Back See this section in context: Criterion 4 Core Component 4D
4D.1: Academic Integrity
SVCC is committed to integrity in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge as evidenced by policies and practices which ensure academic integrity in the discovery and use of knowledge, including the many ways students are introduced to ethics in instruction and the commitment of the faculty to include ethics and research in the general education competencies.
A Student Code of Conduct, authorized in Board Policy 616.01 (), states that “Students at Sauk Valley Community College are expected to demonstrate qualities of morality, honesty, civility, honor, and respect.” It further describes Sauk's academic integrity policy and defines violations, including definitions of cheating and plagiarism. The document also details for faculty and students the procedures for filing a formal complaint, parties responsible for investigation, and the hearing and appeals process. The Code of Conduct is introduced in Orientation (PSY 100), included in the college catalog, and appears under the “College Policies” section of the homepage. It was also in the student handbook until it was discontinued in FY09.
Although the definition of academic integrity and the procedures for enforcement of the code are clear in the Student Code of Conduct, the policy does not define specific consequences. An informal survey of ten randomly-selected spring 2010 syllabi revealed inconsistency in disciplinary consequences. Three made no mention of academic integrity. Of the seven which contained statements concerning academic integrity,
- three offered students definitions and examples of what constituted cheating in the course,
- five referred to the Student Code of Conduct,
- three defined the consequences “in accordance with school policy,”
- three included an “F” in the course as a possible consequence,
- two included “a zero on the assignment,” as a possible consequence, and
- two alluded generally to “other” possible consequences, including expulsion.
Although latitude in disciplinary action is necessary to ensure fairness, the wide range of definitions and inconsistent consequences make it difficult for students to understand and comply with the college’s expectations for their behavior.
Sauk has adopted two general education competencies which specifically address the integrity of student scholarship and which are subject to assessment efforts:
- Ethics: Instructional outcomes related to ethics ask students to “identify ethical issues, explain their significance, and analyze the consequences of ethical and unethical behavior.” Systematic collection of data about student skills, as well as faculty-wide discussion of these findings, has shown about 90% of students are capable of identifying ethical issues, and about 70% can explain their significance. This outcome supports the ideal of ensuring that students apply knowledge responsibly and can reason about the consequences of actions.
- Research: The research outcomes ask students to “identify and evaluate research tools, methods and processes” as well as “identify and evaluate information and sources.” About 88% of students were capable of identifying and evaluating information, according to assessment data, a percentage which suggests that student-conducted research is meeting standards set by the faculty.
Faculty are supported in their efforts by services offered to students and have many opportunities for professional development.
- The IT Office takes a major role in assisting faculty and staff in understanding and identifying the changing face of academic dishonesty by offering professional development activities like the following examples:
- A seminar called “Cheating and Plagiarism in the Electronic Age,” which was presented to faculty during 2006 professional development sessions, is currently housed on the IT resources page and focuses on ways faculty can identify and combat cheating.
- A 45-minute workshop presented to the full-time faculty in spring 2010 explored the use of technology in cheating on classroom tests; reviewed the connection between the Internet and plagiarized writing assignments; and clarified the distinctions between print and digital image permissions.
- Sauk supports several programs that proactively deter academic dishonesty by offering highly individualized services which promote self-sufficiency and offer students a way to access help and materials without resorting to dishonesty:
- To provide support for students to control their own learning, the LAC trains its tutors to recognize the boundaries of assistance. The training guidelines direct tutors to be “a partner in solving problems” and not “do the problem” but “help the student do the problem.” Guidelines for writing tutors are even more specific, indicating that tutors must not “write the paper or generate any text for the student.”
- A grant-funded TRIO program, SSS assists its at-risk participants to face the challenges of joining the academic community by offering individualized services which promote self-sufficiency and promote academic honesty, including personal, academic, and career counseling; free personal tutoring; and resource materials.