Academic Integrity Update
Penn State Altoona has adopted an online form to report academic integrity violations. Following the submission of the form, Peter Moran, associate dean for policy and planning, will contact the faculty about the next steps. For guidance on sanctions, please consult the University's Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations.
Academic Integrity Form Instructions
Penn State defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. All members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with the principle of academic integrity.
Consistent with this expectation, Penn State’s Code of Conduct states that students should act with personal integrity; respect other students' dignity, rights, and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.
Violations of Academic Integrity include, but are not limited to, copying, plagiarism, fabrication of information or citations, facilitation of acts of academic dishonesty by others, unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor and tampering with the academic work of other students. Through our academic integrity policy and procedures, Penn State Altoona recognizes and reinforces the University’s commitment to academic integrity as a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State.
In general, academic integrity is best taught and reinforced by faculty as an element of the teaching and learning process. To protect the rights and maintain the trust of honest students and to support appropriate behavior, faculty and administrators should regularly communicate high standards of integrity and reinforce them by taking reasonable steps to anticipate and deter acts of dishonesty in all assignments. At the beginning of each course, it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide students with a statement clarifying the application of University and college academic integrity policies to that course.
Faculty members who suspect a student or students of violating academic integrity are to submit an Academic Integrity Form and follow the procedures listed on this page. Only in the limited instances in which faculty believe that disciplinary as well as academic sanctions are called for should the academic integrity process move to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response. The Academic Integrity Committee shall maintain guidelines on ranges of appropriate sanctions for given types of infractions. Academic sanctions range from a warning to removal from the academic program.
Penn State Altoona’s Associate Dean for Policy and Planning maintains the academic integrity procedures of the college and records cases of academic dishonesty. Direct questions and send signed Academic Integrity Forms to Peter Moran.
Academic Integrity Procedures
Penn State Altoona has developed the following guidelines to advise faculty and students in cases of possible academic integrity violations
When Academic Misconduct is Suspected:
- The faculty member informs the student of the allegation while taking into account the confidential nature of the information and the goal of maintaining an environment that supports teaching and learning.
- The Academic Integrity Form is located at https://ai.la.psu.edu/. When evidence suggests that academic misconduct has occurred, the faculty members will complete their portion of the Academic Integrity Form.
- Typically, students have five business days to consider the evidence and to complete their portion of the academic integrity form. The Academic Integrity Office has the discretion to extend the deadline. If a student does not complete their portion of the form and submit it by the deadline, the process will continue with the acknowledgment that the student chose not to respond to contest.
- Educators should submit evidence in support of the allegations and a course syllabus (when appropriate). If educators want to submit sensitive information (e.g., exams/answers) that they do not wish the student to see or have, they should contact the Academic Integrity Office to discuss and provide the student with a description of that information (e.g., 90% of the student's answers, including all wrong answers, matched that of a nearby student).
- Normally, it is preferable to pursue academic sanctions with the college, relying on the assignment of grades and course or program-related sanctions to support the learning process, rather than requesting additional University-level disciplinary sanctions. However, where integrity violations are considered to be extreme, the faculty member may also opt to pursue disciplinary action in conjunction with the Academic Integrity Committee and the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response. A more detailed and comprehensive listing of the types of academic sanctions faculty may assign to students on the Academic Integrity Form can be found in the document Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations.
- Once a student has been informed that academic misconduct is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. Any drop or withdrawal from the course during this time will be reversed. A student who has received an academic sanction as a result of a violation of academic integrity may not drop or withdraw from the course at any time. These drop actions include regular drop, late drop, withdrawal, retroactive late drop, and retroactive withdrawal. Any such drop action of the course will be reversed. This drop policy may be superseded in exceptional circumstances (i.e., trauma drop). In these cases, the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response will confer with the Associate Dean for Policy and Planning to determine if the drop is warranted.
In the case of a student who has dropped or withdrawn from a course before notification of an alleged academic integrity violation, the adjudication process can still go forward, and a record of violation can be created if appropriate. In such a case, the Associate Dean for Policy and Planning, in consultation with the instructor of the course, will confirm that the student is notified of the alleged violation and proceed in accordance with the campus or college procedure.
- The final decision on a sanction may differ from the sanction recommended by the faculty member, regardless of whether or not the student accepts responsibility for the violation. For this reason, a student who has been notified of an alleged academic integrity violation should continue to attend classes and meet course requirements during the adjudication process. If the student chooses not to attend class or fulfill course expectations while the college completes its review of the academic integrity case, he or she agrees implicitly with the sanctions recommended by the faculty member and will receive their grade as appropriate. The imposed sanction will be communicated in writing to the student by the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee upon the conclusion of the review.
- The Associate Dean for Policy and Planning is responsible for ensuring that the process outlined in this document is followed. If either the student or the faculty member involved in the instance of alleged academic misconduct thinks that there has been a procedural problem, then he/she should bring that concern to the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning for resolution.
If the Student Accepts Responsibility for the Violation and the Proposed Academic Sanction:
- If, on the academic integrity form, the student accepts the allegations(s) and sanction(s), the academic integrity process ends, and the educator is permitted to impose the proposed sanction(s). However, if the student has a previous academic integrity violation, the College Academic Integrity Committee may ask the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response for a disciplinary sanction (also called a conduct sanction).
- If, on the academic integrity form, the faculty member requests a disciplinary sanction, the College Academic Integrity Committee will convene to consider the request and pass their opinion on to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response, which is responsible for the implementation and supervision of disciplinary sanctions.
If the Student Does Not Admit Responsibility for an Academic Integrity Violation:
- When students contest the allegation(s) of misconduct, the proposed sanction(s), or both, they are encouraged to submit a statement to the College Academic Integrity Office explaining why the suspicious behavior was no evidence of academic misconduct. If desired, students may also submit supporting information (e.g., medical documentation).
- The College Academic Integrity Office will send everything the student submits to the educator for review and comment. However, if a student wants to submit private information (e.g., sensitive medical documents), the College Academic Integrity Office may choose to send a broad description of that information to the instructor instead.
- After reviewing student-submitted information, the educator may respond. If the educator responds, the student will have an opportunity to review the new information and respond. The information will then be advanced to the College Academic Integrity Committee
Academic Integrity Review
- After the Altoona College Academic Integrity Committee reviews the information submitted, it will make two separate determinations. First, the committee will determine if there is a preponderance of evidence that the student violated academic integrity policies, either intentionally or unintentionally. If not, then the academic integrity process ends.
- If so, then the committee will review the sanction(s) proposed by the educator, consider the student's history of academic misconduct (or lack thereof), and consult the University sanctioning guidelines to determine outcomes. If the committee believes a disciplinary sanction is appropriate, it will send a request to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response, which will use its own process to make its own determination.
- Faculty may assign a wide range of sanctions to a student found responsible for violating academic integrity. Most faculty may choose to utilize academic sanctions (the modification of grades due to misconduct), but when referring cases to Student Accountability and Conflict Response, faculty have the option to also recommend a full range of disciplinary sanctions available to Student Accountability and Conflict Response such as Disciplinary Warning; Disciplinary Probation; Suspension, Indefinite Expulsion or Expulsion; or the "XF" transcript notation (see: Sanctioning Guidelines for Academic Integrity Violations and Explanations for Disciplinary Sanctions).
- "XF" sanctions are assigned only after consultation with the instructor, the Academic Integrity Committee, and Student Accountability and Conflict Response. Assigning an "XF" notation to a student’s transcript should be a rare occurrence and is reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity, which may include repeat misconduct.
- With any recommendation to Student Accountability and Conflict Response for an XF grade, the Academic Integrity Committee must include those conditions (if any) under which it would approve the removal of the "XF" sanction from the transcript. Student Accountability and Conflict Response will consider this recommendation when deciding upon the length of time that the "XF" notation will remain on the student's transcript. When the conditions (if any) are met for removal of the "XF", an academic "F" will remain on the transcript. Such conditions must reflect both the circumstances of the individual case and consultation among the instructor, the Academic Integrity Committee, and the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response.
- Through the Student Accountability and Conflict Response process, the student will be able to request a sanction review for the disciplinary sanction assigned, but not for the academic sanction assigned. Once the student is found responsible in the process, the academic sanction recommended by the faculty and/or the Academic Integrity Committee will be put into place. The only exception occurs when the academic sanction assigned by the faculty member or the Academic Integrity Committee is dismissal from the academic program. On those occasions, students may request a sanction review from the Associate Dean for Policy and Planning. A student that is assigned any level of disciplinary sanction will have the right to request a sanction review from the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response.
Schreyer Honors College Students:
- For honors courses, as with all other courses, the academic college delivering the course maintains responsibility for reviewing and issuing academic sanctions and/or referring cases to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response.
- When a college finds a Schreyer Scholar has committed or has not contested academic misconduct, the Schreyer Honors College is notified and will respond through on internal process that may lead to dismissal from the Schreyer Honors College.
- The Schreyer Honors College maintains authority over alleged breaches of academic integrity for its students in all cases in which the violation concerns Schreyer Honors College work, such as thesis research, but in which the student is not enrolled in a course.
Students Enrolled in Intercollege Majors or Minors:
- For intercollege programs, the Dean of the College (UP), the Associate Dean for Policy and Planning, or the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses or his or her designee responsible for approving the course instructor for the course in which the alleged violation occurred will determine and manage the appropriate Academic Integrity procedures.
- These responsibilities will include communicating with the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response or Student Accountability and Conflict Response designee and the sanction review process, when applicable.
Students Enrolled in Other Credit-bearing Activities or Programs:
- Students enrolled in other Penn State credit-bearing academic activities or programs (e.g. World Campus, Center for Workforce and Career Development, Cooperative Education, internships, study abroad programs, etc.) are subject to the University Academic Integrity Policy as implemented by Associate Dean for Policy and Planning who has academic responsibility for the program, course or activity.
- The Associate Dean for Policy and Planning is responsible for forming Academic Integrity Committees and seeing that students and faculty have ready access to such bodies. He/she is also responsible for seeing that all cases are reported to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response. The specific information reported to Student Accountability and Conflict Response should include: a) a copy of the signed Academic Integrity Form, and b) other supporting documents that were established or reviewed while managing the case.
- The Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response alone is responsible for the central record keeping and disclosing of student disciplinary records at the University, including academic dishonesty cases. Student Accountability and Conflict Response will disclose student disciplinary records of academic dishonesty to third parties when those records include University-level disciplinary sanctions assigned by the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response. The Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response will disclose student discipline record information to third parties in accordance with federal law (FERPA) and the University policy on managing Student Discipline Records.