Academic dishonesty trends decrease following administrative changes

Academic integrity violations have been cut in half since a new system was implemented at the University of Windsor. As of the 2014/2015 school year, the Academic Integrity Office is giving associate deans more power to handle violations within departments.

According to their annual reports, the Academic Integrity Office (AIO), recorded 231 violations in the 2013/14 school year. When the new system was implemented the following year, 162 cases were reported. Last year, a total of 94 cases were reported.

Danieli Arbex, officer of academic integrity and student conduct, wants the new system to give students the opportunity to understand why their actions were wrong and avoid repeat offences.

“Some associate deans will take a plagiarism case and take it very seriously,” says Arbex. “Others will take that more like a learning opportunity for the student. That’s what we are trying to tell them. It should be more like learning than punishing the students.”

As a result of the new systems, the AIO is no longer able to acquire accurate data on new integrity violations or how they are being addressed if the matter is managed within the department.

“We want to believe that professors are addressing the problem but we don’t have data on that. We don’t have paperwork,” says Arbex.

The previous system required professors to report all incidences of academic dishonestly to the AIO, where a record would be written and a punishment administered. Common sanctions for reported violations include a warning, a letter of apology or mark reduction to 0 per cent.

While the new system suggests a decrease in reported incidences, students continue to be academically dishonest for a variety of reasons.

“The incredibly unhealthy and competitive atmosphere surrounding medical school and other professional schools would be a primary influence for someone to be academically dishonest,” says third-year biochemistry student Matthew McLaughlin.

Students across other disciplines of study agree that innocent errors can be misinterpreted as academic dishonesty.

“It’s difficult to avoid academic dishonesty when someone doesn’t know how to cite properly, or they can’t be bothered to learn, or they don’t reach out to others to try and learn,” says Siri Gautheir, a third-year English student. “Academic dishonesty might also come when someone doesn’t realize what needs to be cited.”

McLaughlin says the largest obstacle to overcome is determining what is cite worthy within a lab report. “There is kind of a grey area regarding what is ‘common knowledge’ and what needs to be cited,” he says. “A lot of students have been accused of academic dishonesty as the result of an honest mistake.”  

Plagiarism remains the number one violation recorded by the AIO, making up a total of 45 to 55 percent of all cases, according to Arbex.

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Grace Howes

Grace Howes

Third year Digital Journalism and English Literature and Language Major. Talk to me about dogs, the environment and food. Lover of extravagant beverages of all types.

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