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Sanctioning Guidelines for Violations of Academic Integrity

This document is designed to aid faculty members in their consideration of sanctions for violations of academic integrity. These are intended to be considered as guidelines. There may be some mitigating factors that will influence the sanction that the faculty member chooses to assign. The University’s academic integrity policy provides for two types of sanctions: academic and disciplinary. All violations will result in an academic sanction but only those that are most severe will be considered for a disciplinary sanction.

Academic sanctions included in these guidelines range from a warning or reduced grade on a single assignment to failure for the course. In all instances, a faculty member should submit an Academic Integrity Form. When a faculty member believes that the student's behavior raises questions about the student's continued involvement in the academic department, consultation should occur with the academic college’s associate dean for undergraduate education or graduate education as appropriate. Removal from the academic program may be used as a sanction when appropriate. Instructors may wish to consult with the college/campus Academic Integrity Committee to determine the appropriateness of an academic sanction.

In recommending a proposed sanction for an academic integrity violation, the faculty member should take into account the severity of the infraction. The chart below contains guidelines that instructors may find useful as they recommend sanctions. The chart describes “minor,” “moderate,” and “major” offenses. The definitions listed below for these terms were originally developed by Behrend College, and are used here with the College’s permission. The sanctions recommended are based on the assumption that the violation is the student's first offense.

Another consideration would be the student's level of study. A first-year student may not be expected to have the same depth of understanding as a student preparing to graduate. In addition, when a graduate student is involved in an alleged violation, consideration may also be given to the Graduate School guidelines expressed in Appendix III and Appendix IV of the Graduate Degree Programs University Bulletin to determine if additional actions should be considered. For reference, please see: http://bulletins.psu.edu/graduate/appendices/appendix4

On rare occasions a faculty member may feel that the student’s behavior is so egregious that an academic sanction is not sufficient. In these cases, the faculty member should consult with the college/campus associate dean for undergraduate education or graduate education, as appropriate, and the unit’s Academic Integrity Committee to discuss the merit of recommending a disciplinary sanction. Disciplinary sanctions are ultimately reviewed and assigned by the Office of Student Conduct or Student Conduct designee. However, the recommendation for the sanction comes to the Office of Student Conduct via the unit’s Academic Integrity Committee. Disciplinary sanctions range from a disciplinary warning to disciplinary probation to expulsion. For more information, visit the website of the Office of Student Conduct.

Type of offense

Violation Considerations Offense: Academic Sanction Range
Copying: examples include a student looking at another student’s work during an exam, a student copying an assignment from another student, students exchanging color-coded exams for the purpose of copying. In determining severity, consider the weight of the exam or the assignment as related to total percentage of course grade, the frequency of copied answers or amount of copied material, whether or not it was premeditated or spontaneous, and any other significant factors.

Minor: Reduced exam or assignment grade to 0 for assignment or exam

Moderate: 0 for assignment or exam to reduced course grade

Major: F for course

Submitting Another Person’s Work As Your Own or Submitting Another Person’s Work Without Proper Citation: for example, a student submits work created by another person as his/her own; a student presents information indicating it is not the student's own work, but fails to properly cite the source. These are commonly referred to as plagiarism. In determining severity, consider the weight of the assignment as related to the total percentage of course grade, whether or not the fabrication or plagiarism was a substantive portion of the assignment, and attempt to determine whether this was a clear case of intentional dishonesty or careless scholarship.

Minor: Redo the assignment with reduction in grade to 0 for assignment with or without redo of assignment

Moderate: Reduction in final course grade in addition to 0 for assignment

Major: F for course

Unauthorized Test Possession, Purchase, or Supplying: for example, when a student possesses an exam without the instructor’s permission; a student purchases or steals an exam; a student fails to return an exam which was requested to be returned; a student makes a copy of an exam; or sells an exam.

With rare exception, this form of misconduct is premeditated and deceptive with the intent to defraud. The manner in which the exam was obtained is critical in determining appropriate action. A student may access old exams and not be aware viewing the exam is a violation.  In other instances, a student may have stolen an exam or is found in possession of an exam knowing it is not permitted.

Minor: 0 for exam

Moderate: Reduction in course grade to F for course

Major: F for course

Ghosting: for example, a student takes a quiz or exam or completes an exercise or assignment on behalf of another student;

NOTE: it is possible that students involved in such violations may not be enrolled in the instructor's class and there is not an option to assign an academic sanction. In such instances the instructor should notify the Office of Student Conduct or Student Conduct Designee.

Although this form of misconduct is inherently premeditated and deceptive, severity should be assessed based on the percentage of course grade the violation entails.

Faculty may also consider the nature of the deception - for example, signing in for another student in order to gain class participation points vs. having another student complete an assignment or take an exam for a student

Minor (primarily used when ghosting was for participation points or in-class low credit assignment): 0 for participation points; 0 for assignment to reduced grade for course participation credit

Moderate: 0 for quiz or exam and reduction in course grade

Major: F for course

Altering Exams or Assignments: for example, a student changes incorrect answers and requests a favorable grade adjustment when instructor returns graded assignments/exams for review; a student changes the letter and/or numerical grade on an exam/assignment after the instructor has assigned the final grade.

This form of misconduct is deceptive with the intent to defraud, and may also affect the credibility of an instructor. Consideration should be given to whether the act was premeditated or spontaneously committed out of panic. In determining severity, consider the extent to which the exam or assignment was altered, the weight of the exam as related to total percentage of course grade, and other significant factors.

Minor: 0 for exam or assignment

Moderate: Reduced course grade to F in course

Major: F for course

Improper Use of Technology: for example, a student possesses and/or uses a cell phone when one is not permitted; a student uses software or electronic aides such as calculators, computers, handheld devices, etc. when not permitted by the instructor.

When sanctioning consider if the technology was used for misconduct.
Also consider whether the misconduct was premeditated, the impact it potentially had on student’s course grade, and the level of dishonest activity in which the student engaged.

Minor: Warning to Reduction in assignment or exam grade

Note: When students possess an unauthorized electronic device but there appears no evidence of intended use, a faculty may issue a warning and not reduce the student's course grade

Moderate: Reduced course grade

Major: F for course

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty by Others: for example, a student permits another student to copy an exam or assignment; a student provides a completed assignment to another student and allows the student to submit it as his or her own; a student writes another student’s paper or completes another student’s assignment and then provides it to the student so they may receive credit; a student shares information about an exam with another student who has not taken the exam.

NOTE: it is possible that students involved in such violations may not be enrolled in an instructor's class and the instructor may not have the option to assign an academic sanction. In such instances the instructor should notify the Office of Student Conduct or Student Conduct Designee.

For students who are enrolled in the class, consider the impact their actions had on the grade of the student they were assisting in measuring the severity of the violation. 

Minor: Reduced assignment grade for what the student submitted

Moderate: 0 for assignment student submitted

Major: Reduced grade in course

Submitting Work Previously Used Without Permission: for example, a student submits work completed previously for another course or assignment without the instructor's permission.

*This violation assumes that the work submitted is the student's own work, submitted on more than one previous occasion.

Students appear to be less informed regarding this form of academic dishonesty, and in some cases you may find that this breach occurs to some degree in an inadvertent manner as compared to other forms of academic dishonesty.

Minor: Warning and Redo assignment to Redo Assignment and reduced grade for assignment

Moderate: Redo assignment with reduced grade to 0 for assignment

Major: 0 for assignment to F in the course

Unauthorized Collaboration: for example, working with another student on an assignment or exam.

When sanctioning, consider whether or not the misconduct was premeditated, the impact it potentially had on the student’s course grade, and the level of dishonest activity in which the student engaged.

Faculty may wish to consider a more serious sanction when students were explicitly instructed not to collaborate

Minor: Redo assignment.

Reduced assignment or exam grade

Moderate: 0 for assignment or exam

Major: 0 for assignment or exam and reduction in course grade

Unauthorized Use of Study Aids: for example, using or possessing crib sheets; pre-programming an electronic device to provide solutions; using notes, texts, etc. without the permission of the instructor.

When sanctioning, consider whether or not the misconduct was premeditated, the impact it potentially had on student’s course grade, and the level of dishonest activity in which the student engaged.

Minor: Reduced exam grade if determined use is limited to failure of exam

Moderate: Failure of exam to reduced course grade

Major: F for course