Why Formally Report Academic Misconduct?
Some instructors may choose not to formally report students for academic misconduct. This may be due to an overwhelming number of cases, an instructor attempting to give a student the benefit of the doubt, instructors not wanting to heavily sanction students, or alternatively due to frustration over limited sanctions options.
We highly recommend instructors report incident of academic misconduct for a variety of reasons:
The Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity compiles an annual report every year of cases that are reported and investigated by the office. The annual report provides the College community with a helpful understanding of the culture of academic integrity at the College and provides recommendations on future initiatives, as well as guages the success of past or current initiatives.
Read the current SCAI annual report.
This first reported violation is meant to serve as an educational moment for students who may be unaware or unfamiliar with the academic integrity policy.
Students who receive their first formal report are automatically assigned the Academic Integrity Tutorial in order to further explain the importance of academic integrity, as well as to allow for harsher penalties for future violations (as the students should theoretically know better after the tutorial). Failure to complete this tutorial sanction results in severe penalties in the form of a complete hold on the student’s account.
Additionally, the formal letter from the Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity also tends to stress the severity of these academic integrity violations and the consequences.
An instructor may decide not to formally report an incident of academic misconduct, as they do not plan to place severe sanctions on the student (for example just warn the student or ask a student to resubmit an assignment).
However, the formal report sanctions for instructors are designed with this in mind. Instructors have the leeway when reporting to place educational or non-grade sanctions. It is still important for instructors to report minor incidents, as it ensures that any and all incidents are included in the student’s file to screen for repeated behaviour.
The available sanctions to instructors for first incidents of academic misconduct include:
- Formal warning
- Remedial sanctions (including the resubmission of work)
- Educational sanctions (including mandatory academic integrity training)
- Reduced mark, up to and including zero, on the assignment or the exam
Some instructors have expressed frustration to limitations to their sanctioning options when formally reporting an incident of academic misconduct. However, the sanctions are designed to increase in severity with every subsequent report.
If an instructor chooses to informally deal with a student’s academic misconduct, it may limit future instructors when they are faced with academic misconduct from the same student. When the future instructor decides to formally report the student, their report would be considered a first violation on the part of the student (as it would be the first formal report), and the sanctions placed on the student may not reflect their continued disregard for academic integrity.
Students with two or more violations on record will have their reports submitted to the Division Chair or Program Manager, who has the ability to place more severe sanctions with every subsequent report. These increased sanctions may include:
- Reduced grade in the course
- A grade of “F” in a course
- Recommendation for suspension from the College
- Recommendation for rescinding or denial of a College credential(s)
An important aspect of a formal report is that students are ensured that their rights are protected. This includes the ability to formally appeal a report if they are able to provide evidence that they have not violated the academic integrity policy, or if the correct procedure was not adhered to.
The conditions for students to appeal is quite difficult, as students are required to appeal on at least one of the three available grounds, and are required to provide enough evidence to tip the balance of probabilities to show that an academic integrity violation did not take place. Students may only appeal on one of the following grounds:
- The action which received a sanction does not constitute an academic integrity violation as defined by the policy
- There is clear and demonstrable evidence of a procedural error that significantly affected the outcome of the decision
- The sanction imposed under the policy is too harsh given the nature of the violation
As noted, a procedural error is sufficient grounds for an appeal. If a student is given an informal sanction by an instructor, the student may be able to appeal that sanction on the basis that College policy and the procedure was not followed.