McCabe and Pavela, in "Some Good News About Academic Integrity" (Change, September/October 2000, pp. 32-38), describe strategies that appear to reduce the incidence of cheating, even on large, public campuses. As you may be aware, cheating is a serious problem in American schools and colleges. According to McCabe and Pavela, effective strategies emphasize "student leadership and intensive programming about the importance of academic integrity" (p. 32). They describe research involving public and private colleges and universities that have enacted modified honor codes, with students working with faculty to reduce cheating, sitting on judicial panels, and educating other students about academic integrity. They conclude that the crucial element is this high level of student involvement in designing, monitoring, and enforcing integrity standards. U.C. Davis has such a program, and their Campus Judicial Board, which resolves contested cases and imposes penalties, includes active participation by student members. They have the authority to help students avoid permanent notation in their records by allowing first offenders opportunities to learn appropriate behaviors and expunge their record, much like a "diversion program" for first-time drug offenders.
McCabe and Pavela suggest the following:
1. Ask students about cheating. Learn what is happening on your campus.
2. Invite students and faculty to set campus policies, perhaps through a formal Academic Integrity Advisory Council. Develop a clear definition of academic dishonesty and communicate it broadly (in orientations, syllabi, lectures, etc.).
3. Allow students to play a major role in adjudicating contested cases.
4. Provide an "academic integrity seminar" to teach first offenders. Successful completion would allow them to cleanse their records (e.g., see "integrity seminar" at http://www.inform.umd.edu/ CampusInfo/Departments/JPO/ethics/). A similar CD-ROM "seminar" is available that students can complete on their own (see the TLC for more information on the Multimedia Integrity Teaching Tool available from Ball State).
5. Encourage students to educate their peers about academic integrity, for example student presentations at new student orientations.
6. "Develop fair, prompt, and efficient due process procedures." These procedures should not be unduly complex and should involve a hearing panel composed mostly of students.
7. Provide support for the process to avoid litigation.
8. Keep faculty and administrators well-informed on what is learned about local academic dishonesty.
9. "Encourage presidential leadership" because presidential support helps focus campus participation.
10. Assess the process to ensure that it accomplishes its stated objectives.TLC 11/00