Case Title:Case Study 5 - Visiting Academic Misconduct
Case Study Publish Date:3/14/2016
Summary of the Case:Two students were turned in for possible academic misconduct during an exam. One student was a visitor from the Qatar campus, the other was a full-time student on the College Station campus. Both students maintained that this issue was a case of miscommunication and appearances not being what they seemed.
Text of the Case:Violation report was submitted on 12/18/2013 in MEEN 344. There were two alleged violators (AV#1 and AV#2). One student was visiting for the semester from the Qatar campus. Both AVs were charged with Cheating – using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance in any academic exercise.
The details of the report state that the final exam for MEEN 344 was held on December 10th. After the exam, two students approached the TA for the class (the instructor was out of the country at the time) and stated that two other students in the class were cheating. The TA for the class reviewed the exams of the two students, but found nothing that stood out as evidence of academic misconduct. The two students who had approached the TA then each filed a violation report accusing the alleged violators of talking during the exam, and using multiple sheets of notes when the restrictions in the syllabus stated that only one sheet was allowed per student. After returning to campus, the instructor of record for the class requested that an investigation into the matter be conducted by the Honor Council.
In the investigation, it was discovered that AV#1 did, in fact, have two single-sided sheets of note paper for the exam. The other student, AV#2, whose interview was conducted via Skype, maintained that there was no talking during the exam, and insisted that he had only one sheet of notes for himself, that was a collaboration of information put together by him and his roommate as a study-guide, AV#2 also mentioned that being left-handed, along with the other student being right-handed, it was plausible that to someone just looking at them it could have appeared that they were facing each other during the exam, although AV#2 maintained that this was not the case. One witness insisted that AV#1 and AV#2 were talking throughout the exam, and the other witness said that the two students had a minimum of 5 sheets between the two of them. Both witnesses appeared to be sincere in their assessments of what they saw.
In the hearing, the TA for the class stated that the classroom was fairly quiet during the exam, aside from the occasional student asking him questions about parts of the exam. He further stated that two single-sided sheets of paper would have been acceptable, if the student had made a request to have them prior to the start of the exam. He was however, concerned that the student did not ask permission and saw that as a violation of the rules. The TA further stated that he saw no similarities between the two exams that would have stood out enough to make him suspect cheating. The only reason he turned in AV1 and AV2 was because of the reports he received from their fellow students. Both students maintained that they did not talk to each other or cheat in any way during the exam.
Questions for Discussion:Would you find AV#1 responsible for academic misconduct? Why or why not?
Would you find AV#2 responsible for academic misconduct? Why or why not?
What additional information would you need to make a decision in this case?
Additional Commentary:Additional Information:
AV#2 was found not responsible.
After finding the AV#1 responsible for academic misconduct the following information was given to the members of the hearing panel:
1) This was a first offense situation for the AV
2) AV#1 was apologetic for having not gotten permission to bring two sheets of paper into the exam, but insisted that it was a misunderstanding, as the paper used was engineering paper that had gridlines on the back, making note taking difficult. She had one of the sheets in question in her bag, and was able to show the panel that the back of the paper is not suitable for making notes.
With this additional information, what sanction(s) would you choose and why?
Resolution of Case
AV#1was sanctioned with the following:
1) A deduction of 10% off the final exam grade (not course grade). and
2) AV#1 was required to write a letter of apology to the TA for not asking permission to bring two single-sided sheets to the final exam.