A study of data from the last five years suggests that students found in violation of the university’s academic honesty policy are not likely to violate it a second time. The Office of Student Academic Services, housed in the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, manages reports of alleged violations of the university’s academic honesty policy, A Culture of Honesty.
Implemented in 2000, UGA’s current procedure for handling possible academic dishonesty is a significant revision of the 1997 process. The current policy centers around a model in which the instructor and student meet for a discussion with a trained facilitator in an attempt to reach a resolution.
In accordance with the University System of Georgia Board of Regents’ Records Retention Policy, Student Academic Services maintains the relevant information for reports of alleged dishonesty, including type of violation, department and class standing. Much of this is shared with the UGA community in the annual report presented to the University Council each fall.
A recent analysis looked specifically at alleged second violations or incidences in which students with a previous violation were reported for a suspected second violation. Only reports from 2005 to 2009 were included in the current analysis due to a revision of A Culture of Honesty related to the process for dealing with a second violation approved by the University Council in 2005.
“We now have enough information to have a fuller understanding of the factors that might lead students to commit academic dishonesty,” said Ann Crowther, associate vice president for instruction. “Even more importantly, we can use that information to accomplish our primary goal of educating faculty and students about what it means to be academically honest.”
The most interesting finding was that of nearly 1,700 students reported in a five-year period (approximately 1,100 of those found in violation), only 64 were being reported for the second time. Half of these involved plagiarism, one of the most commonly reported violations. In addition, nearly half of second violations for plagiarism occurred in courses given in the same department in which the first violation occurred, and most took place within one year of the first violation. Ultimately, only 44 students in 1,700 were found in violation a subsequent time. “Students who violate the honesty policy are reminded several times that a second violation generally results in expulsion from the university,” said Debbie Bell, coordinator for academic honesty. “However, we continue to explore methods to stress the importance of not repeating dishonest behavior in hopes of reducing this small percentage of second violators.”