Academic Judiciary for the College of Arts & Sciences, Marine Sciences Research Center, Department of Physical Education

 

Report for Academic Year 2001-2002

 

Prepared by John J. Shea (Chair) and Maria Drueckhammer (Executive Officer)

 

The Academic Judiciary for CAS, MSRC and PE handles accusations of academic dishonesty and grievances filed against faculty members.  The AJC is staffed by an Executive Officer and a Staff Assistant and works closely with the Academic Judiciary Committee of the CAS Senate. 

 

In January 2002 Dr. Nancy Franklin stepped down as Executive Officer after three years in the position.  Maria Drueckhammer, Assistant Provost for Administration and Operations, agreed to serve as Dr. Franklin’s successor.  As a result of the delay in the appointment of Drueckhammer, and time necessary for her to learn about the policies, procedures and processes, a backlog of student appeals developed.  Most of the cases from the Fall of 2001 were heard by the end of the Spring semester.  However, due to the difficulty in scheduling hearings during the summer because of limited student and faculty availability, there still exists a small backlog (approximately 15 cases) from the Spring and Summer semesters.  Due to the large number of hearings pending, Drueckhammer has been unable to write up the summaries for the AJC website and Statesman, but hopes to be able to begin posting those regular summaries this semester.

 

Dr. Franklin worked diligently to educate faculty and undergraduate students about the academic judiciary.  Ms. Drueckhammer has followed in this vein, addressing many departmental TA meetings, as well as USB 101/EAS 101 sections, and orientation sessions for students and adjunct faculty.  Over the summer, Drueckhammer also created a database for all accusations dating back to the 95-96 academic year.  She plans on analyzing this data to better understand the nature of the accusations and use it to plan ways to better educate faculty and students on ways to prevent cheating and promote academic integrity.

 

Presentation of Data on AJC Activities.

This past year (2001-2002) the AJC handled 144 accusations, 53 hearings, 8 grievances and 1 grievance hearing.  Summary statistics for the AJC for academic years 95-96 through 2001-2002 are presented below together with data from six previous academic years (Table 1).  The number of accusations, appeals, and guilty findings of hearing boards for the 2001-2002 academic year remained more or less unchanged from previous years.  The overwhelming number of cases heard resulted in guilty findings.

 


Table 1. Activity Levels.

Acad Yr

Accusations

Appeals

% Appeals

Guilty

% Guilty

1995-96

44

26

59%

38

86%

1996-97

72

28

39%

64

89%

1997-98

66

15

23%

55

83%

1998-99

84

29

35%

71

85%

1999-2000

136

33

24%

136

100%

2000-01

173

41

24%

162

94%

2001-02

130

37

29%

124

95%

 

Over the course of the Fall, Executive Officer Maria Drueckhammer undertook an exhaustive  review and classification of offenses reported to the AJC.  These data are summarized in Table 2 (raw numbers) and Table 3 (percentages of each year’s cases).

 

Table 2. Variation in Types of Offenses (Raw numbers).

Acad Yr

Coll

Copy

Crib

Fals

Forg

Fraud

Plag

Plag(I)

Rgr

ET

Sell

FE

Tmp

N

95-96

6

6

6

4

2

0

15

5

0

0

0

0

0

44

96-97

4

11

4

6

7

1

26

10

0

3

0

0

0

72

97-98

6

10

3

6

3

0

28

10

0

0

0

0

0

66

98-99

10

16

7

8

4

1

20

17

0

1

0

0

0

84

99-00

10

15

10

35

5

0

33

23

0

0

3

1

1

136

00-01

25

10

4

51

7

0

26

44

2

1

3

0

0

173

01-02

6

22

5

22

1

0

25

43

1

1

6

0

0

132

Abbreviations for Offenses:

Coll = unauthorized collaboration on solo assignments.

Copy = copying (typically in exams).

Crib = crib sheet in exams.

Fals = falsification of data/assignment submitted for re-grading.

Forg = Forging doctors' notes, signatures, official documents (e.g., transcripts).

Fraud = fraud, misrepresentation.

Plag = plagiarism (not from the Internet).

Plag(I) = plagiarism from the Internet.

Rgr = use of a “ringer” (one student posing as another in exam).

ET = transmitting answers or using electronic devices.

Sell = buying/selling/stealing exams, papers.

FE = giving false evidence at a hearing.

Tmp = tampering with records (slightly distinct from forgery).

 

Table 2. Variation in Types of Offenses (Annual Percentages).

Year

Coll

Copy

Crib

Fals

Forg

Fraud

Plag

Plag(I)

Rgr

ET

Sell

FE

Tmp

95-96

14

14

14

9

5

0

34

11

0

0

0

0

0

96-97

6

15

6

8

10

1

36

14

0

4

0

0

0

97-98

9

15

5

9

5

0

42

15

0

0

0

0

0

98-99

12

19

8

10

5

1

24

20

0

1

0

0

0

99-00

7

11

7

26

4

0

24

17

0

0

2

1

1

00-01

14

6

2

29

4

0

15

25

1

1

2

0

0

01-02

5

17

4

17

1

0

19

33

1

1

5

0

0

 

            The numbers of cases per year are small, but some trends are apparent.  The 2001-2002 Academic Year saw a small increase in cases involving the selling of exams.  Most of these cases grew out of a single incident involving inadequate security in exam photocopying.  The student “ringleaders” were expelled and the affected department advised to change its exam preparation procedures.

            Plagiarism from the Internet also increased, and disturbingly, this appears to be part of a general trend in education.  It has been argued in some public forums that students consider Internet sources to be “public information” and that such sources do not require citation.  We find this argument specious.  Most cases do not involve failure to cite sources, but rather verbatim copying and paraphrasing.  In conversations with students involved in these cases, most acknowledge that they knew what they were doing was wrong, but they did not think they would get caught.  It is interesting to note that increasing incidence of Internet-related plagiarism tracks a parallel decrease in non-Internet-related plagiarism.  The most parsimonious interpretation of these data is students inclined to cheat by plagiarizing are increasingly resorting to electronic texts rather than print media.  Increasing faculty awareness of and access to plagiarism detection software (e.g., Plagiarism.org, Turnitin.com) will help to suppress this problem in the future.

            The 2000-2001 saw a marked decrease in reported falsification of documents, such as lab data and assignments submitted for re-grading.  Most previous cases in this category originated in exercises related to a particular Astronomy class.  The decrease in this category of accusation is due to the proactive efforts the instructors of this class made to emphasize the integrity of scientific observations.

            Instances of forgery of physicians’ notes, signatures, transcripts and other documents also decreased.  This appears to be a culmination of a long-term trend.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that faculty are being more vigilant about checking excuses, but decreased vigilance in checking excuses could produce the same pattern in the data.

 

Summary

            All in all, 2001-2002 was a good year for the AJC.  Aided by the staff of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, particularly Donna Di Donato and Diane West, the committee’s operations function smoothly.  There is a strong spirit of camaraderie among committee members, and we are attracting increasing numbers of outstanding undergraduates to serve on hearing boards.  We now have a general set of guidelines for assigning penalties to particular categories of offenses.  This has aided the discussion of penalties in hearing boards.

            Areas in which we hope to make progress in the 2002-2003 academic year include the following:

            Faculty outreach.  Many faculty remain either unaware of the necessity of reporting suspected cases of academic dishonesty to the AJC.  We suspect this problem may be more acute among the increasing number of adjunct and part-time faculty.  It is important the faculty understand that reporting suspected offenses to the AJC is an obligation of their job, that it protects them from legal exposure, and that it secures students’ fundamental right to a hearing of charges leveled against them.

            Academic Integrity Survey.  Maria Drueckhammer is exploring the possibility of conducting a survey on academic integrity issues developed by Donald McCabe of Rutgers University.  This self-reporting survey has been already been carried out at a wide range of institutions.  The results of this survey would allow us to assess the degree to which attitudes towards academic integrity issues at Stony Brook University parallel (or differ from) those at comparable universities.