Academic Integrity

Executive Committee Member

"Now, I must warn you that the most stringent Anti-Cheating Charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs, and Self-Correcting Ink. Every year, I am afraid to say, seems to harbor at least one student who thinks that he or she can get around the Wizarding Examinations Authority's rules. I can only hope that it is nobody in Gryffindor."

-Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

At every level, in every school or college, students and teachers are aware of the temptation to find the easiest, and often least integral way, to complete assignments and tasks. It should come as no surprise that the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) would address the issues regarding academic dishonesty by promoting a culture of the highest integrity where students and faculty alike are involved in creating and sustaining the best possible environment for learning.

In San Francisco in Spring 2007, the paper Promoting and Sustaining an Institutional Climate of Academic Integrity was unanimously adopted. 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 for 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 theme of the paper reiterates that the best way to reduce incidents of academic dishonesty is to be proactive-to develop a college atmosphere of integrity, responsibility, and understanding of why these honorable behaviors form the essence of scholarly inquiry and ethical decision making in the workplace.

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, is a well-established fact as demonstrated by colleges around the country.

The paper recommends that colleges involve all constituent groups, particularly student leaders, in developing and promoting policies 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. Faculty, students and System Office legal experts are grappling with the best way to maintain faculty authority for grades per Education Code section 76224(a).

"When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a community college district, the grade given to each student shall be the grade determined by the faculty member of the course and the determination of the student's grade by the instructor, in the absence of mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final," while protecting the due process rights of students. Drafts of possible Title 5 language should be available Fall 2007.

The paper also provides examples from colleges of policies and procedures that support academic integrity, recommendations to local senates, faculty, and the Academic Senate, and concludes with references and appendices. Because the clear recommendation in the paper is the creation of a climate and culture at each college of honesty and integrity in every classroom and office, the paper is a necessary read for faculty, student leaders, administrators, trustees and members of the community. Then, the first meetings of how to strengthen the academic integrity at a campus can begin in earnest.