Committee looks to centralize stance on academic dishonesty

The Oswego State committee in charge of plagiarism has begun a search to form a centralized way to handle cheating on campus. The committee is looking for a way to provide faculty with the tools to prevent it from happening.

"One charge was to review the existing policy and do some cleaning up and the other charge was to try to provide guidance to faculty so that there would be a more consistent approach to handling issues of academic misconduct across the campus," said David Bozak, chair of the Intellectual Integrity Committee.

Students engaged in the same misconduct are supposed to be treated similarly across undergraduate divisions.

"The centralization isn’t new, other than the committee’s existence, but rather having an identifiable voice regarding intellectual integrity provides a touchstone for the campus," Bozak said. "In that way, the voice is centralized, though the membership spans the entire undergraduate structure."

Forming a centralized way to handle cheating would also help professors maintain the same stance on how to handle students caught in the act.

"Centralizing the issue is very welcome," said Hema Rao, associate professor of accounting, finance and law. "I have not had that problem in my class since I allow my students to bring a card for formulas, which seems to reduce the need to cheat."

One of the characteristics that the committee encourages is integrity and how important it is.

"I’ve had the honor of providing freshmen with an academic welcome message for the past several summer orientations," Bozak said. "One message I convey is that the thing that is most valued in an academics environment is your integrity."

Preventing students from cheating is not Bozak and the committee’s only goal. They also are looking to put an emphasis on preparing faculty for how to handle misconduct.

"One problem we are currently working on is that not all instances of misconduct that are discovered are actually reported," Bozak said. "For example, I believe I’ve been notified of more instances of misconduct during the fall semester that the college totals for all of the last academic year."

The committee is currently reviewing a revised and more comprehensive tutorial and quiz package.

"The committee has been hard at work trying to create structures that will educate, and not merely punish, students who have committed an act of academic dishonesty," said Julie Pretzat, interim associate dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts. "We are working on ways to make people understand that honesty and integrity matter in the world."

According to Bozack, a centralized method could help clear up any haziness or confusion that the current guidelines may include.
"We think that it will be a useful educational tool for faculty with regard to what constitutes misconduct," Bozak said. "We hope to test it out later this spring and summer and make it available to all faculty and students for the fall."

Oswego’s Intellectual Integrity committee was established about five years ago and recommended by an ad-hoc group reporting to the Task Force on Academic Quality.