How are cases of academic misconduct handled?
The Student Code of Conduct establishes two methods for resolving a report of academic misconduct. Faculty may either submit a report to the Office of Student Integrity (OSI), which will lead to the case being resolved either by an administrator in OSI or the Student Honor Committee, or by utilizing the Faculty Conference Resolution option covered in D.5.c of the Code of Conduct. It is important to note that even if you elect to utilize the Faculty Conference Resolution option, you are required to report the outcome of that process to OSI. This allows cases involving students who have previously been found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct to be handled properly. This also ensures that if the student is ever involved in a future case, that information will be available. It is recommended that when using the Faculty Conference Resolution option you invite a represtative from OSI to attend the meeting to help ensure that the proper process is followed.
What is the Honor Committee?
The Honor Committee is a group of faculty and students that hears select academic cases. The total committee consists of 12 faculty members from across Georgia Tech elected to three-year terms and nine students (six undergraduates and three graduates) appointed to one-year terms. The committee membership can be found on the Faculty Governance website. When an individual case is being heard, however, there are three faculty members and two students who serve as the case's hearing panel. The Honor Committee makes a decision on whether the student is responsible, and if so determines the sanctions and supplementary requirements the student will face.
What actions can I take to prevent academic misconduct in my classes?
First, be sure that your course policy document makes clear what your expectations are. Many cases of academic misconduct arise because students are unclear of faculty expectations. The Honor Advisory Council has prepared a syllabus checklist to help you prepare for the semester.
Second, take the time to set the tone with your students at the beginning of the semester. Don't brush over academic integrity by saying "...and don't violate the Honor Code." Our Honor Code doesn't spell out detailed infractions; rather, the Student Code of Conduct establishes the rules students must follow, but these rules only work if faculty make clear how the rule applies to their courses. For instance, there is no universal prohibition against students working collaboratively. You must specify which assignments must be done independently and which can be done in groups. Students who understand your expectations are more likely to abide by them. You may consider reminding students of the Honor Code by including the Challenge Statement "I commit to uphold the ideals of honor and integrity by refusing to betray the trust bestowed upon me as a member of the Georgia Tech community." on your tests and quizzes.
Finally, create an environment that does not facilitate academic misconduct. During tests and quizzes, ensure that students backpacks are closed and under their desks. Ask students to remove or turn around baseball caps during exams. Write new tests each term so that students cannot gain an unfair advantage by having access to previous tests. Post your old tests online or placing them on reserve at the Library; students find this an invaluable study resource, and it ensures that all students have access.
What can happen to a student who engages in academic misconduct?
Each case is considered independently while striving for long-term consistency and factoring in each case's individual nuances. There are three general areas of repercussions that students will face. First is the sanction, which can be Disciplinary Warning, Disciplinary Probation, Suspension, Suspension Held in Abeyance, or Expulsion. These affect the student's overall status with the Institute. Most first offenses do not result in the student being suspended or expelled. Disciplinary Probation is the predominant sanction on first offenses. Subsequent offenses will result in Suspension or Expulsion. The second area is the grade impact. As examples, a student may face a grade reduction by a certain percentage, a grade reduction by a letter grade, or a failing grade in the course. The input of the faculty member can be particularly valuable here, as it helps OSI understand how grades will be assigned in the course. The final area is the educational component, which is most commonly participation in an Ethics Seminar conducted by the Honor Advisory Council or a paper on ethics and integrity. Consult the Academic Sanctioning Guideline for more details.
What standard of evidence is used in academic misconduct cases at Georgia Tech?
Georgia Tech requires that a case be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, more commonly known as the "more likely than not" standard of proof.
For more information, refer to the OSI Faculty FAQ page.