Student cheating cases down slightly, as penalties become more severe
By Colleen MacPherson
In advance of Writing it Right Week, an event later this month designed to draw attention to academic integrity, the University has released a report that shows a slight decline in the number of cases of cheating dealt with this year.
The report, presented Sept. 29 by University Secretary Gordon Barnhart, indicated there were 73 cases of academic dishonesty heard by college faculty panels which found 60 students guilty. The penalties included four suspensions for one term or more and three expulsions. The rest were penalized with failure in the class or a grade reduction.
In 2002-03, panels heard 79 cases and found 67 students guilty.
Barnhart pointed out that, as with last year, about two-thirds of the cases involved plagiarism on essays or assignments. The remainder involved using or passing notes in an exam or submitting the same essay in two different classes.
In some cases, students did not deliberately set out to plagiarize, he said. They simply did not start working early enough or did not leave themselves enough time for research. Then, rather than ask for an extension, they copied material.
Penalties for academic dishonesty are left to the discretion of the faculty committees but the report notes they are becoming increasingly severe.
“Colleges now feel that students who cheat should receive a much greater penalty than students who simply do not turn in an assignment. Therefore, many cases of plagiarized essays receive a mark of zero on the assignment plus an additional percentage off their final grade in the course.”
In professional colleges, first offences can result in even more severe penalties because professional certification or accreditation is involved.
The second annual Writing it Right Week will be held Oct. 18-22 and will include events and discussions about academic integrity meant for both students and faculty. The keynote address – Honest Competition – will be given by Olympic gold medalist Catriona LeMay Doan Oct. 19 at 2:30 in 241 Arts. More information is available at www.usask.ca/honesty/week.shtml.