Promoting Academic Integrity at CMC

Students in a classroom

At Claremont McKenna College every individual is expected to maintain high ethical standards in the pursuit of personal and professional goals at the College. As valued members of the scholarly community, students, faculty, and staff support an institutional commitment to honest intellectual inquiry and expect strict adherence to policies that uphold CMC’s academic integrity standards.

Understand what academic dishonesty means. Review the Claremont Colleges Library tutorial on academic integrity.

Know what is expected by your professors. Not sure what your professor expects of you? Ask! It’s important to know the instructor’s preferred citation style, policies on things like the use of calculators, and what level of collaboration is allowed in that class.

Use online citation guides. There are a lot of specifics to remember when citing your work. Take advantage of online resources to make sure you are following the guidelines.

Beware of using digital media, including photos and videos, in your personal and academic life. If those images and videos were created by anyone other than you, they likely require permission, and possibly payment, to use. This Claremont Colleges Library resource can help.

Try an academic integrity checklist. Checklists are a great way to avoid mistakes, including accidental transgressions, because they remind you of steps that should not be neglected. See an example checklist here.

Hold each other accountable. If you have reason to believe that a fellow student has violated CMC’s Policy on Academic Integrity, you are encouraged to speak directly to the faculty member if you are comfortable doing so. Alternatively, you could speak directly to the student or report your suspicion anonymously.

Understand what academic dishonesty means.

Faculty should familiarize themselves with the various ways that academic dishonesty may occur.

  • During in-class exams:

    • Copying through the roving eye

    • Using cheatsheets

    • Using programmable calculators

    • Using cellphone cameras or mp3 players

    • Texting on cellphones

    • Asking to go to the restroom

    • Looking at candy bar wrappers or water bottle wrappers with answers on them

  • On take-home exams, papers, assignments and homework:

    • Copying through study groups

    • Using files left on portable media and on lab computers

    • Buying papers online

    • Committing plagiarism, often internet-assisted

    • Self-plagiarizing from older work

  • Fraudulent re-grading

  • Taking performance-enhancing drugs

Understand the extent of the problem.

No college is entirely free of academic integrity violations. In the four academic years from 2015 through 2019, CMC’s Academic Standards Committee reviewed 89 alleged cases of academic dishonesty, resulting in 84 grade penalties, 19 suspensions and 3 permanent dismissals from the College.

Set clear expectations and follow through.

Students’ decision to violate CMC’s academic integrity policy is theirs alone, but faculty can help student avoid this temptation.

  • Discuss academic integrity issues at the beginning of class and in your syllabus. You might explain how integrity is important to the learning process and how cheating is not a victimless crime, and enlist students' help in maintaining academic integrity.

  • Explicitly clarify expectations for your course:

    • Outline types of dishonesty that might be particularly tempting in that certain class (plagiarism, cheating, take-home exam collaboration, etc.)

    • State the preferred citation style.

    • Identify for each course assignment or activity whether collaboration is required, permitted, or prohibited.

    • Clarify your policy on the use of material prepared for another course (self-plagiarism and citation).

    • Some faculty who need special functions in their students’ calculators can provide students with a list of allowable calculators after checking prices and availability. Some faculty will want to allow only calculators that are not programmable.

  • Consider requiring your students to complete an academic integrity tutorial and quiz to make sure they are all informed. (Contact the Dean of Faculty’s Office for this online resource.)

  • Assign participation in a citation manager workshop at the Claremont Colleges Library. This ongoing series is free and very useful.

  • Assign annotated bibliographies for research and writing assignments. Encourage students to address the reliability, relevance, and potential biases of sources in their annotations.

  • Specially construct writing assignments in a way that deters copy-and-paste internet plagiarism.

  • Design assignments around highly specific topics (e.g., instead of a discussion of George Washington, ask for a comparison of George Washington’s achievements compared to those of Thomas Jefferson).

  • Assign topics that require analysis of information, not mere presentation of facts.

  • Break the assignment into pieces if convenient, collecting parts of the paper throughout the writing process. Ask for drafts of assignments.

  • Require some in-class writing, and collect this work promptly to learn each student’s individual writing style and voice.

  • Require and check written excuses for make-up exams, extensions, etc.

  • Have students sign an honor statement on exams/papers/assignments attesting that all the work they submit is their own & that they have not taken any unfair or dishonest advantage.

Be thoughtful about exams.

Creating a secure testing environment and tracking your course carefully can reduce dishonest practices.

  • Proctor in-class exams. Review the best practices for monitoring exams.

  • To prevent fraudulent re-grading requests:

    • Mark wrong answers or blank space with an “X” or slash mark.

    • Photocopy or scan graded exams before returning to students.

  • Do not return major exams. Instead, allow students to see exams in your office only.

  • Create exams with an eye toward preventing dishonesty:

    • Change exam questions often, ideally every semester. If re-using material, do not repeat any exam in its entirety, and go back at least four to five years.

    • Use two or more exam versions, scrambling the order of questions or answers, or changing key variables or terms.

    • Place more copy-susceptible items (such as multiple choice) towards the bottoms of pages (harder to copy).

    • For questions that require single answers (such as in mathematics, economics, sciences, accounting, etc.), insist on students showing the work that led to the answer.

    • Keep your office door locked and do not share your computer passwords with anybody.

Know how to assess suspected violations.

Be on the watch for:

  • Mixed citation styles or a lack of citations.

  • Signs of datedness (old statistics, omitted recent facts, etc.).

  • Inconsistencies in formatting and logic.

There are also a number of online resources available, such as plagiarism detection programs.

  • Turnitin: Please contact the Registrar’s office for information on how to evaluate student work through Turnitin or to set up your own Turnitin account.

  • Be aware of the free and fee-based term paper websites.

Know how to report suspected violations. Faculty have an obligation to report suspected violations of the College’s academic policies.

Familiarize yourself with academic dishonesty procedures.

Encourage students to communicate with their professors at the start of the semester and throughout the term about competition events and travel. Some competition dates are known well in advance, while others, especially tournament and play-off games, are scheduled at the last minute. It is the students’ responsibility, not the coaches’ responsibility, to communicate with professors. However, coaches can and should set an expectation for early and thorough communication.

Coaches may be asked to proctor exams on the road. Faculty-coaches should ask for explicit instructions from the relevant professor about exam expectations. For example, an exam may be listed for two hours, but students could be allowed an extra 15 minutes in-class. Conversely, the two-hour mark could be a hard-and-fast timeline. Are notes allowed? Are calculators allowed? Are bathroom breaks allowed? Does the exam need to be taken on the same date/time as the regularly scheduled class, or can it be taken earlier or later?

Here are best practices for proctoring exams. Adaptations may need to be made for different environments.

Talk with your team on a regular basis about academic integrity. CMS coaches require team members to train, compete, and communicate with integrity. Coaches should reinforce the expectations for academic integrity and personal and social responsibility.