Pennsylvania State (Penn State) University offers distance education programs through its World Campus. For more than 125 years, the World Campus has been “giving learners the ability to earn their Penn State degree entirely online.”
Penn State has always been associated with uncompromising academic integrity. If you have been accused of academic dishonesty as a student at Penn State's World Campus, you should take the allegations seriously.
Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm will serve as your attorney-advisors. They will guide you through your upcoming case, seeking the best possible outcome for you.
How Penn State Delegates Issues of Academic Integrity
Penn State’s World Campus blog refers readers to Penn State's policy on academic integrity. In 2000, the University passed new academic integrity guidelines which:
- Allow individual campuses and departments to interpret the University's Academic Integrity Procedures as they see fit
- Allow individual campuses to independently determine ranges of sanctions for academic dishonesty
Penn State's overarching academic integrity guidelines reflect the belief that “academic integrity is best taught and reinforced by faculty as an element of the teaching and learning process.”
How Penn State Categorizes Academic Dishonesty
Penn State's Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual breaks down academic dishonesty into three tiers:
- Minor offenses
- Moderate offenses
- Major offenses
The category which your alleged offense falls into may determine your potential sanctions.
Specific Offenses that Violate Penn State's Academic Guidelines
Literature from one Penn State campus lists several academic offenses that may lead to sanctions, including:
Copying Another Person's Work
A fairly self-explanatory offense, the severity of sanctions for copying may depend on the importance of the assignment. Copying work for a grade-defining assignment may engender harsher sanctions than copying a minor homework assignment.
Submitting Someone Else's Work as Your Own
The severity of sanctions for this offense may also depend on the importance of the assignment. Faculty may also consider how large a portion of an assignment was composed of other parties' work as they craft sanctions against the offender.
Possessing, Purchasing, or Supplying Test Materials
The recycled exam is a time-tested tradition of university academics. Unfortunately for those caught possessing, purchasing, or supplying an exam (or other course materials), the act is against Penn State – World Campus rules.
Penn State literature states that “The manner in which the exam was obtained is critical in determining appropriate action.”
Penn State considers “ghosting” to be when “a student takes a quiz or exam, or completes an exercise or assignment on behalf of another student.”
The severity of sanctions for ghosting depends on the nature of the act and how significantly the act benefits the offender's grade.
Other Infractions Condemned by Penn State – World Campus
In addition to the above-listed offenses, you may face sanctions if you are accused of:
- Using unauthorized study aids during an examination
- Collaborating with other students when doing so is prohibited
- Submitting the same work in more than one course
- Allowing another student to copy your work
- Altering your grades
Some acts of academic dishonesty may be common to online courses. Per The Washington Post, universities have seen increased instances of dishonesty in online coursework. This generally stems from a lack of direct supervision of students by professors.
Any alleged violation of Penn State's academic standards may set the following process into motion.
How Penn State University – World Campus Handles Allegations of Academic Dishonesty
Section G-9 of the Penn State Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual outlines the school's procedures “when academic misconduct is suspected.”
You can expect that, if you are accused of academic dishonesty, then:
- The suspecting faculty member will inform you of the allegation and submit proposed sanctions via an Academic Integrity Form
- The faculty member will review the form with you and give you time to:
- Decide to sign the form, accepting culpability and sanctions
- Contest the allegations and/or sanctions
Your advisor is not permitted to attend your hearing, per Penn State’s University College Policies on Academic Integrity. However, your advisor will prepare you for your Academic Integrity hearing so that you can defend yourself against pending allegations.
The Committee's decision for your case is generally final. Neither Penn State's Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual nor World Campus-specific literature mentions an appeals process.
One campus' literature states that “You can appeal the sanction only when the academic sanction assigned is a dismissal from your academic program.” Joseph D. Lento will investigate your options for an appeal if necessary.
It is crucial that you defend yourself thoroughly before the Academic Integrity Committee makes a decision. Joseph D. Lento will prepare you for your hearing.
Potential Sanctions for an Academic Dishonesty Claim
If Penn State's World Campus Academic Integrity Committee deems you responsible for an academic integrity violation, then you may:
- Be expelled from the Penn State network
- Be expelled from a specific academic program
- Be suspended indefinitely
- Be suspended for a defined period of time
- Fail the course
- Receive an “XF” transcript notation, which “indicates on the student's transcript that failure in a course was due to a serious act of academic dishonesty and misconduct.”
- Be placed on disciplinary probation
- Receive a formal disciplinary warning
Penn State may generally levy a suspension for any academic violation it considers “serious”. Expulsion is a possibility that you must also take seriously.
Academic sanctions are not the sum of your consequences. When Penn State designates you as academically dishonest, it may:
- Compromise your acceptance to graduate programs
- Diminish your appeal to future employers
- Negate any accolades and progress you have achieved while studying at Penn State – World Campus
If you are facing an allegation of academic dishonesty, then you are at a critical juncture in your life. Joseph D. Lento will work to protect your reputation in the face of serious accusations against you.
Hiring an Academic Integrity Advisor
Hiring attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento will allow you to focus on your day-to-day responsibilities. He will study the nuances of your case and prepare you for your hearing with Penn State's Academic Integrity Committee.
The Lento Law Firm will make the accusations against you, and the accompanying process, less daunting. Contact us today at 888-535-3686 to arrange representation or simply ask questions about your case.