guilty of plagiarism.
- Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information, citation, or data and using this faulty information in an assignment. Falsification also entails citing sources that weren't used in an academic work.
- Impersonation: is defined as representing oneself as another student in academic settings or for the completion of an assignment. Representing another student during an examination, signing another student's name on the attendance roster, or doing work that is required of another student is considered impersonation.
- Misrepresenting circumstances: this action consists of lying, or presenting a professor (verbally or in writing) with false or incomplete information.
- Aiding and abetting academic dishonesty: merely being involved in academic misconduct and condoning the actions of another can constitute this charge. Allowing someone to copy off of your test, exam, or paper can lead to penalties.
- Falsification of records and official documents: this misconduct entails altering documents affecting academic records, forging signatures of authorization or falsifying information on an official academic document, grade report, letter of permission, petition, drop/add form, ID card, or any other official university document.
The first step in an academic misconduct case is the initial meeting. If a faculty member (typically an instructor) suspects that a student has committed any of the above actions, his or her first duty is to notify the student through a meeting. A meeting doesn't necessarily have to be in person, even though this method is preferred. Regardless of the method of notification, an instructor must share a few things: suspicions of the academic misconduct, the evidence that fuels this suspicion, and his or her intentions of taking steps to resolve the issue. After these matters have been shared, the student will be given a chance to provide an explanation.
After hearing the explanation, an instructor has the option of seeking resolution informally or formally. One of two Informal processes will begin at the discretion of an instructor if a student accepts the charges and the penalty for the misconduct. If a student decides to challenge these charges, or the instructor believes that a penalty far greater than a failing course is appropriate, the formal process will be initiated.
Option 1: Informal Confidential Resolution
In this phase of the process, an instructor opts to resolve the charge confidentially with the student. This is the least difficult and time-consuming process for both an instructor and student to undergo. The professor has a range of penalties within the boundaries of a course in which the dishonesty occurred. Possible sanctions include written and verbal reprimand, an appropriate additional assignment, and lowering the grade on an assignment on which the dishonesty occurred. If an instructor wishes to impose more severe sanctions, including lowering the course grade, he or she must file an document known as the “Academic Integrity Policy Violation Report Form.”
Option 2: Informal Resolution with a Filed Report
In this phase, the instructor may follow the guidelines given in the first option, along with filing an Academic Integrity Policy Violation Report Form. This report should include details like the offense, the recommended penalty, and acknowledgement from a student of the offense and penalty. The resolution reached by both an instructor and student will be void if the student has any previous offenses. A subsequent offense requires resolution by the Academic Grievance Board.
Option 3: Formal Resolution by the Academic Grievance Board
If a student reaches this phase, it is assumed that a student has not accepted the charges and/or the penalty, or has had a previous offense. Formal resolution of the academic grievance board entails a hearing where both a student and an instructor get to provide their side of the story and a witness presentation. Once the board has heard both sides of the story, they will deliberate and come up with a finding determining whether the alleged violation occurred.
If the finding is unfavorable, a student is fortunately afforded the right to appeal. An appeal is essentially a request for the school to reconsider a decision that has been previously made. It's important to note that an appeal will not be granted based on mere dissatisfaction with a hearing outcome, it must be based on reasonable grounds. A student has a week from the final determination to appeal.
Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney
Many students wait until they receive a favorable outcome to retain a student defense attorney. Although this is a wise move, it's more useful to retain one right from the start. An attorney can help you avoid pitfalls and setbacks throughout your school's processes that put your academic and professional goals in jeopardy.