How to Formally Report Academic Misconduct
Below are the steps, according to Langara’s Academic Integrity Policy, for faculty to submit reports of academic misconduct. Once instructors have completed the steps below, they can submit their report of academic misconduct through the online report form.
If faculty or instructional staff have any questions or would like some advice in regards to items detailed on this website, please be sure to reach out to the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review your facts and any information you have to suggest that academic misconduct occurred. If you have reasonable grounds to believe an infraction occurred, proceed to the next step.
What are “reasonable grounds?’
An instructor can have a reasonable suspicion that misconduct occurred without yet deciding that it did or did not occur. Reasonable grounds for suspicion include such things as observation of questionable behaviour during an exam or quiz, or suggestive information in paper or on an exam. Whether or not the suspicion is reasonable is up to the instructor and will depend on what is observed. It is not necessary to have 100% proof of misconduct to have reasonable suspicion.
Information for detecting academic misconduct, and building these grounds for a report, can be found on the Tips and Tools for Detecting Misconduct page.
TIP: To avoid complications should the student appeal your decision, consider marking the entire student work even if there is evidence of plagiarism or cheating in the first part of the assignment or exam, or if you witness cheating early on. If you don’t mark the work in full, an appeal panel may not be able to make an informed decision on the extent of plagiarism or cheating in the work.
Notify the student of the concerns or allegations and ask the student to respond to your concerns. This can be done verbally or via email. Make a note of the date on which you notified the student and the student’s response.
If you prefer to communicate with the student via email, a sample template is available to use and modify.
TIP: Students are provided with three (3) business days to respond to a notification of an academic integrity violation. You can give them longer if you like, but they are provided with a minimum of five business days to respond.
If the SCAI office receives a faculty report of an academic integrity violation in which the student has not responded yet, but has not been given three (3) business days to respond, the office will wait until the waiting period has passed before processing the report. After the waiting period has passed, an employee from the SCAI office will follow up with the instructor to see if the student has responded to the notification.
TIP: Notifying Student by Email
In the event that the student claims you did not notify them or acted outside the parameters of College Policy, please keep a copy of the email you sent to the student at least until the expiration of the appeal window (approximately 1 month). For more permanent and secure saving, convert your email to a PDF and upload it with your online report.
TIP: Notifying Student in Person/Through Zoom
If you have elected to meet with the student, think of this as an interview to find out what happened, rather than a meeting to inform the student of your decision. Open your meeting by laying out the concerns (what you saw and think) and asking the student to comment. Students may admit to the behaviour. If they do, make a note of their answer.
Students will sometimes deny any wrongdoing. They will sometimes say that the reason their exam answers were identical to their classmate’s is because they studied together or memorized the material. They may claim that the reason their writing has improved considerably over the past two weeks is because they worked very hard and practiced writing. They may tell you that you didn’t explain the expectations well enough and how could they possibly know what is required.
Feel free to ask the student clarifying questions as they explain their point of view or to demonstrate their knowledge of the course material. These questions and their answers can sometimes help you decide if misconduct occurred and what, if any, sanction is appropriate. Regardless of the explanation, make a note of what they told you.
Once you have all the information you need, make a decision as to whether or not an academic integrity violation occurred. You can make your decision during the meeting with the student, following a review of the written response or after you have thought about the situation. Please however, make your decision as quickly as possible. Students are often very anxious about these decisions and fairness dictates a timely decision.
Decisions in academic integrity matters are made “on the balance of probabilities based on the preponderance of evidence”. The balance of probabilities means that something is more likely than not to have occurred. It means that the probability some event happened is more than 50%. You do not need 100% proof that misconduct occurred. The “preponderance of evidence” is all the evidence you have – even if it is limited.
Example: Imagine you observe a student looking at another student’s exam paper, and when you review of the exams, you notice identical answers of some questions. After informing the student of the concerns, the student denies any wrongdoing. After giving the matter some thought, you conclude that it is unlikely that the similarities occurred by random chance, and more likely that the student copied from the other student. If you think of a scale, with the observed behaviour and the exam answers on one side – suggesting that cheating occurred, and the student’s denial on the other – suggesting that cheating did not occur, the weight of evidence will tip the scale to the side (likelihood) that cheating occurred. In this case, the preponderance of evidence will lead you to conclude that, on the balance of probabilities, the student cheated.
TIP: If you make a decision during a meeting with the student and have arrived at what you think is an appropriate sanction for the misconduct, you can inform the student but please let the student know that this decision may change if records show any previous academic integrity violation.
You can access the reporting form, by logging into the New MyLangara portal. Once logged in, click on the “Student Conduct & Support Resources on the right-hand side of the main page, under “Teaching Resources”.
From there, double-click on the Academic Integrity & Conduct Resources:
It’s important to include as much information as possible in the reporting form. Please note that many of your exact words will be copied directly into the students’ letter. We recommend that instructors try to be as succinct as possible. A full set of instructions on how to submit the form can be found HERE.
Once the report has been submitted it will be forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity, who will create a case file and process the report. Once the report has been processed the student will be notified of the report and will receive one of two possible letters:
If this is the first infraction, SCAI will generate a decision letter on your behalf and send this to the student. The letter will contain verbatim information you provided in the online report form and will be put on SCAI letterhead. You will receive a copy of the letter by email (instructors will be BCC’d, and it may look as though the student was not sent the letter – however, the letter will be sent directly to the Langara student email even when not stated).
For first infractions, students will also be automatically assigned to the SCAI Academic Integrity Tutorial. The tutorial is comprised of four modules related to academic integrity, in addition to a final quiz. To complete the tutorial, students must spend a minimum of 40 minutes reviewing the tutorial content and complete the quiz with a grade of 80% or better. The tutorial is focused on providing students a stronger understanding of academic integrity and its importance in postsecondary institutions. Students who do not pass the tutorial are required to meet with a Student Conduct Officer to review the tutorial further. If students do not complete these requirements, then the tutorial is considered incomplete and a hold is placed on their account. The tutorial sanction is considered separate from grade sanctions and will be managed by the SCAI office.
Subsequent or Serious Incidents
If the student has previous infraction(s) on the record, or if the allegation is serious, the student will receive a letter noting that the matter will be referred to the Division Chair or Program Manager. You and the appropriate Division Chair or Program Manager will receive a copy, as well as the student.