The primary responsibilities of the Office of Judicial Affairs include:
- creating educational programming about Stanford’s Honor Code and Fundamental Standard and the University’s student judicial process
- responding to possible violations of the Honor Code and Fundamental Standard
- adjudicating all student judicial cases
Your Role in Upholding the Honor Code and Fundamental Standard
Students and faculty receive copies of the Stanford Bulletin. Two sections of that publication, “Student Services and Programs” and “Nonacademic Regulations” contain Stanford’s various policies governing student conduct. These include “The Honor Code” and the “Fundamental Standard.”
Teaching staff file between 80-100 reports of alleged violations of the Honor Code every year. Each case is investigated and, if there is sufficient evidence, forwarded to a Judicial Panel for review and sanctioning. The majority of these cases involve violations such as plagiarism, unpermitted collaboration, revising and resubmitting work, and unpermitted aid. The majority of the students found responsible receive the standard sanction: a one-quarter suspension from the University and 40 hours of community service. Most faculty and TAs opt to give such students a “No Pass” or “No Credit” for the assignment or course involved.
With some guidance and advice from you, students are much less likely to find themselves committing violations. Many of your predecessors have suggested and/or found the following tips helpful in their work with students.
The length of this message may suggest that teaching at Stanford mainly involves responding to cheating problems. That is not true at all. Most Stanford students are here to learn and behave honestly. They value your teaching and their own accomplishments.
Preventing Honor Code Violations
- Remind students of the Honor Code and the usual penalties for violations. Share some personal thoughts about why you value academic integrity. Link your support of the Honor Code to its importance in your discipline and profession. The most profound discussions often involve personal stories about your experiences with the Honor Code or issues of academic integrity.
- Remind students of their obligation under the Honor Code to take some action if they observe cheating in progress. Reporting a problem to you or our office may be necessary if other responses are ineffective or inappropriate.
- If possible choose exam rooms large enough to allow alternate seating.
- Require that notes, handouts and other materials used for last minute cramming are put away and not visible by anyone.
- Consider allowing students to bring into an exam one 3x5 or 4x6 card on which they can write whatever they wish. Deciding what to put on the card seems to help in exam preparation and also to reduce the temptation to use unpermitted notes.
- Ask students not to sit near their study partners. Study partners frequently do similar work and make similar mistakes. Sitting some distance apart ensures that copying is not a likely explanation for similarities in their work.
- To the extent possible avoid multiple-choice questions on quizzes and exams.
- For writing assignments consider building in milestones. For example you might require that drafts be submitted periodically for review and at least a week or two prior to the paper deadline. Discourage last-minute topic shifts.
- The Honor Code prohibits students from submitting their own work in more than one class without explicit instructor permission. If you expect original work or conversely would permit a student to expand on previous work please be clear about what you would expect or permit.
- Advice from students to faculty members: On April 15, 2011 Syracuse University sponsored an academic integrity forum featuring presentations by student leaders from the University of Maryland, Princeton University, Vanderbilt University, and Syracuse University. See what students had to say.
- Do not assume your students know how to cite properly. Many upperclassmen and even graduate students have been found guilty of plagiarizing. It is important to discuss plagiarism and to provide examples of adequate and inadequate acknowledgment of sources.
- If you are in a technical field it is important to emphasize that using the concepts, structures or computer code of another without acknowledgment is also plagiarism.
- If students are allowed to consult with each other about assignments, but are not allowed to submit group work for credit, be as clear as you can both orally and in writing about where the boundary lies between permitted and unpermitted collaboration or consultation. Explain that if students receive aid that they use in their assignment they should note that assistance. Students from cultures that emphasize the value of collaboration and teamwork seem to have extra difficulty understanding and observing limitations on collaborative work. Instructors are increasingly recognizing the difficulty of setting limits on collaboration that students both understand and respect. Sometimes, guidelines are ignored. Students who recognize the educational value of working with others on intellectual tasks may view barriers to that collaboration as counterproductive. Therefore they may probably view such barriers as not seriously intended. Unfortunately these infractions are still Honor Code violations. They usually receive penalties similar to those for situations that are deliberately dishonest.
- Consider photocopying a 20% random sample of original graded work prior to returning the work to students. Announce this plan both orally and in writing. Students and faculty in large science/math classes have assured the Office of Judicial Affairs that such random photocopying is a strong deterrent on the temptation to alter graded work and submit it for re-grading.
Responding to Possible Honor Code Violations
- If you believe that a student is behaving dishonestly, do something. You will be right or you will be wrong. But in either case the student will benefit from learning that his or her behavior caused a reasonable person to have doubts. You are responsible for the integrity of the academic process. It is appropriate for you to take some action if you believe that integrity is being violated.
- Do not assign academic penalties on the basis of suspected dishonesty. The Honor Code prohibits so-called penalty grading. If after questioning the student about the problematic work, you continue to believe that cheating occurred, refer the situation to Judicial Affairs. If the evidence of misconduct is weak, the student will get the benefit of the doubt.
- In an exam setting the prohibition on proctoring does not prevent you from entering the room in response to a report that cheating has been observed. You may confiscate notes or other materials, ask students to change seats, quit talking to each other – whatever is appropriate given the particular circumstances. You may mark exams to allow later comparisons or to indicate the point at which notes were confiscated. But do not confiscate the exams themselves. (Should there not be adequate proof of dishonesty it is difficult to assign a course grade if the student was not allowed to complete the examination.)
- Whatever the setting if you cannot figure out how best to handle a possible problem consult with our office. You can do so anonymously. We will preserve confidentiality. Seeking advice does not commit you to filing a concern.
- If grade entries are needed simply do not assign the student a grade; leave the actual grade unassigned until the matter in question is resolved.
Please do not hesitate to call us (650-725-2485) with questions, problems or concerns or visit the faculty section of our web site at: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/vpsa/judicialaffairs/faculty/faqs.htm . Good luck with your teaching!