What is Academic Dishonesty?

Academic honesty is a fundamental principle of learning and a necessary foundation for all academic institutions, particularly those dedicated to independent project-based education, such as WPI. Violations of the principle deny the opportunity to obtain confident command of the material students are credited with knowing, cheat their classmates out of deserved rewards and recognition, debase the institution, and demean the degree that it awards. 

Academic dishonesty is any act which interferes with evaluation of academic work, through the misrepresentation of the work being evaluated and the student's actual knowledge. A students' academic integrity is vital to the academic environment, as education involves the search for and acquisition of knowledge and understanding, which are, in themselves, intangible. Evaluation of each student’s level of knowledge and understanding is a vital part of the teaching process, and requires tangible measures such as reports, examinations, and homework. The following acts are examples of academic dishonesty at WPI:

  • Fabrication:
    • Altering grades or other official records
    • Changing exam solutions after the fact
    • Inventing or changing laboratory data
    • Falsifying research
    • Inventing sources
    • Sabotage of another student’s work or academic record
  • Plagiarism:
    • Misrepresenting the work of another as one’s own
    • Inaccurately or inadequately citing sources including those from the Internet
    • Copying, pasting, or purchasing work from someone else without proper citation
  • Cheating:
    • Use of purchased term papers
    • Copying on exams, homework, or take-home exams
    • Use of unauthorized materials or sources of information such as a “cheat sheet,” preprogrammed calculator, cell phones, books, etc.
    • Obtaining assistance from another person in cases where prohibited
  • Facilitation:
    • Sharing test questions or answers from an exam with another student
    • Letting another student copy a solution to a homework problem, exam, or lab
    • Taking an exam for another student
    • Assistance in any act of academic dishonesty of another student.

 Responsibilities of Faculty Members and Students

Faculty members should outline their policies concerning evaluation procedures and their expectations pertaining to academic integrity at the beginning of each course. Faculty will ensure that student performance is judged solely on the basis of academic work in courses and projects. Because of the differences in disciplines and the type of work involved, faculty interpretation regarding what constitutes academic dishonesty may vary across campus. Since project-based education places a strong emphasis on group work, faculty and students should be particularly attentive to the distinction between group work and individual performance expectations.  Faculty and students are responsible for knowing and understanding WPI’s policy and procedure for dealing with academic dishonesty. Faculty is encouraged to implement measures designed to minimize or prevent academic dishonesty.

Academic Honesty Procedures

The WPI faculty and administration have developed a set of procedures designed to ensure uniform (and fair) treatment of undergraduate or graduate students suspected of academic dishonesty. Students are encouraged to meet with a member of the Dean of Students staff to discuss their judicial resolution options at any time through the process outlined below.  Students or others who suspect a faculty member of professional dishonesty should consult the academic department head or the provost.

  • Faculty shall report to the department chair any suspected act of academic dishonesty by a student.
  • The chair shall review cases referred to him/her to determine if there is reason for believing that academic dishonesty may be involved.
  • Faculty shall allow the student to continue in the course without prejudice, pending resolution of the case.
  • The chair or instructor shall check with the Dean of Students Office to determine if the student has any record of prior offenses involving academic dishonesty. 
  • The chair or instructor shall consult with the student involved. If the act of academic dishonesty is admitted and is the first violation of that nature, the chair or instructor may resolve the complaint within the department, provided the penalty is accepted by the student in writing. The maximum penalty that can be applied at the department level is dismissal from a course or a project without credit. In all cases, a signed, written report on the matter, including the action taken, shall be sent to the Dean of Students Office.  If the student does not want to resolve the case at the department level by signing the departmental agreement, the case will be referred to the CHB for resolution. 
  • For the second and subsequent violations, the case shall be submitted to the CHB for resolution. 
  • The CHB shall hear the allegations, following standard procedures for disciplinary hearings outlined in Sections V-XIII of the Planner as established by WPI. The board may impose normal disciplinary sanctions and may recommend loss of any credit or grade for the course or project. If a student is found not responsible on a complaint of academic dishonesty, he/she may not be failed or penalized by the instructor on the grounds of dishonesty. The instructor shall assign a grade based on assessment of the student’s mastery of the material being evaluated. 
  • Judicial records for any act of academic dishonesty are maintained by the Dean of Students Office in accordance with the Judicial Records Policy set forth in Section XII of the Planner.

This webpage adapts information from the University of Oklahoma, Norman Campus, Harvard University, and other colleges and universities.

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