The Baruch College Faculty Handbook

Academic Integrity at Baruch College: Summary for Faculty

This page was last updated on October 6, 2011

More than 50% of college students in the U.S. report that they have recently committed acts of academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism. The best way to prevent such dishonesty is through clear communication and dialogue: faculty members should define what we mean by academic dishonesty and explain that dishonesty is antithetical to learning and unacceptable in our classrooms. Such messages should be reinforced throughout the semester and throughout the college community.

Syllabus and Discussion best practices

The academic integrity committee urges members of the faculty to include a syllabus item that underscores the importance of academic honesty, outlines the penalties for dishonesty, and makes clear that acts of dishonesty will be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students.

Discussing the syllabus item early in the semester (with later reminders) provides important reinforcement. Although ignorance of our rules is not a legitimate excuse, many college students are indeed ignorant of the cultural norms of American classrooms especially on the most culturally diverse campus in the nation, with students from more than 100 countries. Clear definitions of cheating and plagiarism (contained in the college's Academic Honesty statement) can be very helpful, as can explanation of the seriousness of academic integrity and the consequences of violating it.

  • Baruch's online plagiarism tutorial provides explanations, exercises, and examples. A self-test associated with the tutorial is available via Blackboard. To import the self-test into your class Blackboard site, contact Prof. Aisha Peña (Library) at 646-312-1611 or Aisha.Peña@baruch.cuny.edu

  • Working with members of individual departments to develop additional tutorials is an ongoing project of the academic integrity committee.

Baruch College Policies

Our policies and step-by-step procedures are articulated in the Faculty Guide to Student Academic Integrity. (You might also like to refer to CUNY's Academic Integrity Policy, as revised July 2011.) Baruch's two key principles are that faculty members are responsible for grades and that all cases should be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students:  

1. Faculty members are responsible for grades.   

  • The instructor brings the alleged act of academic dishonesty to the attention of the student as soon as possible.
  • If the student admits to the act of academic dishonesty, the instructor is entitled to give him/her an F for the assignment/exam or for the course itself. Potential penalties should be stated on the syllabus and reiterated in class.
  • If the student disputes the accusation, s/he may appeal to Ron Aaron (646-312-4577) in the Office of the Dean of Students.
  • If there is an appeal, until it is resolved the final grade should be a PEN (meaning "pending"), with the word purposeful in the Comments column. Please note that use of the PEN grade is limited to academic integrity cases.
  • While students often dispute accusations initially, they usually confess within a few weeks--these issues tend to be resolved quickly. Students are entitled to due process, but cases very rarely move as far as a hearing only one or two cases (of hundreds) per year.
  • In light of CUNY policies that permit students to retake and expunge from their GPA several courses they have failed, some members of the faculty prefer to award a grade of D.  

2. All cases should be reported.                     

  • The purpose of reporting is not punitive, although in some cases punishment, including suspension or expulsion, may follow. The purpose is educative, and it seems to work: very few students have been caught more than once. Obviously, reporting is key to the process, so that a student cannot falsely claim never to have cheated or plagiarized before.
  • Accusations and resolutions should be reported as soon as possible to Ron Aaron (Box B2-255) using the Faculty Report Form: online version  or the  printable/paper version.

Discouraging cheating during exams (also see Exam Proctoring webpage)

  • Announce policies and procedures in classes before the exam and reiterate them at the exam.
  • Proctor carefully and make sure any assistants know the rules and procedures.
  • Forbid use of any electronic devices, including cell phones.
  • Ask students to use the restrooms before the exam begins.
  • Seat students apart (when possible).
  • Issue multiple versions of exams. The exams can have the same questions in different order, or, if multiple choice, with only the choices scrambled. Consider using different colored paper for the different versions, allowing you to see if students next to each other have the same exam. (Alternatively, exams of the same color make it impossible for students to know who else has the version they have.)
  • Do not recycle exams from class to class, semester to semester, year to year. (Some student groups maintain files.).
  • If you use blue books, hand out only as many as needed and be sure to collect extras. (Students have been known to take extras home and write in them as preparation for other exams.) Mark your blue books inconspicuously so that a student cannot turn in a blue book he or she brought to the exam.  

Discouraging plagiarism (also see Plagiarism webpage)

  • Define plagiarism clearly and clearly convey that you will not tolerate it. The relevant sections in the College's writing handbook may be helpful: Fowler and Aaron, The Little, Brown Handbook, pp. 629-38. Students who entered as freshmen before September 2007 used Ann Raimes, Keys for Writers: 4th edition--pp. 116-128; 3rd edition--pp. 104-112.
  • As mentioned above, Baruch's online plagiarism tutorial provides explanations, exercises, and examples.
  • Create writing assignments that require students to synthesize materials from different sources (compare/contrast) or to use materials discussed/provided in class.
  • When students have handed in written work such as a substantial paper, ask them to write a summary in class of its main points and how they made them.
  • Baruch College subscribes to Turnitin.com, an online database that vets papers for plagiarism. To learn how to gain access to this service and for suggestions about how to use it, contact Prof. Gerard Dalgish: 646-312-3919.

Additional Information
The College's Academic Integrity homepage provides a good deal of additional information, including links to other sites of possible interest:
http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/facultyhandbook/AcademicIntegrity.htm

CUNY's Academic Integrity Policy, revised Fall 2011: PDF File

Comments/Questions
This summary was prepared by Associate Provost Dennis Slavin, with the assistance of members of the college's academic integrity committee. Please feel free to suggest changes for the next version.