Faculty Instructions for Handling Cases of Academic Dishonesty
Instructor Guide on Academic Integrity
University Policies and Procedures on Academic Integrity
Penn State University policies and procedures on academic integrity are primarily established by faculty through the University Faculty Senate (UFS). In some cases, policies and procedures related to graduate education are developed by graduate faculty through the Penn State Graduate School and Graduate Council.
UFS Policy 49-20 Academic Integrity is the primary policy related to academic integrity at Penn State. The policy defines academic integrity and sets expectations for students, faculty, administrators and colleges to act in accordance with its key principle, “…the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner.”
ACUE Policy and Procedure G-9 Academic Integrity establishes detailed policies and procedures for students, faculty, administrators and colleges regarding the steps to take when a violation of academic integrity is suspected.
Each college at Penn State is expected to develop its own policies and procedures on academic integrity, consistent with University policy. On this website, the College of Health and Human Development provides information on our HHD academic integrity policies and procedures, guidance for students, and guidance for faculty.
Students and instructors who are involved in a suspected violation of academic integrity are strongly encouraged to review the UFS, ACUE and HHD information linked above. Any questions regarding academic integrity policies and procedures can be directed to the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator listed below.
Violations of academic integrity encompass a wide range of activities, including, but not limited to unauthorized assistance, misrepresentation, fabrication, unauthorized reuse of academic work, and misuse of instructional content.
Given the high ethical standards and expectations for integrity in the fields where our alumni work, the College of Health and Human Development does not tolerate violations of academic integrity policy and supports appropriate sanctions consistent with University policies and procedures.
HHD expects students to act with integrity in all their academic efforts.
HHD expects instructors to provide an academic environment that regularly communicates high standards of integrity, to take reasonable steps to anticipate and deter violations of academic integrity in all assignments, to report all violations of academic integrity in their classes and to provide students in each course they teach with a statement clarifying the application of University and College academic integrity policies.
Information for Instructors Regarding Academic Integrity
- Contact the College of Health and Human Development academic integrity coordinator, Dennis Shea (firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-863-2901), at any time if you have questions or concerns, or if you would like guidance or information throughout the academic integrity process.
- Inform yourself fully about the relevant academic integrity policies and procedures.
- Instructors in the College of Health and Human Development are expected to report all violations of academic integrity to maintain high ethical standards and enable HHD to prevent students from violating academic integrity multiple times with no consequences.
- You must treat students fairly in all situations when you believe an academic integrity violation occurred. You are expected to meet with students, clearly inform students of the problem, provide documentation on the violation you believe has occurred and allow students the opportunity to share their perspectives.
- All persons involved with an academic integrity situation are expected to treat the information with confidentiality in mind. Academic integrity information should not be discussed with any person not involved in the case and no person other than the instructor, student, academic department/program leaders, and members of the HHD Academic Standards Committee involved with the case should have access to information or discuss the events.
- Instructors should state expectations for academic integrity as part of the grading policy for every course and clarify how it applies on assignments. Faculty Senate policy requires instructors to include a statement on academic integrity on the syllabus. Penn State policy expects faculty to provide clear information of what actions represent a violation and an environment that supports academic integrity, such as sufficient proctoring for exams, use of plagiarism checking tools, etc. Some areas where faculty should carefully detail expectations might include:
- Expectations regarding proper citation, use of writing aids (e.g., ChatGPT), etc.
- Expectations regarding collaboration or group work on homework or papers
- Expectations regarding take-home or online or open-book/open-note exams
- If you believe that an academic integrity violation may have occurred, please take the following steps:
- Consult with department/program leaders and/or the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator
- Communicate with the student as soon as possible and indicate that an important discussion about their academic performance is needed. Do not share any information about academic integrity at this point to make sure that you do not violate confidentiality.
- If you have multiple students that you believe are involved in a possible violation, you should communicate and meet with them separately. This both allows the instructor to get independent information and protects their confidentiality.
- If the violation involves group work submitted for evaluation by 2 or more students, then all students in the group are responsible for a violation, unless the instructor determines otherwise. Through assignment procedures or the academic integrity meetings, an instructor may choose to determine that an individual student or subset of students are responsible for the violation, but the instructor is not required to do so. After meeting with group members, an instructor may choose to file academic integrity violation forms for all group members.
- Hold a meeting with the student to discuss the situation. An in-person or Zoom/Teams meeting is preferable. If the meeting is held by Zoom/Teams, make sure that both you and the student are in a location that protects confidentiality. If you choose, you may have a department/program leader with you at the meeting with the student. Present the student with a copy of the information you have that suggests an academic integrity violation has occurred and explain your perspective. Allow the student an opportunity to respond with their perspective. You can continue to discuss the situation in multiple meetings with the student and department/program/college leaders, as needed.
- If you are unable to arrange an in-person or Zoom/Teams meeting with the student, you may try to set up a phone meeting. If you have to discuss the situation by phone, send information you intend to discuss with the student prior to the phone call. Make sure that you and the student are in a location that protects confidentiality.
- If a student does not respond to repeated attempts to discuss the situation, you may file an academic integrity violation form through the online academic integrity system and indicate that the student did not respond to your attempts to discuss your concerns.
- If you determine that an academic integrity violation has not occurred after meeting with the student (perhaps this was a misunderstanding or simply a case of poor academic performance), the academic integrity process is concluded and you should destroy any information related to the events.
- If you believe a violation of academic integrity has occurred, after meeting with the student, please take the following actions:
- Inform the student that you intend to file an academic integrity violation form
- Advise the student to read the University and HHD academic integrity policies, encourage them to discuss the policies with the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator, and let them know of their rights regarding academic integrity
- Inform the student that they cannot drop the class and that they should continue to attend the class and complete work in the course. Until the situation is resolved and the student and instructor are notified by the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator, both instructor and student should continue to participate in the course fully
- Encourage the student to look for an email regarding the academic integrity violation in their Penn State email and explain that this will include the documentation on the violation you believe has occurred and the sanction you propose as appropriate
- Consult with department/program leaders and/or the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator to determine the appropriate sanction. The Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations may assist you. Faculty can propose two types of sanctions, academic and University-level administrative sanctions.
- University-level administrative sanctions should only be recommended by an instructor when integrity violations are extreme or egregious. Normally, it is preferable to propose only academic sanctions, relying on the assignment of grades and course or program-related sanctions to support the learning process, rather than requesting additional University-level administrative sanctions.
- Academic sanctions include a wide range of actions that would result in the modification of grades for assignments or a course. Instructors have discretion to determine the appropriate academic sanction, given the sanctioning guidelines, and taking into consideration the student's intent, familiarity with academic integrity expectations, details of the alleged violation (e.g., was it just an improper citation or an entire paper that was plagiarized; were there multiple violations on 2 or more assignments), the value of the affected assignment/assessment on the course grade, the impact of the violation on others (e.g. did the student steal another student’s work), and how long the student has been a Penn State/college student
- Organize the full set of documentation to be submitted regarding the violation. This should include:
- A copy of the course syllabus (including any guidance on academic integrity policies in the course)
- A clean copy of the assignment/exam/paper that is involved in the violation (including any specific guidance on academic integrity policies for the assignment/exam/paper)
- A copy of the assignment/exam/paper that the student submitted with the material that indicates a violation clearly highlighted or otherwise described.
- A brief summary describing the violation from the instructor
- Any additional supporting documentation (e.g., statements by a TA who observed the student’s actions, a “cheat sheet” used by the student)
- If you will be providing documentation from other persons or if other persons will be providing information at a full hearing in-person, communicate this information to the Academic Integrity Coordinator, who makes the final decision on documentation and procedures in Academic Integrity Reviews.
- If multiple students are involved, a separate form should be filed for each student. Documentation should be prepared in a way that protects student confidentiality (e.g., refer to students as “Student A”, “Student B” in documentation). Instructors may provide a key to the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator who can also assist with preparing the documentation.
- With documentation prepared and a proposed sanction determined, the instructor should use the University’s online academic integrity system to formally report the suspected violation. When submitted, both the student and the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator will be notified that an academic integrity violation form has been filed.
- Check your email regularly to see if the student has decided to accept or contest the charge and sanction. If the student accepts the charge and sanction, and the student has no prior academic integrity violations, and you have not proposed University-level administrative sanctions, the case will be concluded. The HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator will finalize the case and you will be instructed to apply the sanction you have proposed.
- If the student contests, the online system will give you an opportunity to respond to any documentation or information that the student submits regarding the form you have submitted.
- If the student has contested the form submitted, the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator will move forward with an Academic Integrity Review and will communicate with you and the student about the next steps. You can read more about HHD Academic Integrity Reviews at the HHD Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure page.
- In the event that a case is not resolved by the end of the semester in which the charges were filed, the instructor should record an “NG” (no grade) grade for the final grade for the course. Similarly, do not record a grade for the particular assignment in which an academic integrity case is pending. The assignment and course grade can be changed when the final decisions are made.
What Not To Do When Addressing Academic Integrity
Do not handle the situation on your own by assigning a lower grade or simply failing the student. The student has rights that must be respected. The College and University also value academic integrity and a fair process for addressing possible violations. Engaging the formal academic integrity policy conveys the seriousness of the situation, respects student rights, provides a fair process, and reduces the incidence of repeat infractions.
Do not take any action or treat the student in any way that can be considered prejudicial or punitive at any point in the process. Do not threaten the student (e.g., “if you don’t sign the form the sanctions will be worse”).
Do not communicate information that violates Penn State or HHD policies (e.g., “All academic integrity violations will result in an F grade for the course.”)
Do not advise the student to drop the course; doing so violates University policy. The student should continue in the course until resolution.
Do not impose an academic sanction until you are instructed to take action by the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator.
Do not discuss the case with anyone except department/program leaders or the HHD Academic Integrity Coordinator. All information regarding academic integrity violations should be kept strictly confidential and not shared with others.
If at any time during a case you are not sure what to do, contact the college academic integrity coordinator.
- Dennis Shea
- Academic Integrity Coordinator
- College of Health and Human Development
- 345 Health and Human Development Building
- Heather Zimmerman
- Academic Integrity Staff Assistant
College of Health and Human Development
337 Health and Human Development Building