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UIC TA Handbook - Handling Academic Misconduct

Handling Academic Misconduct

By Michael Kelly (edited Nov 2016)

Former Associate Dean
Office of the Dean of Student Affairs


The Student Disciplinary Policy (Fall 2011), available at, states that students must adhere to standards of conduct, as detailed in the policy. Regarding academic misconduct, it states that “Any violation of the, ‘Guidelines Regarding Academic Integrity’ which includes but is not limited to: giving or receiving unauthorized aid in any assignment or examination, plagiarism, tampering with grades, or other academic irregularities” may result in disciplinary sanctions.

Following are some examples (not exhaustive) of academic dishonesty:

  1. Cheating: Either intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, people, or study aids in any academic exercise;
  2. Fabrication: Knowing or unauthorized falsification, reproduction, lack of attribution, or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise;
  3. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism: Intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise;
  4. Bribes, Favors, Threats: Bribing or attempting to bribe, promising favors to or making threats against, any person, with the intention of affecting a record or grade or evaluation of academic performance;
  5. Examination by Proxy: Taking or attempting to take an exam for someone else;
  6. Grade Tampering: Any unauthorized attempt to change grades;
  7. Non-original Works: Submission or attempt to submit any written work authored, in whole or part, by someone other than the student.

These are the abridged definitions of the various types of academic dishonesty outlined in the Guidelines Regarding Academic Integrity.

Why does academic dishonesty occur?

Data gathered by the UIC Office of Student Judicial Affairs into the causes of student academic dishonesty point to a number of factors. Among these are:

  1. Poor time management skills;
  2. Fear of failure;
  3. A prevailing group norm among students that academic dishonesty is acceptable behavior;
  4. Peer pressure exhibited during group assignments;
  5. Test anxiety;
  6. A perceived low probability of being caught.

In addition, research conducted by Holliger and Lanza­ Kaduce (NASPA Journal, 33, 4, Summer 1996) found that 68.1% of their research cohort of undergraduates reported that they had been involved in some form of academic dishonesty at least once in the fifteen weeks prior to the commencement of the study. The authors point out that this finding is generally consistent with similar research done by others. In addition, McCabe and Cole (AAHE Bulletin, 1995, November) suggest that incidents of academic dishonesty among students may increase through the facilitation of faculty-authorized collaboration on assignments. They argue that, with the increased utilization of collaborative learning techniques, incidents of academic dishonesty (both intentional and unintentional) are likely to escalate.

They see academic dishonesty in this instance as an unanticipated and potentially detrimental by-product of these pedagogies; and recommend that faculty clearly outline what is, and what is not, acceptable behavior when students are permitted to work in groups. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs adjudicates approximately many academic dishonesty cases per academic year for a student body of 25,000, but from the statistic introduced earlier, it is presumed that many cases of academic dishonesty on the UIC campus may go either undetected or unreported.

Can Academic Dishonesty Be Prevented?

The UIC College of Nursing provides a good deal of guidance to its faculty about techniques of limiting academic dishonesty in the classroom. A handout distributed to faculty suggest the following strategies:

(Prior to the exam)

  1. Prepare and duplicate exams in a monitored environment;
  2. Individually number exams;
  3. Use new questions or revise existing questions;
  4. Prepare two forms of the exam;
  5. Select a room that is sufficiently large so that students may not sit next to one another;
  6. Line up a sufficient number of proctors to supervise the exam;
  7. Inform students in advance what they are permitted to bring into the examination room;

(On exam day)

  1. Set up the room ahead of time;
  2. Check IDs upon students entering the room;
  3. Do not hand out test booklets until all student are seated;
  4. Students should not be permitted to leave the examination room unaccompanied;
  5. Determine how you will handle students with wandering eyes ahead of time;
  6. Collect completed exams in an orderly fashion.

Certainly, this list is by no means comprehensive; however, it does provide many helpful hints. The Office of Student Judicial Affairs also recommends:

  1. Clearly describe your (or your faculty supervisor's) pol­ icy on academic dishonesty within the course syllabus;
  2. Describe it verbally during the class' first meeting;
  3. It is usually a good idea to reinforce this message prior to each exam by stating that academic dishonesty is unacceptable;
  4. Photo-copy all examinations prior to their return;
  5. If assignments are in the form of term papers, outline in advance how source material is to be cited, including the World Wide Web;
  6. Ask for two copies of all term papers; return one, keep one;
  7. Inform the students that measures are taken to detect academic dishonesty (but don't detail what they are);

If Academic Dishonesty Occurs, What Should I Do?

Despite your utilization of a prevention strategy you still may be faced with handling an incident of academic dis­ honesty. The specific approach to handling an incident of academic dishonesty will be based on your faculty supervisor's recommendations. Also, it is advisable that you consult with your supervisor about the general issue of "proper academic conduct of students" prior to the commencement of the course.

If you suspect academic dishonesty has occurred, here are a few helpful tips:

  1. If you have reason to believe that academic dishonesty may be taking place during an exam (heads bobbing back and forth, whispering, papers being passed) do what you can at that moment to limit the behavior; provide a verbal warning to the class that you suspect academic dishonesty may be taking place; and that if sufficient evidence is found, the matter will be dealt with promptly;
  2. If, in grading an exam or term paper, you detect what appears to be academic dishonesty, report your findings to your faculty supervisor; do not handle that matter your­ self unless your supervisor instructs you to do so;
  3. Keep the assignment(s) in question in a secure location; this material is crucial evidence;
  4. If your conclusions are based on direct verbal exchanges with a student (e.g.: instances of fraudulent requests for grade changes or for extra points) it is wise to write down a detailed chronology of your interactions with the individual as well as note how these events relate to your allegations of academic dishonesty.

The following is taken from the Dean of Students website,

Academic Misconduct

When a faculty member wishes to file a complaint of alleged academic dishonesty with the Office of the Dean of Students, there are generally two options available for adjudication:

Academic Liaison Process

For cases involving academic misconduct, the complainant may choose to submit the case to the Academic Liaison process. This process is structured where the student is called in to discuss the case, and they are presented with the complainant's suggested sanction. The student will then choose to accept or decline the sanction. If the student declines, the complainant can withdraw their complaint or resubmit the case to the formal conduct process for a possible hearing. If the student accepts, the matter is resolved without a hearing and all elements of the formal process (i.e. conduct record) still apply.

This option is only available for students who do not have a prior conduct record. Additionally, this process does not address cases where sanctions beyond probation are or may be warranted. Please contact our office for more information.

Formal Academic Process

The complainant may also elect to pursue the formal academic process, in which a Referral Committee will conduct a preliminary review of the incident report and all supporting documents. Neither the complainant nor the student are present for the review, but the student is given an opportunity to submit a written statement.

The Referral Committee will determine whether the evidence warrants forwarding the matter as a formal conduct case. If the matter is forwarded to a hearing, both the complainant and the student participate by presenting their case, and answering questions from, members of the hearing panel. Hearing panels are comprised of faculty, staff, and student representatives. Additionally, hearing panels are responsible for determining if the student is responsible for the charge(s) and when a student is found responsible, the panel will determine the appropriate sanctions.

Students found responsible for misconduct will have an opportunity to appeal. Once the appeals process has been exhausted, the outcome of the student conduct case becomes final.

To submit a complaint, please complete an Incident Report Form (available on the website above).

The Dean of Students office staff is available to conduct training sessions on the Procedure as well as on methods of preventing academic dishonesty. The staff also provides individual consultations for Teaching Assistants and faculty.

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