The Honor Board saw a dramatic rise in the number of cases this past winter term.
According to Associate Dean of the College Lori Schroeder, the Board saw somewhere between 11 and 14 cases this winter term, whereas they only saw two cases fall term, itself a lower than average number. In contrast, the Board saw seven cases in the winter term of 2013 and was met with eight in the fall of 2012. Schroeder said that those numbers reflect the average expectations for what Honor Board would see.
“I’m hoping it’s an anomaly,” Schroeder said of the rise in cases.
Senior Melvin Taylor, who serves as co-chair of the Honor Board, believes that the rise in cases may relate to winter term being a generally difficult time for students.
“Winter term is such a difficult term for a lot of people, and I don’t know if it’s the weather, or just the fact that people kind of get wrapped up in being inside too much, or people just start so overly focusing on a lot of their work that it just tends to lead to decisions that they shouldn’t make sometimes,” Taylor said.
Junior Lissa Mann is the incoming co-chair of the Honor Board and attributes the increase in cases to the possibility of an increased number of faculty members reporting cases to the Honor Board.
“I think that the reason there was an increase is not that there is necessarily an increase in academic malpractice, but an increase in reporting it,” she said. “So to me, that’s a good sign that faculty feels like they can come to the Board rather than dealing with it on their own — that they believe in the system. To me, that’s a vote of confidence.”
Schroeder also noted that there have been common trends in the cases Honor Board saw winter term, and that many of them involved technology. She also mentioned that some of the hearings were for students within the same classes.
Taylor said of the issue of technology and academic integrity, “Well I don’t think that it has been necessarily the key component to it, I do believe that it adds an additional layer that is worth having a discussion about.”
Mann agreed that technology in the classroom may not have been the main contributor to the rise in cases this year, but did note that students having smartphones adds to the temptation to cheat.
“I think that it’s certainly easier for students to cheat because the temptation is there in your pocket. … Everything is there at the tip of your thumb, so I think there is certainly more temptation to cheat. But I don’t know if that has affected this year to year thing.”
Schroeder said that as students have more access to technology, the Honor Code should continue to be updated to make sure it accurately reflects modern times.
“Part of it is just really continuing to make sure that the Code adapts with us,” she said. “So that as we start to see more technology in the classroom we don’t still have this 1950s model of the Honor Code. And I think we’re mostly moving in the right direction on that.”
Taylor mentioned that when he was a freshman in Orientation Week, his entire class had to sign a scroll that confirmed that they agreed to the Honor Code. He said that he would like to see this brought back to campus, as it helped to solidify students’ commitments to academic integrity and to abiding by the rules of the Honor Code.
“It kind of gives you that awareness to know that this isn’t just something I can just blow off, or this isn’t something I can blow over my head, this is really something that I’m committing to by signing this paper,” he said.
Mann agreed that she would like to see this practice return to Orientation Week, as she said it gives students “a form of accountability.”
Schroeder commented that students already agree to the Honor Code while filling out their application to Knox, but said that signing the scroll helps to reinforce its importance.
“I think that’s terrific,” Schroeder said. “That there is a moment where you actually sign. On every application there’s a point where you sign, and that’s not the same thing as doing it when you arrive on campus.”
Mann noted that the Honor Code is appealing to many students as it shows the system of trust and dedication to integrity upheld by the college.
“To me, academic integrity is important because it shows the value of a Knox degree. It means that this degree has been earned by working hard and conducting research and by truly learning and engaging in the community versus taking work here and there. … I think that’s something that makes the Honor Code unique and important to the school.”