Teaching Essentials

Finding Resolution

Once verified, finding resolution to academic misconduct needs to be handled with care. The following information supports instructors with resolving incidents of academic misconduct. If the academic misconduct is repeated and egregious, seek support from leadership within the department or school. The Academic Integrity Specialist can also support you and provide individualized guidance in finding resolution.

Determining Next Steps

The process of gathering and documenting evidence of academic misconduct is a critical part of demonstrating with all probability that academic misconduct has occurred. Instructors should consult with their Program Coordinator, Academic Manager or direct supervisor for support on how to proceed. Additionally, faculty can book a consultation with the Academic Integrity Specialist for guidance.

Educational Interventions

In some cases a concern about academic misconduct is due to lack of academic skills or poor understanding of the assignment. Students need time and support before accurately demonstrating academic expectations. If the incident provides a clear learning opportunity, the instructor may be able to facilitate an educational intervention.

Situations that are suited to an educational intervention:

  • The potential misconduct is minor and does not affect the overall integrity of the assignment.
  • The concern represents a lack of skill, remedied with minimal support.
  • The concern does not affect the ability to assess the student’s knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • The student is unaware of the issue and receptive to making improvements.
  • The student has not shown any previous academic misconduct concerns.

Significant Incidents

In other cases, academic misconduct significantly affects the integrity of a student’s work. Following through with an academic misconduct report is an important step in upholding the academic integrity of Red River College Polytechnic. Reporting also signals that academic integrity matters.

Situations that require an academic misconduct report:

  • The concern affects the overall integrity of the assignment.
  • The concern encompasses the bulk of the assignment and cannot be remedied with a support session.
  • The concern represents a skill set that the student should be expected to demonstrate, based on previous training within RRC Polytech.
  • The concern may be the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive.
  • The submitted work does not demonstrate the student’s knowledge, skills and abilities (i.e., it demonstrates someone else’s knowledge, skills and abilities).

Review the sample case studies below outlining three different approaches to scenarios with differing levels of severity to learn more about different approaches in action.

Reporting Academic Misconduct

If filing an academic misconduct report is the next step, use the “Academic Misconduct eForm” available in the Maestro section on HUB. The reporting form requires a narrative of the circumstances with an opportunity to upload supporting evidence. Submitting a Maestro form notifies the Chair of the incident, sends a letter to the student and creates an internal record. The instance is not noted on a student transcript.

Sanctions/consequences recommended in the S4 Academic Integrity Policy include:

  • self-reflection on the incident in question
  • opportunity to redo and re-submit the academic work in question (Program directives regarding late submissions may apply)
  • lowered grade on the academic work in question
  • zero grade on the academic work in question
  • any other appropriate action including a Chair’s recommendation for failure in the course

Handle with Care

Responding to academic misconduct can be an emotional and stressful experience for faculty and students. The best outcomes provide an opportunity for a student to move forward and continue with their learning, whenever possible.

Follow these steps to help students improve after an incident of academic misconduct:

  • Provide course relevant resources to support student learning.
  • Refer to the Academic Success Centre for tutoring, academic coaching, and English as an Additional Language support.
  • Welcome students back into the learning space. Negativity or reminders of past incidents make it difficult for learning to continue.
  • Respect students’ privacy by not sharing their situation unnecessarily with other instructors.
  • When hearing that a student was previously documented for academic misconduct in another class, do not assume that the same will happen in a new class. Allow students an opportunity for a fresh start.

Academic Integrity Appeals

The S3 Student Appeals Policy outlines the circumstances under which a student can appeal an academic misconduct report. If the student disagrees with the report and meets the criteria for initiating an appeal, they must file within five working days of receiving the report.

Sample Case Studies

Some situations of potential academic misconduct benefit from an educational intervention, while others require a formal Maestro report for significant academic consequences. The following information provides examples of how instructors might navigate different situations.

Citation Fixation

An instructor is marking an assignment from a student in a first-year course who included a reference list but no in-text citations. This made it hard to know which ideas came from the student and which ideas came from the sources in the reference list.

When the instructor asked the student about the missing in-text citations, the student replied saying they did not know about in-text citations or how they worked. Although the instructor told the students to use APA format and the rubric allotted 5% to referencing, the course does not include instruction on APA.

The instructor told the student to highlight each item in the reference list with a different colour. Then, highlight the ideas connected to each reference in the assignment with the corresponding colour. The instructor met with the student to explain how in-text citations tell the reader where the ideas came from. With ideas and references already matched up, the student could apply the format for in-text citations.

The instructor accepted a re-submission of the assignment, deducting the late penalty and half the rubric marks allotted for referencing (2.5%). The student learned the appropriate way to use in-text citations and demonstrated this skill on the next assignment in the course.

In this case, an educational intervention was more appropriate than filing a Maestro report.

Contract Cheating

An instructor is marking a final project on a local business from a student nearing graduation. The project read very well with excellent ideas, resources, graphs and references. Halfway through, the project described landscaping with palm trees; definitely not a local business.

The instructor met with the student and asked questions about using palm trees in Manitoba. The student remained quiet and could not answer any of the questions. Finally, the student apologized and said they paid a writer to complete the project. The student explained feeling very stressed with school on top of work and issues at home.

The instructor felt disappointed that the student chose this path. The instructor could not assess their learning because the student did not write the text. As a student nearing graduation, they had received instruction on report writing and knew the expectations for the final project. In this case, the student submitted someone else’s work, which is contract cheating.

The instructor filed a Maestro report and the student received a mark of “0” for the assignment.

Unauthorized Collaboration

While marking assignments, an instructor found two identical submissions. The metadata on both files showed Student A as the file author. Student A submitted their assignment early, and Student B submitted afterwards, right at the deadline.

The instructor met each student individually. A confused Student A explained they worked alone on the project. However, Student A did email the final copy as a sample to help Student B. At this realization, Student A became uncomfortable, adding they did not know what happened after that. The instructor reminded Student A they were not to share their work with other students.

Student B told the instructor, “What a coincidence. I guess great minds think alike.”

Although Student B did not admit to taking the assignment and Student A seemed confused, the instructor determined (based on the balance of probability) that Student B submitted a copy of Student A’s assignment. The instructor had told the class to protect their assignment files, treating their work like trade secrets i.e. no sharing with classmates and no posting online.

The instructor completed a Maestro report for both students. Student B received a mark of “0” for submitting someone else’s assignment and Student A received a 50% deduction for sharing the assignment.