College Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures
- Statement of Policy
The University’s ability to achieve its mission depends upon the quality and integrity of the intellectual work performed by all of its faculty and students. All members of the University at all times must take full responsibility for the integrity and basic honesty of the expression and communication of their thoughts.
Accordingly, individual faculty and students are never permitted to take credit for or represent as their own work anything that in fact is the work of other persons, whether classmates, published authors, or anonymous contributors on the Internet. Academic dishonesty encompasses a wide range of activities, whether intentional or unintentional, that include, but are not limited to: all forms of fraud, plagiarism, and any failure to cite explicitly all materials and sources used in one’s work. Similarly, faculty and students are never permitted to pursue work by any means that unfairly disadvantages others. This prohibits activities that include, but are not limited to cheating, lying, and deception, and directly harming the work of others.
The College of Health and Human Development vigorously seeks to achieve compliance with its policy on academic integrity. The college does not tolerate violations of that policy, and, toward that end, the college supports appropriate sanctions consistent with University guidelines and with state and federal law. For students, these sanctions include, but are not limited to, lower grade in a course, failure in a course, removal from the degree program, or failure in a course with an explanation in the permanent transcript of the cause for failure, suspension, or expulsion.
The college’s Academic Integrity Committee will review and settle all contested cases of academic integrity infractions in which academic sanctions are applied, and will be the final level of review for charges of academic dishonesty. The University's Office of Student Conduct is the final level of review for more serious violations requiring disciplinary sanctions.
- Committee Membership
The college's Academic Integrity Committee consists of two faculty members, one of whom will serve as chair, one undergraduate student and one graduate student. The college’s academic integrity coordinator assists the committee and serves as its liaison to the Office of Student Conduct.
- The Charge and Sanction
In all cases, the charge and recommendation for sanction(s) originate with the instructor. Before proposing a sanction the instructor should read the University's Sanctioning Guidelines (.pdf file) and contact the college coordinator with any questions. The instructor may withdraw the charge(s) of academic dishonesty any time prior to the committee’s decision. Sanctions can take the form of academic and disciplinary sanctions or only academic sanctions.
If the Academic Integrity Committee determines that disciplinary sanctions are warranted, the student is notified by the college that he/she has been found responsible for the charge, and that the academic sanction will be put into place. In addition, the student's case will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for consideration of a specific disciplinary sanction. The Office of Student Conduct will review the committee's recommendation, as well as precedent guidelines, in determining the appropriate disciplinary sanction to assign. In the case of a recommendation of an academic sanction only, the committee reviews the case only when the student contests the charge(s) or has a prior offense on record.
When an instructor suspects academic dishonesty, s/he will notify the student of the specific alleged infraction(s) (place, time, and manner) as soon as practicable. The instructor should discuss the situation with the student, inform the student of the academic and/or disciplinary sanction(s) (ranging from a warning to removal from the program), give the student an opportunity to respond, and, if the instructor still wishes to proceed with the charge(s), present the student with an Academic Integrity Form.
After receiving the form the student will have five days to respond. The student may choose to accept the charge(s) and/or assigned sanction(s), or contest the charge(s) and request that the committee review the case. Both student and instructor will sign the Academic Integrity Form and forward it to the college’s academic integrity coordinator. The student’s failure to respond or refusal to sign and return the form will be interpreted as acceptance of the charge(s) and sanction(s).
Students in the Schreyer Honors College should be advised to consult the college’s guidelines concerning academic integrity violations. The honors college may impose additional sanctions on their students. The honor college’s policies concerning academic integrity can be found at: www.shc.psu.edu/students/advising/ai. Please refer to Section E for additional clarification.
If the student does not contest the charge(s) and has no prior violations on record with the Office of Student Conduct, no review will be initiated; the academic sanction will be applied, and the case will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. If the student does not contest the charges, but has a prior violation on record with the Office of Student Conduct, the Academic Integrity Committee will review the case to see if further sanctions are warranted. If the student contests the charge(s), the coordinator will forward copies of the signed form and documentation to the instructor, the student, and the college’s Academic Integrity Committee members.
In the event that the student cannot be reached (or if the course is administered online and the instructor is unable to deliver the form to the student), the coordinator will send a registered letter and an Academic Integrity Form to the student’s permanent home address. The letter will state the specific charge(s), the sanction(s), and the date (deadline) for the student’s reply.
- Dropping or Withdrawal from a Course
The student cannot drop the course involved. If the student drops the course or withdraws from the course during the academic integrity process, the Registrar will reinstate the course and its sanction.
- The Review/Hearing
The minimum number of committee members to review a case is three, two of whom must be faculty. In the case of a split decision, the committee will consult with the associate dean for undergraduate programs or the dean to render a final decision.
The committee will normally conduct a review of the paper records. A hearing will be scheduled when there may be a significant educational loss resulting from the sanction (i.e., removal from the degree program, delayed graduation, loss of good standing with the University). If a committee member is the instructor presenting the charge, s/he will not serve on the review/hearing committee. A student may also request a hearing which will be scheduled at the discretion of the committee.
The review or hearing will occur as soon as practicable, but no sooner than ten business days after mailing the documents to the student and no later than five weeks after submission of the signed integrity form. Both the instructor and the student will forward to the coordinator all relevant documentation and evidence to be used in the review.
The coordinator contacts the Office of Student Conduct to determine whether any other violations have been recorded that might affect the committee’s decision regarding the academic sanction and/or a recommendation for a disciplinary sanction. The coordinator does not present the committee with this information until after they have decided if the student is responsible for the current charge.
The coordinator will distribute copies of the full documentation to the instructor, the student, and members of the committee. All parties should receive the documentation no later than two business days prior to the hearing or paper review.
The committee chair directs the review or hearing, rules on procedures, and ensures that questioning is fair, evidence is relevant, standards are enforced, and confidentiality is maintained. The committee chair will maintain order and reasonable time limits.
The student and the faculty member may attend all meetings of the hearing except for the meeting at which the committee renders its decision.
At a hearing, the student will be allowed to present relevant evidence. The instructor will articulate his/her accusations and the rationale(s) for the assigned sanction. The committee may question both parties and witnesses. Both the student and faculty member may question witnesses and comment on the evidence. To assure confidentiality, any and all witnesses will be present at the hearing only during the time they are questioned.
Following the hearing, the committee will examine all evidence/testimony and decide by majority vote whether the student is in violation of the University’s policy. The standard of proof employed is “clear and convincing evidence” to the committee. The instructor bears the burden of proof. The chair will prepare a brief summary of the committee’s decision accompanied by the documentation. The college coordinator will send the report to the student, the instructor, and the Office of Student Conduct in a timely manner.
- Student Rights
The student has the right to:
- attend a hearing, if the committee requests one
- present evidence
- be accompanied by one adviser, either faculty or staff, of the University or a currently enrolled student
- have adequate time to prepare for a hearing
- question witnesses and evidence at a hearing
- withdraw the appeal at any time prior to the college committee’s decision
Neither family members nor legal counsel (unless part of the University community) may attend the hearing.
- The XF Sanction
An "XF" grade is a formal University disciplinary sanction. XF sanctions are awarded only with the concurrence of the instructor, the college’s Academic Integrity Committee, and the Office of Student Conduct. Reliance on the XF should be a rare occurrence and reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity.
In any instance in which the instructor believes an XF sanction is warranted (whether or not the student has admitted responsibility) the case is forwarded to the college’s Academic Integrity Committee for review and, if the committee agrees that an XF is warranted, to the Office of Student Conduct for further review. An XF sanction may be expunged from the student’s record at the time of graduation in accordance with University policy and the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Reporting and Record Keeping
The coordinator will report to the Office of Student Conduct cases in which the student accepted responsibility for the charge(s) and cases in which the student has not signed the Academic Integrity Form as well as cases in which the student was found to be responsible through the review/hearing process. Copies of evidence and documentation will be collected and deposited in the college coordinator’s office to ensure confidentiality. Following final disposition of a case, the committee will retain only general data at the college level to help assess timeliness, consistency, rate of offenses, etc.