honorcommittee
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honorcommittee

Course Number: CSC 126, Fall 2009

College/University: Berea

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Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity Submitted to the Executive Council February 15, 2008 Our committee recommends that the campus community should continue the process of exploration and dialogue that would result in a more unified, intentional, and educative policy promoting the core academic and personal values of integrity and civility. Such policies are sometimes...

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of Report the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity Submitted to the Executive Council February 15, 2008 Our committee recommends that the campus community should continue the process of exploration and dialogue that would result in a more unified, intentional, and educative policy promoting the core academic and personal values of integrity and civility. Such policies are sometimes referred to as honor codes, and one possiblebut not inevitableoutcome of the process recommended here is the establishment of an honor code appropriate to the distinctive institutional character of Berea College. Whatever the name or shape of the policy that results from the proposed process, the process itself cannot but raise the profile of these important issues and create increased opportunity for discussion among and between faculty members and students. This recommendation results from our work on the four aspects of the charge we received from Executive Council at the request of the Student Admissions and Academic Standing Committee (SAAS) and the Academic Program Council (APC). Our charge follows, with its four parts numbered in no particular order of importance or priority: [Part 1] To examine the national literature and benchmark institutional practices concerning: the definitions of inappropriate and disruptive student classroom behavior and academic dishonesty approaches to discouraging and monitoring inappropriate and disruptive student classroom behavior and academic dishonesty approaches to promoting academic integrity and instituting and maintaining a student honor code [Part 2] To review Berea Colleges current policies concerning: how we discourage and monitor inappropriate and disruptive student behavior in the student life area of the College any possible classroom application of current rules from the Student Conduct Code academic dishonesty, with the goal of finding a clear articulation of what is meant by academic dishonesty and within the broader context of academic integrity [Part 3] To develop a proposal for official policy that would: define inappropriate and disruptive classroom behavior identify procedures and practices that discourage inappropriate and disruptive classroom behavior outline judicial procedures for dealing with incidents of inappropriate and disruptive classroom include guidelines for faculty members to utilize in the preparation of course syllabi regarding inappropriate and disruptive student classroom behavior include possible revision of our current policy concerning academic dishonesty, including a clearly articulated definition of academic dishonesty that deals with plagiarism, cheating, and other acts of academic dishonesty [Part 4] To explore the possibility of instituting a student honor code, and if a positive recommendation is made regarding such a code, to develop a proposal that would: be appropriate to Berea College define the code, including procedures and practices that will promote student adherence to the code outline judicial procedures for dealing with violations of the code A small group was charged in Spring 2007 to investigate academic dishonesty and classroom conduct at Berea. Members of this committee are John Carlevale, Margaret Dotson, Gus Gerassimides, Anita (Beth) Coleman, and Katrina Rivers Thompson. Two other student life staff members, Debbi McIntosh and Leigh Bartles, contributed at the beginning. Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity 2 The committee met regularly through the Fall 2007 term and completed parts 1 and 2 of our charge. We came to believe Part 4 of the charge was the most important charge and consequently will be discussed in more detail below. Part 3 may follow from future action on part 4, but did not seem appropriate for a small group to tackle. During the term, the committee consulted with various College faculty members and staff: Janice Blythe, Chris Lakes, Judith Weckman, Carolyn Newton, Stephanie Browner, Roy Scudder-Davis, and the SAAS Committee. One member attended a national conference on academic integrity. Part 1 of the Charge: Examination of National Literature and Benchmark Institutional Practices. We reviewed an extensive array of literature on academic dishonesty, academic integrity, honor codes and classroom civility/conduct. We reviewed the policies at 10 Berea benchmark institutions, several other well-known institutions, and the work of the Center for Academic Integrity. This review resulted in various distinctions between academic honor codes and academic integrity. (Any individual or committee picking up where we leave off could benefit from the bibliography that we submitted to Executive Council along with this report.) Our reading revealed that one organization in particular, the Center for Academic Integrity (CAI), and the scholars associated with it have generated both a body of research and a record of helping colleges and universities to develop and implement academic integrity policies. Founded in 1992, the CAI is now headquartered at Clemson University and claims 360 institutional members, including Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Stanford University, and Princeton University. Several of Bereas benchmark institutions are members as well: Colorado College, Denison University, the College of Wooster, Albion College, Kalamazoo College, Lawrence University, Carleton College, Macalester College, and Saint Olaf College. In October 2007, one member of our committee attended the annual meeting of the CAI and found an impressive degree of satisfaction and enthusiasm among the representatives of CAI member institutions. Talking with others who had developed and implemented honor codes made clear that the process needs considerable time to unfold, in some cases as long as three years. Part 2 of Charge: Review of College Policy. The committee attempted to review all College documents relating to student conduct and academic honesty. We found a widely dispersed and sometimes confusing array of dos and donts from the following sources: the College Catalogue, Student Handbook, Labor Handbook, Residence Guide, convocation rules, Advisors Handbook, Student Planner, Faculty Manual, and Learning Center materials. We also reviewed Bereas Great Commitments, the Habits of Mind from the Aims of General Education, and the Being and Becoming learning goals. In addition, we made a cursory review of campus-wide syllabi from Spring 2007. These documents could be used as guides for principles of academic integrity, but there is no consistency in content. The committee concluded that the current policies do not bring a cohesive, clear, focused, and visible application of the Berea way of living to academics, student life, and labor. Part 3 of Charge: Development of Proposed Official Policies on Disruptive Classroom Behavior and Academy Dishonesty. At the beginning of the committees work, we were often tempted to recommend specific changes or additions to existing policy, especially as we encountered policies and practices at other institutions that seemed in some way superior to our own. However, we resisted this temptation on the grounds that, without the context of a more comprehensive, consistent, and principled academic integrity policy, it does not seem defensible for a relatively small and perhaps unrepresentative committee to propose rules and regulations about student conduct in academic situations. Policies Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity 3 dealing with specific offenses are best formulated in the light of general principles and values known to and, to the extent possible, endorsed by all. At the present time, the College lacks such a statement of general principles of academic integrity and civility. There are existing protocols, particularly concerning student conduct (Handbook) in residences and in the Labor Program, which may lend themselves to revision and integration into a code derived from general principles. Our review of literature convinced us that this facet of our charge should not be pursued until the process recommended in response to the fourth part of our charge is well underway. We agree that there are gaps in policies that provide little or no recourse or guidance to various constituencies in the educational process such as the Associate Provost for Advising and Academic Success, the SAAS committee, junior faculty, and non-offending students. We note that the mutual rights and responsibilities of faculty and students are not spelled out in any official College document, nor is there a protocol for dealing with breaches of classroom civility. These matters, we believe, can be addressed most effectively when they are considered in the light of principles expressed in a comprehensive policy of academic integrity that is the common property of Berea College faculty and students. Part 4 of Charge: Exploration of the Possibility of Instituting a Student Honor Code. This aspect of our charge assumed greater importance as our work progressed because it soon became clear to us that the discussion of an honor codehowever defined and structuredprovides the opportunity for discovering, publicizing, and promoting the values of academic integrity and civility. We believe that campus-wide deliberation about the advantages and drawbacks of an honor code is the best way to avoid a negative and reactive enforcement approach to honesty and civility. In theory and often in practice, honor codes seek student ownership of and participation in the essential values that enable academic inquiry; they invite students to assume responsibility rather than merely to obey. In our work as it committee, took some time to think beyond reactive concerns about rights, protocols, and punishments. Eventually, through our research and discussion, we came to prefer a proactive approach to academic integrity, one that attempts both to make honesty and civility a part of the Colleges metacurriculum and to make student partners and fellow-learners. We are confident that our colleagues, when given the chance to consider the issue, will arrive at a similar conclusion. We recommend that a larger committee more broadly representative of stakeholding groups continue to work toward drafting, discussing, and building consensus for a comprehensive academic integrity policy and/or honor code. Such a group should include representatives of the academic administration, disciplinary divisions of the faculty, rank and status within the faculty, student government, the Learning Center, the Library, Student Life, and Labor. Instead of recommending ad hoc alteration to existing policy, we are suggesting the initiation of a process whereby the College, through the work of the proposed committee, 1. identifies the values implicit in its current practices, policies, and documents (metacurriculum), 2. articulates them into a set of explicit guiding principles, 3. formulates specific policies in light of these general principles, and 4. implements the policies through procedures consistent with the principles. The outcome of this process would be a more unified umbrella policy of academic integrity that could take the form of a traditional honor code or a modified honor code as defined in the national literature. (Traditional honor codes have at least two and usually three of the following characteristics: unproctored exams, pledges, significant student involvement in adjudication, and non-toleration policies. Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity 4 Modified honor codes may have as few as one of these features.) Honor codes vary depending on the nature and mission of the institution. In addition to spelling out the ideals and expectations of an academic community, honor codes can contribute to the development of personal dispositions of ethical behavior that carry over into personal and professional lives beyond college. We have every reason both to hope for and to work towards an academic integrity policy that is an educational tool rather than a penal code. Other institutions that have engaged in this work have found the following best practices helpful: membership in the CAI use of assessment materials and assistance from the CAI larger study committee with representation by all campus constituentsespecially students student government involvement campus-wide dialogue involving faculty, staff, and students involvement of residential and student life surveys to gauge faculty and student opinion and perceptions focus group discussions among and between students and faculty members to gather information, air concerns, promote exchange, and build consensus faculty development on (1) fostering academic integrity and academic honesty and (2) responding to academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and inappropriate classroom conduct We recommend all of the above measures be undertaken as part of a process leading to a comprehensive academic integrity policy. In addition to these measures, the proposed committee should consult and coordinate with those concerned with the First-Year Initiative and BC 101. Another important part of the committees work would be to explore whether Bereas students and teaching faculty are willing and ready to become full partners in the pursuit of academic integrity and civility. As data and levels of participation begin to answer this question, appropriate policy directions will begin to emerge. If, for example, students show enthusiasm for assuming a greater role in adjudicating alleged violations, it may be that Student Judicial Code should be revised to incorporate this and other features of an honor code. Low levels of student interest and participation in the committees work would imply that the academic culture of Berea may be unsuited to an honor code, and that existing policies need little major modification apart from tweaking definitions of key terms like plagiarism, clarifying the protocols for dealing with cases of disruptive student behavior, and conducting faculty development to raise awareness and confidence among those who will be primarily responsible for communicating (and enforcing) the Colleges commitment to academic integrity. Any comprehensive policy laying claim to student and faculty buy-in has to be specific to Berea College and must mesh with the institutional vision, as exemplified in the Great Commitments, Being and Becoming, and the Aims of General Education. Realizing these desiderata requires neither the importation of values alien to Berea nor a prolonged process of institutional introspection. In large measure, the values of academic integrityhonesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibilityare already present in published College documents. For example, the following comparison of language from a CAI statement and Berea Colleges Student Conduct Regulations reveals the extensive overlap between the values of the national academic integrity movement and the way of living for students at Berea College inspired by the Great Commitments: Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity 5 Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity Berea College Student Conduct Regulations: A Way of Living for Students at Berea College from the Student Handbook Center for Academic Integrity from the Centers Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (see www.academicintegrity.org) Honesty [Every student is expected] to practice and promote in others personal integrity and honesty. Trust [Every student is expected] to practice and promote in others mutual trust as a foundation of community life. An academic community of integrity advances the quest for truth by requiring intellectual and personal honesty in learning, teaching, research, and service. An academic community of integrity fosters a climate of mutual trust, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and enables all to reach their highest potential. An academic community of integrity establishes clear standards, practices, and procedures and expects fairness in the interactions of students, faculty, and administrators. An academic community of integrity recognizes the participatory nature of the learning process and honors and respects a wide range of opinions and ideas. An academic community of integrity upholds personal accountability and depends upon action in the face of wrongdoing. (Not addressed specifically in Student Conduct Regulations.) Fairness [Every student is expected] to practice and promote responsible, respectful inquiry and expression of ideas, whether by individuals, groups, or Berea College. We [members of the campus community] affirm that personal responsibility and selfdetermination are essential for developing physical, intellectual, spiritual, social and emotional wholeness as individuals. Commitment to these values means that individuals enjoy broad areas of self-determination and personal choice so long as ones actions do not infringe upon the rights of others within the context of this community. Respect Responsibility To a considerable degree, CAIs values are already the values of the Berea College community. What remains to be done is to explore how the general values we already affirm applyin principle and Report of the ad hoc Committee on Student Classroom Behavior and Academic Integrity 6 procedureto specifically academic situations. Moreover, it is the differences between CAI expressed values and Bereas that require the most investigation and discussion. One such difference is the emphasis on mutuality in the CAI statement: faculty members do not impose regulations on students so much as they hold students to the same standards that they demand of themselves. By contrast, the Berea document tends to demand certain behaviors from students in a peremptory manner. Moral clarity is purchased at the expense of a sense of a shared endorsement of values equally binding upon all members of the community regardless of status. Given this difference in tone, it is only natural that the value of fairness is conspicuously absent from the Colleges regulations, which sometimes read as commandments handed down from on high rather than as values to which one makes an implicit contract by joining the community. The process that we recommend would seek to make explicit the implicit values of Berea academic community so that all members of the community may, if they choose, give their informed consent to them and, in so doing, assume the responsibilities that the values entail. In conclusion, our committee recommends that the campus community should continue the process of exploration and dialogue that would result in a more unified, intentional, and educative policy promoting the core academic and personal values of integrity and civility. Under the aegis of the values of a comprehensive academic integrity policy, existing guidelines and policies ought to be reviewed, adapted, revised, and bound more closely to the way of living derived from Bereas Great Commitments. It remains to be discovered whether the campus community would endorse such a move. Our committee, at least, is convinced that it would be an improvement on the current situation. NOTE: The bibliography mentioned on page 2 of this report may be found in the Faculty Meetings Public Folder in Microsoft Outlook under November 16, 2008 Faculty Meeting Agenda.
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