Academic Integrity at Baruch College: Summary for Faculty
This page last updated on: July 13, 2020
More than 50% of college students in the U.S. report that they have recently committed acts that we as faculty would label as “cheating” or “plagiarism.” The best way to prevent academic dishonesty is through clear communication and dialogue: faculty members should define in writing and through discussion what we mean by academic dishonesty and explain why it is antithetical to learning and unacceptable in our classrooms. (Potential sanctions should be on the syllabus.) Such messages should be reinforced throughout the semester and throughout the college community.
Syllabus and Discussion best practices
The academic integrity committee urges members of the faculty to include a syllabus item that underscores the importance of academic honesty, outlines the penalties for dishonesty, and makes clear that acts of dishonesty will be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students.
- At this link you can peruse some sample syllabus items.
- See below for more on the reporting process.
Discussing the syllabus item early in the semester (with later reminders) provides important reinforcement. Although ignorance of our rules is not a legitimate excuse, many college students are indeed ignorant of the norms of college classrooms, which, in many cases diverge from those of high schools. Baruch College is one of the most culturally diverse campuses in the nation, with students from more than 100 countries. Moreover, faculty preferences about collaboration on some types of assignments, for example, runs the gamut from forbidden to encouraged: make sure your students know the rules in your classroom. Clear definitions of cheating and plagiarism (contained in the college’s Academic Honesty statement) can be very helpful, as can explanation of the seriousness of academic integrity and the consequences of violating it.
- You might like to refer your students to the Student Guide to Academic Integrity, written by Baruch students.
- Baruch’s online plagiarism tutorial provides explanations, exercises, and examples. A self-test associated with the tutorial is available via Blackboard. To import the self-test into your class Blackboard site, contact Prof. Aisha Peña (Library) at 646-312-1611 or Aisha.Peña@baruch.cuny.edu
- Plagiarism can occur intentionally or unintentionally. Unintentional plagiarism, called “patchwriting” in a national study of plagiarism conducted by Prof. Rebecca Moore Howard of Syracuse University, is an opportunity to teach students about ethically incorporating the ideas of others into their own work. A good, free, online resource to help students understand plagiarism and incorporating sources is the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University.
Baruch College Policies
Our policies and step-by-step procedures are articulated in the Faculty Guide to Student Academic Integrity. (You might also like to refer to CUNY’s Academic Integrity Policy, as revised July 2011.) Baruch’s two key principles are that faculty members are responsible for grades and that all cases should be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students:
1. Faculty members are responsible for grades.
- The instructor brings the alleged act of academic dishonesty to the attention of the student as soon as possible.
- If the student admits to the act of academic dishonesty, the instructor is entitled to give him/her the academic sanction described in the syllabus, including an F for the assignment/exam or for the course itself. Potential penalties must be stated on the syllabus and reiterated in class. We recommend a range of potential sanctions, including an F for the course.
- If the student disputes the accusation, she or he is entitled to due process. The final grade should be PEN (i.e., pending), with the word “purposeful” in the Comments column. Please note that use of the PEN grade is limited to academic integrity cases.
- The case must be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students, using the Faculty Report Form: online version.
- Note: if the accusation comes during the semester (versus at the end of the semester), the instructor also must refer the case to the Office of the Dean of Students.
- While students often dispute accusations initially, they usually confess within a few weeks—these issues tend to be resolved quickly. Students are entitled to due process, but cases very rarely move as far as a hearing—only a small handful cases (of hundreds) per year.
- In light of CUNY policies that permit students to retake and expunge from their GPA several courses they have failed, some members of the faculty prefer to award a grade of D, assuming it is included as a possibility on the syllabus.
- All cases should be reported.
- The purpose of reporting is not punitive, although in some cases punishment, including suspension or expulsion, may follow. The purpose is educational, and it seems to work: very few students have been reported more than once. Obviously, reporting is key to the process, so that a student cannot falsely claim never to have cheated or plagiarized before.
- Accusations and resolutions should be reported as soon as possible to the Office of the Dean of Students using the Faculty Report Form: online version.
Discouraging cheating during exams (also see Exam Proctoring webpage)
- Announce policies and procedures in classes before the exam and reiterate them at the exam.
- Proctor carefully and make sure any assistants know the rules and procedures.
- Forbid use of any electronic devices, including cell phones.
- Ask students to use the restrooms before the exam begins.
- Seat students apart (when possible).
- Issue multiple versions of exams. The exams can have the same questions in different order, or, if multiple choice, with only the choices scrambled. Consider using different colored paper for the different versions, allowing you to see if students next to each other have the same exam. (Alternatively, exams of the same color make it impossible for students to know who else has the version they have.)
- Do not recycle exams from class to class, semester to semester, year to year. (Some student groups maintain files.).
- If you use blue books, hand out only as many as needed and be sure to collect extras. (Students have been known to take extras home and write in them as preparation for other exams.)
- If you use blue books, mark your them inconspicuously (perhaps numbered on the back) so that a student will not be graded on work in a blue book he or she brought to the exam.
Discouraging plagiarism (also see Plagiarism webpage)
- Define plagiarism clearly and clearly convey that you will not tolerate it. Some definitions are available on Baruch’s Academic Honesty web page.
- Plagiarism can occur intentionally or unintentionally. Unintentional plagiarism, called “patchwriting” in a national study of plagiarism conducted by Prof. Rebecca Moore Howard of Syracuse University, provides an opportunity to teach students about ethically incorporating the ideas of others into their own work. A good, free, online resource to help students understand plagiarism and incorporating sources is the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University.
- As mentioned above, Baruch’s online plagiarism tutorial provides explanations, exercises, and examples.
- Create writing assignments that require students to synthesize materials from different sources (compare/contrast) or to use materials discussed/provided in class.
- When students have handed in written work such as a substantial paper, ask them to write a summary in class of its main points and how they made them.
- Baruch College subscribes to Turnitin.com, an online database that vets papers for plagiarism. To learn how to gain access to this service and for suggestions about how to use it, contact Kevin Wolff or ask for him at the Baruch Help Desk: 646-312-1010.
The College’s Academic Integrity homepage provides a good deal of additional information, including links to other sites of possible interest:
CUNY’s Academic Integrity Policy, revised Fall 2011: PDF File
This summary was prepared by Associate Provost Dennis Slavin, with the assistance of members of the college’s academic integrity committee. Please feel free to suggest changes for the next version.