Academic Integrity :: Northern Virginia Community College

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Academic Integrity

Policy Number: 224

Categorized: Academic Policies

Responsible Office: Academic Deans

Subject: Responding to allegations of academic dishonesty

Related Policies:


Additional Information: Addendum: Testing Center Procedures

Effective Date: 05/20/2019

Last Reviewed Date: 03/26/2019

1.0 Scope

This policy applies to all students.

2.0 Policy Statement

When College officials award credit, degrees, and certificates, they must assume the absolute integrity of the work students have done; therefore, it is important that students maintain the highest standard of honor in their scholastic work.

The College does not tolerate academic dishonesty. Along with any grade penalty the instructor imposes if the student is found responsible for violating the Academic Integrity Policy, the student may also face disciplinary action for violating the Student Code of Conduct.

Students suspected of violating this policy shall be addressed in accordance with the provisions of this policy.

3.0 Definitions

Academic dishonesty (academic misconduct): the misrepresentation of one’s academic work, which includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Cheating: the intentional use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise, for example:
    • copying or using notes, examinations, or other instructional material during examinations, tests, or quizzes
    • using another person to write a paper or any part of a paper, without indicating the person’s contribution with proper documentation
    • obtaining, using, or possessing unauthorized copies of an examination or any written work to be graded, or receiving unauthorized information regarding examinations
    • submitting another’s assignment as one’s own
    • having an examination taken or other graded assignment completed by a someone else
    • altering or falsifying examination results after they have been evaluated by the faculty member and returned to the student
    • writing, without authorization, the answer to an exam question outside class and submitting that answer as part of an in-class exam
  2. Facilitating academic dishonesty: the intentional or knowing help or attempt to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty, such as:
    • completing, in whole or part, an examination, or other graded assignment for someone else
    • permitting another student to copy one’s work during an examination, test, or quiz
    • permitting another student to copy one’s written work whenever the work is to receive a grade
    • collaborating with another individual or individuals in the completion of course assignments when collaboration is not permitted
    • giving test questions or answers to anyone else
    • selling or purchasing all or part of examinations, papers, or other assignments
    • posting materials from a publisher without their express written permission
    • posting copies of, and/or answers to; tests, quizzes, or other assessments (e.g. lab reports)
  3. Plagiarism: the intentional or unintentional presentation as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source without properly citing the source of the material, for example:
    • duplicating an author’s work (in part or whole) without quotation marks and/or accurate citations
    • duplicating an author’s words or phrases or ideas with accurate citations, but without quotation marks as necessary
    • using an author’s idea(s) in paraphrase without accurate citation(s)
    • submitting, without quotation marks, an essay or written work to be graded in which exact words are merely rearranged even though cited
  4. Other forms of academic dishonesty, such as:
    • submitting or resubmitting the same paper for two different classes/courses without the explicit authorization and approval of the faculty members teaching those classes/courses
    • fabrication: intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information, data, or citation in an academic exercise

Administrative sanctions: See the table in section 4.5.

Educational sanctions: include, but are not limited to counseling, reflection paper, community service, ethics seminar, research paper review of relevant article, restitution, policy review paper, interview key staff, behavior contract/agreement.

Violations may be classified as minor, moderate, and major. (See Section 4.4. Classification of Violations)

4.0 Procedures

4.1. Report initiated by instructor

  1. When an administrative sanction would involve grading, Instructors citing academic misconduct will submit an online academic misconduct incident report, with any evidence supporting the allegation of academic misconduct. Minor violations for which the sanction is educational or would not impact grading do not need to be reported.
  2. The instructor will send the student an email, with a copy to the Associate Academic Dean or Academic Dean, describing the incident and providing supporting documentation, where possible.

Any student who withdraws from a course with a pending academic misconduct violation may be subject to a grade change.

4.2. Report Initiated by Testing Center Staff

Testing Center staff who observe cheating will report the alleged violation for review in accord with this policy. All evidence, whether physical (e.g. cheat sheets) or electronic (e.g. screen shots, surveillance video), will be collected and submitted with the report.

  1. If a student is observed cheating during a placement test, the test will be stopped. Testing Center staff will file an online academic integrity report. If, after review, the student is found responsible for cheating, the student will forfeit the first placement test attempt. Retests will be permitted in accordance with established retest policy. If the student is found not responsible for cheating the Testing Center staff deletes that attempt from the online placement testing system.
  2. For all other tests administered in the Testing Center, if the student is observed cheating, the test will not be stopped but the instructor will be notified and an online academic misconduct incident report will be filed. This policy applies to NOVAOnline exams taken via virtual proctoring.

Use of cell phones is prohibited by Testing Center policy. When a student is observed to be in possession of a cell phone or other communication device during testing, all tests will be stopped regardless of the kind of test and regardless of whether or not the student was observed using the communication device or merely being in possession of it. In this case, the Testing Center staff will file an online academic integrity report and notify the instructor that a report has been filed.

Procedures for academic integrity violations in Testing Centers can be found in the addendum to this policy.

4.3. Report Initiated by Academic Support Staff

Academic Support staff (tutors, librarians, advisors, etc.) who observe cheating will submit an online academic misconduct incident report, with any evidence supporting the allegation of academic misconduct.

4.4. Classification of Violations

Alleged violations will be classified as minor, moderate or major. Proportionate sanctions will be determined in accord with the chart below.

Minor violations: In general, minor violations involve errors in judgment that, in the faculty member’s professional opinion, violate academic integrity. Some examples may include:

  1. Minor Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: student copies part of the work of another student exactly on an assignment on which collaboration is allowed but copying is not.
  2. Minor Cheating: A student is caught glancing at another exam, but there is no evidence of premeditation or collaboration between those students
  3. Minor Plagiarism: student indicates that source of information is not original, but does not follow proper citation procedures.

Moderate violations: In general, moderate violations are unpremeditated dishonest acts that directly affect only one student. Some examples may include:

  1. Moderate Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: providing another student with a copy of one’s work or completing work for another student when collaboration is not permitted.
  2. Moderate Cheating: student cheats, or facilitates the cheating of another, on an examination (in cases where there is no evidence of premeditation). A student tries to gain an advantage in an exam by removing reserved materials from a lab to have additional study time at home
  3. Moderate Plagiarism: student paraphrases or copies a portion or portions of a document without citing the source or acknowledging the source of information is not original.

Major violations: In general, major violations are premeditated dishonest acts or dishonest acts that directly affects the offenders and/or other students’ grades. Some examples may include:

  1. Major Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: student poses as, or facilitates another posing as, someone else during an exam.
  2. Major Cheating: student cheats or facilitates the cheating of another on an examination in a way that is premeditated (e.g., using a cheat sheet, a prearranged system of sharing answers, or some similar method that was planned in advance).
  3. Major Plagiarism: student places his/her name on a written assignment he/she did not write.

4.5. Administrative Sanctions

MinorMinimumInstructor talks with the student about infraction.
MaximumInstructor gives a U or F for the assignment.
ModerateMinimumInstructor gives U or F for the assignment.
MaximumInstructor gives a U or F for the course.
MajorInstructor gives a U or F for the course.

4.6. Referral to the Code of Conduct process

Violations that also include a separate violation of the Code of Conduct, such as stealing a test or examination, falsifying official documents, etc. will be referred by the Academic Dean or designee to the Dean of Students or designee for handling in accord with the Code of Conduct process as soon as the alleged misconduct is identified. Multiple reports of academic integrity violations where the student is found responsible will also be referred to the Code of Conduct process. If the student is found responsible for a violation, the Dean of Students will impose the appropriate sanctions per the Code of Conduct. The Dean of Students will notify the Academic Dean and instructor of the outcome.

4.7. Due Process for Academic Misconduct

  1. Within five business days following notification of the incident, the instructor initiates a meeting (either in person or via the phone) with the student to discuss the incident, giving the student an opportunity to supply the instructor with any additional information that may alter the outcome. The instructor may consult with the appropriate Associate Dean. When possible, the Associate Dean will work with the student and the instructor to resolve the issue informally.
  2. The instructor makes a determination of whether or not the student is responsible for academic misconduct and, if so, assigns a sanction in accord with this policy and notifies the student via email. Both administrative and educational sanctions may be imposed. The email will direct the student to this policy for information on the appeal process. Note: Student who are assigned an educational sanction but fail to complete it may be subject to additional sanctions or disciplinary action.

4.8. Appeal

  1. A student who is not satisfied with the outcome within five business days may submit a written appeal of the instructor’s decision to the Academic Dean. The Academic Dean will review all documents relating to the violation and render a decision within five business days of receipt of the written appeal. The student will be notified of the decision through VCCS email.
  2. A student who is not satisfied with the decision of the Academic Dean may request a review by the Provost within five business days of receipt of the Academic Dean’s decision. No new evidence will be considered. Within five business days, the Provost will review the actions that have already taken place and render a decision. The student will be notified of the decision by College email. The decision of the Provost is final.

Deadlines may be extended by mutual written agreement; however, the Provost has the authority to extend deadlines at any level of the process.

Once the student has exhausted the appeal process, the student has no right to file a grievance about a course grade resulting, even in part, from the academic misconduct process.

5.0 Authority

VCCS Code of Ethics