Boise State policy allows faculty the autonomy to determine the severity of the academic misconduct that students have engaged in within their courses. It is extremely important to document and enforce appropriate consequences to protect against repeated and/or widespread misconduct as well as to protect the value of Boise State degrees. The conduct process is intended to both provide opportunities for accountability and education for students, so when possible, it is productive for the alleged misconduct to be treated as a learning opportunity. The Office of the Dean of Students can provide these learning opportunities, and faculty can be as engaged in that learning process with students as they would like.
Faculty Assigned and Assessed Sanctions
In the Student Code of Conduct, academic misconduct is the umbrella that contains two distinct forms of misconduct: academic dishonesty and academic negligence. When determining appropriate sanctions, it can be crucial to identify which of these occurred. Academic dishonesty includes behavior when a student intended to engage in an act of academic misconduct and/or was fully aware of the policies and ethical standards that prohibit that behavior. Academic negligence includes behavior when a student made an honest error with no intent to get an unfair advantage and/or was not aware of the policies and ethical standard that prohibit that behavior. The Code of Conduct does hold students accountable for both dishonesty and negligence, but in determining which of the following sanction(s) to assign, faculty are encouraged to consider whether or not the academic integrity violation was intentional.
- F in the course: When a student’s conduct is particularly severe, not isolated, and/or has a significant impact on the ability of the faculty member to evaluate a student’s performance or understanding in the class, sanctioning an F in the course can be appropriate. Common examples including major cheating on a final exam and plagiarizing all or most of a high-stakes essay.
- Reduced final grade in the course: When a student’s actions are not isolated or have impacted their learning or standing in the entire course, but the conduct was not so severe that they are no longer eligible to pass the course, lowering the final grade can be appropriate. Typically, faculty will inform a student that their final grade will be dropped by one whole letter or set a maximum grade that can be achieved. This sanction is often used in cases when significant misconduct occurred on a lower-stakes assignment, or when minor misconduct occurred on a major, higher-stakes assignment.
- 0 on assignment or test: When a student’s actions have not impacted their standing in the class as a whole but have made it impossible to fairly evaluate their understanding or participation on a given task, giving a score of 0 is an appropriate way to ensure that the work of other students who engaged with the task more ethically are being scored fairly.
- Reduced score on assignment or test: When a student’s actions have not impacted their standing in the class as a whole and it is not entirely impossible to evaluate a student’s understanding or participation, reducing a score but still giving some credit is appropriate. Most faculty opt to give half-credit. This is common in cases of academic negligence or when students have still participated but in an unauthorized collaboration context.
- Revise/redo and resubmit work: When a student will still pass the class and the work in which the academic misconduct occurred is a significant component of the class or a crucial opportunity to engage with major learning outcomes, faculty are encouraged to give students the opportunity to redo the work. Even when a grade penalty is being assigned to a piece of student work in question, students can required to revise/redo and resubmit the work. In cases of academic negligence, a requirement to revise and resubmit or complete an alternative assignment can be fair in lieu of any grade penalty.
- Written warning: While all responsible findings of academic misconduct will be stored in the student’s conduct record, issuing a written warning is appropriate when it is believed that the student needs to further understand that their actions had consequences, or when the misconduct was minor and other sanctions related to a score or grade are not being assigned.
The range of outcomes related to each type of violation and the above suggestions must be weighed alongside the need for fairness, a consideration of whether the student has accepted responsibility for their actions, whether the policy violation was intentional or unintentional, as well as the important of academic integrity to Boise State courses and degrees. Additionally, faculty assigned and assessed sanctions should be in accordance with their syllabus policy on academic integrity in the course. The Office of the Dean of Students can always consult with faculty if they would like feedback on sanctions that would be the most fair and appropriate, information about sanctioning precedent for similar types of incidents, support revising a syllabus statement on academic integrity, or assistance determining if a student’s actions were intentional.
Additional Educational Sanctions
In addition to the above sanctions that fall under the purview of faculty, the Office of the Dean of Students is also able to offer, facilitate, and assess additional sanctions for students that are more educational in nature. A wider range of educational sanctions are currently under construction, but the following are currently available and are an excellent way to help students move forward from an act of academic misconduct and avoid similar situations in the future.
- Online academic integrity workshop: This workshop takes under an hour for students to complete, is housed in Blackboard, and reviews the three most common academic integrity violations at Boise State: plagiarism, cheating, and unauthorized collaboration. It’s appropriate to assign this workshop when a student is being reported for an act of academic misconduct for the first time and/or has not yet taken the workshop through another campus opportunity, or when it’s apparent that they would benefit from an overview of academic integrity at Boise State.
- Required meeting with the Academic Integrity Program Director: While students who are in the academic conduct process are always welcomed and encouraged to schedule a meeting to discuss what occurred, requiring a meeting can ensure that a conversation about the student’s perspective, the importance of academic integrity, and strategies that the student can use moving forward will occur. These conversations work toward learning outcomes for students in the conduct process: understanding individual and community impact of their actions and identifying other actions that they will take in the future. Faculty can select this sanction when filling out a report and the director will require a meeting with students if the academic misconduct is particularly severe. This is also appropriate when it’s clear that a student is particularly uninformed about academic integrity or presenting a great deal of emotion about the allegation.
- Reflective or research writing assignments: In cases when students have committed a more serious act of academic misconduct, have already taken the online workshop mentioned above, and/or are determined to require a more in-depth opportunity to engage with ideas about academic integrity, these assignments are available. The Academic Integrity Program already has assignments written that ask students to explore specific kinds of academic misconduct, codes of ethics, impacts of behavior, and other topics. The program is also happy to tweak or create writing assignments to suit unique student needs. Thorough feedback and follow-up conversation are always included in the assessment process of these sanctions.
Additionally, when students have been found responsible for academic misconduct multiple times, an Academic Sanctioning Board Hearing will be called to review the pattern of behavior and determine what additional sanctions, if any, should be assigned in the interest of the student’s success and the protection of the campus community. Outcomes may range from educational assignments up to suspension or expulsion in cases when the conduct is particularly severe or it is clear that the student will continue to devalue the work of their peers and faculty and the integrity of Boise State degrees through their actions.