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Responding to Suspected Academic Misconduct

This page is intended to support faculty in discussing a suspected incident of academic misconduct with the student.  Please note the following:

  • Consistent reporting and appropriate sanctioning removes the reward for cheating and has been shown to reduce academic misconduct (Passow et al. 2006).
  • When an incident of academic misconduct goes unreported, it increases the likelihood of future academic misconduct for the individual student and their peers (McCabe, Treviño & Butterfield 2001).
  • Not all reports end in sanctions for the students. If a student unintentionally engages in academic misconduct faculty may file a report of “academic negligence.” Typically these reports result in the student being permitted to redo the assignment or conclude with a warning from the faculty member.  However, The Office of the Dean of Students then has the opportunity to educate the student regarding all forms of academic misconduct to discourage any future incidents of academic misconduct, in any category.  For example, a student who commits a negligent act of plagiarism will also learn about ethical collaboration.

Addressing incidents of suspected academic misconduct within your course:

These conversations may vary depending on the type of academic misconduct suspected and your relationship with the student.  For example, did a Testing Center camera record your student cheating on an exam? Or did your student paraphrase a source without a citation, which may or may not have been intentional?

  • If at all possible, meet with the student in person to discuss your concerns. If you are teaching an online course with students at a distance, a phone call or Google Hangout appointment may be useful.
  • Share your concerns with the student. Use open-ended questions to support the student’s ability to connect academic integrity with their future goals and personal values.
  • Allow space for open dialogue. If the student engaged in academic misconduct, often there are underlying reasons for the behavior.  You may be in a position to hold the student responsible for their choices and also provide resources to help them succeed in your class and throughout their time at Boise State.  Many campus resources can be found within the Caring For You handout or on The Office of the Dean of Students homepage.
  • Allow the student to respond and share their perspective on the incident.
  • Be prepared to share the evidence you have found.
  • You do not need to make a decision regarding whether or not there is an act of misconduct or negligence during that meeting. Take time to reflect on the situation and to consult with your department chair and/or the Office of the Dean of Students if necessary.

Works Cited

McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D. & Treviño, L. K. (2012). Cheating in college: Why students do it and what educators can do about it. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Passow, H. J., Mayhew, M. J., Finelli, C. J., Harding, T. S., & Carpenter, D. D. (2006). Factors influencing engineering students’ decisions to cheat by type of assessment. Research in Higher Education, 47 (6), 643-684.