Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Academic integrity at PCC

As a faculty member a key part of supporting our students learning and success is ensuring that they understand the expectations of submitting their own authentic work in your course. There are some proactive ways to communicate these expectations, such as your syllabus or addressing students questions during class/office hours. You could even have a Student Conduct & Retention Coordinator give a presentation to your class about behavioral standards and academic expectations! We all understand that being proactive does not always lead to the desired outcome. The bottomline is that when instructors communicate their expectations and students do not meet those expectations, you have a foundation to build on when you speak to students about potential misconduct.

Whenever these incidents arise there is opportunity to approach them using a developmental lens with your students. For this reason we want to encourage instructors to report each instance of potential academic misconduct to the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs). The SCRCs are here to help you navigate these situations. After reviewing the Academic Misconduct policy and process please take a look at the additional information provided that might help answer some of your initial questions.

What are the expectations for Academic Integrity at PCC?

Article IV: Proscribed Conduct

Taken directly from the Student Code of Conduct Policy and Procedures Article IV. Proscribed Conduct

The following constitutes conduct proscribed by the College for which a student or student organization is subject to disciplinary action:

  1. Academic misconduct. Actions constituting violations of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Cheating. Includes but is not limited to use of any unauthorized assistance for academic work and use of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the College faculty or staff.
    2. Collusion. Includes but is not limited to assisting another to commit an act of academic misconduct, such as paying or bribing someone to acquire a test or assignment, taking a test or doing an assignment for someone else, unauthorized group work, use of unauthorized electronic devices, or allowing someone to do these things for one’s own benefit.
    3. Fabrication. Includes but is not limited to falsifying data, information, or citations in completing an academic assignment or other institutional document, and also includes providing false or deceptive information to an instructor concerning the completion of an assignment.
    4. Plagiarism. Includes but is not limited to use of someone else’s language, ideas, or other original material (not common-knowledge) without attribution to the source. This definition applies to all student work, not limited to print materials, online materials, manuscripts, oral discussion, and the work of other students. Examples include submitting someone else’s language, ideas, or materials as one’s own; inadequate paraphrasing, copying words and changing them a little, even if you give the source; carelessly or inadequately citing ideas and words borrowed from another source; self-plagiarism, including the unauthorized submission for credit of academic work that has been submitted for credit in another course.

What are the procedures for Academic Misconduct at PCC?

Academic Misconduct Process

Taken directly from the Student Code of Conduct Policy and Procedures Article V. 4.

  1. Report. Anyone may submit information about a possible Code violation by submitting a report to Report an Incident. Course instructors are encouraged to notify their Department Chair and/or Division Dean of the possible academic misconduct.
  2. The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinator reviews the report submitted and contacts the Reporting Party to follow up on the report and next steps.
    1. The course instructor may:
      1. Meet with the student.
      2. Issue no credit or partial credit for the assignment or allow the student to redo the assignment. The course instructor’s decision shall be communicated in writing to the student.
      3. Wait to assign a grade to that assignment until the conduct process has concluded. If the student’s grade on that assignment will affect the student’s final grade in the course, the instructor shall leave the grade blank.
    2. The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinator determines whether (a) the case will proceed to an Administrative Hearing, or (b) the case will be closed.
  3. As a result of an Administrative Hearing, the Student Conduct Officer may need to coordinate with the Dean of Instruction to make necessary changes to the student’s transcript in accordance with the outcome of the Administrative Hearing process. This may include adjustments to grades from previous terms.
  4. The student may appeal the decision of the Student Conduct Officer by following the steps outlined in this document. The student may appeal the instructor’s decision by following the College’s Complaint Process.

What is a developmental approach?

Students arrive with a variety of experiences in terms of academic habits and expectations. Students are also under varying degrees of internal and external pressures that influence their behavior. Students also have beliefs about expectations of what is okay and not okay in an academic setting. Whatever the case may be, academic misconduct is usually more complex in terms of the factors that influence the behavior than a simple interpretation of right and wrong.

The developmental approach looks at academic misconduct as an opportunity to intervene and educate. This developmental approach at the core holds students accountable for their actions and seeks to clarify the expectations of college work and the potential impact of misconduct to their college and professional career. Through this approach the student is given a chance to change their behavior and learn from the experience. These steps might include:

  • The student is given the opportunity to hear the concerns.
  • The student is given the opportunity to share their perspective.
  • Share with the student the expectations for academic misconduct.
  • Share ways in which these expectations can be met.
  • Offer any resources or support needed to help the student be successful.
  • Help the student understand the potential outcomes if the behavior is repeated.

We encourage instructors to consult with the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators if they are uncertain about how to proceed.

Why report each instance?

You’d likely consider it a success if after your intervention with a student there were no further concerns in your class. The value of your report is that it helps the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) know if there is a pattern of potential academic misconduct across classes and campuses. If there are multiple reports it allows the SCRCs to see the big picture and make a different kind of intervention if a student has a pattern of potential academic misconduct that existed before and/or continues after your intervention. The SCRCs intervention will still be developmental in their approach, but the outcomes will also change for the student.

What happens after I make a report?

When you make a report, you will be contacted by the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) about next steps as defined in the process (see above). With the developmental lens in mind, the decision to report the incidence of potential academic misconduct is advised as part of an early intervention process. Additional next steps can be discussed with the Student Conduct &Retention Coordinator.

Knowing what to do in each instance of potential academic misconduct can be challenging, especially if the situation is not straightforward. Consulting with a Student Conduct & Retention Coordinator can be a step you can take at any time in the process, including before filing a report. The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators are here to support you through the process and help you understand your options as an instructor.

It is important to still submit a conduct report about this instance of academic misconduct. This helps the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) understand if there is a pattern of behavior across classes. You can advise the SCRCs what actions you have already taken with the situation and student. The SCRCs will most likely close the case as documentation if there are no other reports for the same student. If the student continues to violate the academic misconduct policy now or in the future, the SCRCs will move forward with the conduct process. If the SCRCs close the case as documentation, they will offer to meet with the student to have an educational conversation if you choose.

What about the grade?

You have decided to wait on the outcome of the conduct process to assign a grade for the work in question. The conduct process may take a couple of weeks to complete. If you are needing to submit grades, assign the grade that has been earned up until that point and a grade change can be submitted at the conclusion of the process.

Who should I talk to about next steps and reporting?

We recommend you inform your department chair and division dean, but that is not required. We also encourage you to consult with one of the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators if you have questions and/or would like some advice on how to proceed. In the end please remember to submit a conduct report. If you need support from colleagues, understand you can talk about this, but be mindful of FERPA .

How long does the conduct process take?

The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators do our best to close the case within three weeks. However, there are many factors that can delay this, such as the information gathering processes, additional instances of misconduct by the same student, and student response time. If a report comes to us at the end of the term and you are unsure about what to post for the final grade, assign the grade that has been earned up until that point and a grade change can be submitted as needed.

What happens to the student’s education or academic record?

The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) record each academic misconduct report in our database. Typically, first instances of reports are resolved by the instructor’s intervention, the Student Conduct & CARE office then documents the report, but does not take additional action with the student. At times, instructors request an investigation from our office to determine the likelihood that the behavior occurred. Instructors may decide to wait on the outcome of the investigation before issuing a grade decision. If a student has additional instances of academic integrity violations, those instances would also be recorded. A pattern of violations would likely move the case from an academic process of intervention to a conduct process for violation of the Portland Community College’s Student Code Conduct Policy. The SCRCs continue to work from a developmental approach and this process acknowledges that the student has not changed course after earlier interventions.

All records remain within the Student Conduct & CARE office.

What are the outcomes students face for academic misconduct?

Typically, the first time a student is reported for a low level academic integrity issue, the instance will be recorded and will not proceed to the conduct process. The instructor may apply an outcome outlined below. The Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) will likely consider the case documented and closed after the instructor’s intervention. No further outreach to the student or determination of outcomes will be made from our office, unless there are additional violations.

Per the policy procedure, the instructor may:

  1. Meet with the student.
  2. Issue no credit or partial credit for the assignment or allow the student to redo the assignment. The course instructor’s decision shall be communicated in writing to the student.
  3. Wait to assign a grade to that assignment until the conduct process has concluded. If the student’s grade on that assignment will affect the student’s final grade in the course, the instructor shall leave the grade blank.

If a student is found responsible for violating the academic misconduct policy through conduct process, the following outcomes may occur:

  • Educational sanctions
  • Expulsion
  • Probation
  • Written warning
  • Failure of the coursework involved in the incident
  • Suspension

Why can’t I assign an F for the course?

This was a big change with the last policy revision at PCC, posted March of 2019. A guiding reason for this change was related to the student’s educational rights around grades earned based on work completed. What you can do is hold the student accountable for each piece of coursework that is of concern. If the consequences of failing each of those assignments leads to a C, then that is the grade the student would earn for the course. There could be additional outcomes if the incident goes through the conduct process, see “What are the outcomes a student faces for academic misconduct?”

What do I do if I don’t want to get the student in trouble?

The academic misconduct process is rooted in education and student development. Our approach is focused on meeting the student where they are, what factors may have contributed to the student participating in academic misconduct and to offer support moving forward. When a student meets with a Student Conduct and Retention Coordinator we want them to understand the Student Code of Conduct and why we have an Academic Misconduct Policy.

This conversation can occur during the conduct process or through our CARE process. When a report is made to our office, we check to see if this is a first time occurrence. If it is a first time reported occurrence for Academic Misconduct, we will walk you through potential next steps which may include us having an educational conversation with the student or moving through our conduct process.

What can I do to promote academic integrity?

We suggest you spend time at the beginning of the course to address possible academic integrity concerns. This would be a great time to share your professional field values or ethics around academic integrity but also give concrete examples of how this may appear in your course.

Here are some examples:

  • If your course has a large component of writing, we suggest you cover plagiarism. Talk about citation expectations and what original content should look like when paraphrased and cited. Not all students comprehend that original content means their own understanding of the materials.
    • Talk to students about using the Writing Center or other resources available (i.e. Purdue Owl, if there are YouTube tutorials you know, Khan Academy, and etc.)
  • If your course is science and/or math based, acknowledge that there are resources that have algorithms that can turn out a solution. It would be important to cover that these are uniquely done for computers and often produce incorrect results.
  • Students may not be aware that sharing their work whether by email, Google Doc or uploading to a website is considered academic misconduct. We encourage you to talk to your students about what it means/looks to work together and collaborate versus copying another student’s work.

Why do students cheat or plagiarize?

As you may have guessed, there is not a single reason why students cheat or plagiarize. We understand this may feel personal to you, but oftentimes there may be underlying concerns or outside circumstances for the student. This is a great time to partner with the Student Conduct & Retention Coordinators (SCRCs) to help support the student.