By Miriam Kirk
A new protocol on campus this year for dealing with students who cheat will mean better tracking of academic dishonesty on campus.
Last year Lena Welch, dean of the school of arts and sciences, and Tom Middendorf, associate provost and dean of academic affairs, met with faculty who shared a common interest for student learning outcome to discuss additions and changes to the university’s academic honesty policy.
The university has always had a policy that stated academic dishonesty is wrong and that when standards are not met there would be a penalty.
But there was no way of keeping track of each individual offense.
As of Fall 2018, Trevecca is now keeping track of every violation of academic honesty for all students.
Welch advocated for a new policy because there was no way of keeping track of every time a student was violated university policy.
“There is a study that says one-third of students never cheat, one-third of students always cheat, and then one-third will cheat if given the opportunity,” said Welch. “I believe that most students want to be honest, however, there are instances when students are knowingly dishonest and that’s what we are tracking.”
Now every time a student is caught being academically dishonest in a class the faculty member must submit a report of what happened and how it was handled to the dean of the school and from there it goes to the office of the provost.
Middendorf said the policy is in the best interest of students.
“Yes, this change is to keep track of those students who are consistently dishonest but it’s also to protect students who are always honest. It helps us to see whether these are just isolated incidents or if there are deeper issues that need intervention,” he said. “Trevecca is a Christian community and we believe honesty is missional for the moral development of students and honesty in academics is a core component of that. For students to truly be able to learn the work needs to be done by the student.”
The goal of every educational institution is to produce students who know and are capable to do their job well because of what they have learned in the classroom, he said.
Middendorf posed a question.
“Has a student truly learned content in a class if they cheat or have they simply learned to take a short cut?” he asked.
Administrators also hope that the change to the policy will be a deterrent to students if they’re given the opportunity to cheat.
“Tracking a student’s infractions will hopefully keep them from attempting to cheat again, because they’ll know that there will be consequences,” Welch said.
All faculty members were provided a statement from the provost’s office to add to their syllabus highlighting the change of policy.
It states: “Faculty members are expected to report all incidents of academic dishonesty to the associate provost and dean of academic and student affairs. Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade in a course, or, in cases of multiple infractions, dismissal from the University.”
“The change to the policy is truly in the spirit of education. We are not trying to scare students, we believe teaching students to plan well, put in the effort, and to do your very best is important to learn between these developmental ages of 18 and 22. These are qualities that are going to suit students well in the work force,” said Middendorf.