At the University of Central Florida, an estimated 200 senior students out of a business class of about 600 cheated on their midterm exam this November. Those students are thought to have received an advance copy of the exam. This has been the largest collective cheating scandal in the university’s history. The professor, Richard Quinn, who taught the class, has given the students an ultimatum: they can either come clean and take a four hour ethics course, and those students records will be cleared, or choose not to confess and risk being caught.
At Pacific, the policy for cheating, which Pacific includes under the term “academic misconduct,” is very structured. Other than getting a zero or an “F” letter grade for the particular assignment, the sanction is determined by the professor.
“We have no tolerance for academic misconduct at Pacific or the higher education world,” said the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Smith.
The second time a student is caught cheating at Pacific, the college gets involved on a more involved level. The student can be suspended for one semester or can be dismissed permanently from Pacific.
Pacific has many preliminary measures professors are advised to take in order to discourage cheating.
“We do tell our faculty to be vigilant,” said Smith. Smith has advised faculty that in large lecture courses to be careful with students having laptops and cell phones. He has asked faculty members to think about using multiple versions of the same exam. He encourages faculty not to use the same exam every semester and to be vigilant with written work.
The faculty at Pacific are educated about cheating and advised to write a cheating policy in their syllabi and to have a discussion about academic honesty in class.
In his eight years here at Pacific, Smith said there has not been a mass cheating scandal. Each semester there are about five to six cases of academic misconduct.
“I am thankful the number is as low as it is,” said Smith.
Pacific tries to educate their students on how to avoid situations where they may be in violation and to make the academic misconduct policy clear. Smith said the reason the number of academic misconducts a semester is so low is because the students are aware and the faculty is careful and vigilant.
If a student believes they are wrongly charged with academic misconduct, the student may appeal that charge with Smith. If the student is not satisfied with the decision Smith makes they can appeal that decision to the Standard and Advising Committee for a final say.