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Penn State Academic Integrity Policy Nears Overhaul

Major changes to how the university deals with academic integrity are in their final stages following a year-long review by an assigned task force.

The task force, which was commissioned by Penn State provost Nicholas Jones in April 2017, issued 10 recommendations to the university on how to change the policy:

  • Establish an academic integrity office.
  • Create an adjudication committee composed of faculty and students from all academic integrity committees, the university faculty senate, and other interested faculty and students.
  • Identify an individual with sufficient academic experience from each campus, college, and DUS to serve as an academic integrity liaison.
  • Move to a universal online case management system.
  • Create a system that can manage academic misconduct allegations when someone other than a faculty member reports misconduct.
  • Create an online repository of educational materials that faculty and students can use to learn about academic integrity misconduct.
  • Create new academic sanctions, which could be applied concurrently with other academic sanctions.
  • Further explore other options to protect against academic integrity.
  • Establish an implementation team to put these recommendations into play.
  • Review progress with the academic integrity committee after five years.

The recommendations come from the determination that current policies regarding academic integrity, which were put into place in 2001, are outdated. Advances in technology have made it more difficult to manage cheating, while a review of Big Ten peers shows that Penn State hasn’t kept up to pace with these changing times.

“Previously, violations of academic integrity most often involved a student copying from another student on an exam or a student submitting another student’s work as their own,” the report reads.

“The dramatic rise of online sites, companies, and resources that promote fake “tutoring” and imposter (“ghost”) students, exam-sharing applications, and other technology-driven mechanisms that strike at the heart of our educational processes and values, have changed the educational landscape…”

A big issue with the current system is that faculty members play a huge role in the academic integrity disciplinary process, varying the results of individual cases. The specifics behind the disciplinary process also varied by campus/college.

The goal of the changes is to bring the process up to speed by creating a more uniform process, while also bringing more resources to the table to address violations. The onus in most cases would still be on educators to report violations, but these extra resources would deal with the latter portions of the disciplinary process.

Provost Jones accepted the recommendations and the university is in the process of forming an implementation team.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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