HCRC formulates plan to change Honor Code

Honor Code Review Committee seeks to gather faculty and student input

November 9, 2011

Part of a series on Honor Code Review

The Honor Code Review Committee (HCRC) is preparing to survey students and faculty and gather opinions at public events winter term.

Last year, the Academic Standing Committee charged the HCRC, made up of four students and four faculty members, with gathering facts to assess the effectiveness of the Code and proposing changes to the Code.

The committee plans to look at “how well the Honor Code functions in fostering an environment of academic integrity,” Associate Professor of Philosophy William Young said. Young is a member of the committee and an Honor Board member.

“We’re not arriving with an agenda … we’re really acting as a sounding board for the community,” he said.

According to HCRC Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematics Mary Armon, for some issues the committee needs a random sample, but at the same time wants to give everyone an opportunity to give input.

Surveys of random students will be one of the main ways the committee will obtain a random sample. The committee is in the process of formulating these surveys and deciding how they will be distributed. Faculty will be surveyed as well.

The committee is basing the surveys off guidelines from the Center for Academic Integrity (CAI), of which Knox is a member.

“[We’re] using their framework, using their materials,” Armon said.

They plan to accomplish their second goal of giving everyone an opportunity to be involved in the process by giving out a more general free-response survey, and/or holding public events, Armon said.

As part of the planning process the committee has also looked at other colleges’ Honor Codes, a survey of students by Honor Board last year and surveys given to students in Freshman Preceptorial. They are looking in the surveys for “sources of students discontent,” according to Armon.

The HCRC also plans to “get in touch with 10 years of former Honor Board co-chairs … [to] get their thoughts on what works and what doesn’t,” Armon said. In addition, they are meeting with the current Honor Board this week.

Although the recent lectures for students and faculty given by Dr. Tricia Bertram, who is the Academic Integrity Coordinator at the University of California at San Diego, were not sponsored by the HCRC, the committee attended both lectures and met with her as a group.

Bertram “noted that [the Code] is stated in rather legalistic language and wondered whether that was best,” Young said. Young also said she wondered whether the Code “allowed the opportunity for an educational experience” by allowing students who had fallen short to correct their behavior.

Armon found the statistics Bertram quoted about students’ understanding of academic integrity to be “eye-opening.” She said faculty members often assume students have the same views as they do, which is not always the case.

The committee also gained insight into the process of gathering information through public forums from Bertram’s lecture. The lack of attendance at the event led the committee to try to “figure out ways to host events that students will actually show up to, because they didn’t show up to this,” Armon said.

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