Campus / Honor Code Review / News / May 3, 2012

HCRC presents findings to few

The Honor Code Review Committee (HCRC) presented results from their survey, but not recommendations, to both faculty and students in separate meetings this past week.

The student meeting on Wednesday, attended by three students, included student and faculty perceptions of cheating, frequency of various forms of cheating and concerns students and faculty have about the system.

The presentation by Knox’s Director of Assessment Leah Adams-Curtis conveyed “moderate support for the Honor Code overall,” in her words, although “students overall have a more positive view than faculty do” of both the effectiveness of the Code and students’ behavior.

The committee also looked for common themes in answers to free-response questions in the online survey. Themes in student responses included student reporting of violations, a lack of specific instructions from faculty and a lack of understanding and “buy-in” from students.

These concerns and more were discussed in a discussion after the presentation. Students and committee members expressed concern at variation between what faculty members would bring to the Honor Board and what they would handle on their own.

“There has to be a more common understanding,” HCRC chair Mary Armon said.

Students were generally not surprised at the survey findings, although some things, such as the prevalence of cheating, were unexpected. One of the main topics of discussion was whether students should be responsible for reporting violations. Anonymous reporting was brought up as an option, but students expressed concern about students abusing this method.

“It’s a difficult median to reach,” Honor Board and HCRC member junior Charlotte Young said.

Adams-Curtis also presented faculty concerns such as a “graduated approach” to penalties and requiring the inclusion of academic integrity on course syllabi.

Although “faculty perceive cheating — all forms — as more serious than students do,” Adams-Curtis said, she noted several large discrepancies between student and faculty perceptions of the severity of various forms of cheating. The biggest of these was “working on an assignment with others when the instructor asked for individual work,” which students said was trivial, while faculty said it was serious.

The report included information about what behaviors students reported engaging in, with 55 percent of students having engaged in behavior that faculty rated as serious. Thirty-one percent of students have never cheated, six percent have cheated in 10 or more ways and the remaining 63 percent were in between. It is this 63 percent that the committee will focus on.

“While I’m a firm believer in redemption … don’t expect it,” Adams-Curtis said of the students who have cheated 10 or more times, saying those students who are honest are likely to remain that way as well.

The most common forms of cheating were taking more time on an exam and working with other students on an assignment where the professor asked for individual work. In comparing which behaviors students rated as serious cheating with those they had engaged in, it was found that “people who cheat tend not to view their behavior as serious,” Adams-Curtis said.

Adams-Curtis ended on an encouraging note, saying that 26 percent of students cheated in one to three ways but each one only once.

“If you want to be conducting your affairs well, then we can work with you,” she said.

Gretchen Walljasper

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