Academic Integrity and Classroom Conduct

Academic Integrity and Dishonesty Policy

[Adapted (with permission: 6.13.2006) from the Westmont College Plagiarism Policy]

Vanguard University is a community of Christian scholars. When students join our college community, they are expected, as apprentice scholars, to search for truth with integrity and accuracy. This quest requires humility about our abilities, respect for the ideas of others, and originality in our thinking. Since Vanguard University is a Christian community, the integrity of our scholarship is rooted in the integrity of our faith. We seek to be followers of Christ in the classroom, in the library, and at the privacy of our computers.

Academic dishonesty is considered a serious breach of trust within the Vanguard community, as it both violates the regard for truth essential to genuine learning and Christian consistency, and disadvantages those students who do their work with integrity. It demonstrates a deep disrespect for fellow students, the faculty, the University, and one’s own commitment to the integrity that should mark the life of the practicing Christian. Academic dishonesty may consist of plagiarism, cheating, or falsification.

I. Plagiarism

Students have a responsibility to understand plagiarism and to learn how to avoid it. They should refuse to allow fellow students “to borrow” or to use an assignment without proper citation, encourage fellow students to do their own work, and refrain from completing assignments for their fellow students. If a student helps another plagiarize in these or other ways, he or she is equally guilty of academic dishonesty.

A.   Definitions

To plagiarize is to present someone else’s work—his or her words, line of thought, or organizational structure—as our own. This occurs when sources are not cited properly, or when permission is not obtained from the original author to use his or her work. By not acknowledging the sources that are used in our work, we are wrongfully taking material that is not our own. Plagiarism is thus an insidious and disruptive form of dishonesty. It violates relationships with known classmates and professors, and it violates the legal rights of people we may never meet. Another person’s “work” can take many forms: printed or electronic copies of computer programs, musical compositions, drawings, paintings, oral presentations, papers, essays, articles or chapters, statistical data, tables or figures, etc. In short, if any information that can be considered the intellectual property of another is used without acknowledging the original source properly, this is plagiarism.

At Vanguard University, we define three levels of plagiarism:

  1. Minimal plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, doing any of the following without attribution:
    1. inserting verbatim phrases of 2-3 distinctive words;
    2. substituting synonyms into the original sentence rather than rewriting the complete sentence;
    3. reordering the clauses of a sentence;
    4. imitating the sentence, paragraph, or organizational structure, or writing style of a source;
    5. using a source’s line of logic, thesis or ideas.
  2. Substantial plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, doing any of the following without attribution:
    1. inserting verbatim sentences or longer passages from a source;
    2. combining paraphrasing with verbatim sentences to create a paragraph or more of text;
    3. repeatedly and pervasively engaging in minimal plagiarism.
  3. Complete plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, doing any of the following without attribution:
    1. submitting or presenting someone’s complete published or unpublished work (paper, article, or chapter);
    2. submitting another student’s work for an assignment, with or without that person’s knowledge or consent;
    3. using information from a file of old assignments;
    4. downloading a term paper from a web site;
    5. buying a term paper from a mail order company or web site;
    6. reusing or modifying previously submitted work (e.g., from another course) for a present assignment without obtaining prior approval from the instructors involved.

B.   Consequences

Minimal plagiarism. When instances of minimal plagiarism are detected, the instructor can use these situations as an educational opportunity to discuss with the student the nature of plagiarism and the values of a scholarly, Christian community. At the professor’s discretion, assignments may be rewritten and resubmitted, with or without a grade penalty. Repeated instances of minimal plagiarism may, at the professor’s discretion, be treated as substantial plagiarism.

Substantial plagiarism. For a first offense, the student typically receives a failing grade on the assignment that has been plagiarized, and a Report of Academic Dishonesty is submitted to the Associate Provost/Dean of the College. For a second offense, the student typically receives a failing grade in the course, and a Report of Academic Dishonesty is submitted to the Associate Provost/Dean of the College. For a third offense, the student typically is recommended for expulsion from the University. The final appeal in all student academic matters is to the Provost, who serves as the chief academic officer of the University.

Complete plagiarism. For a first offense, the student typically receives a failing grade in the course, and a Report of Academic Dishonesty is submitted to the Associate Provost/Dean of the College. For a second offense, the student typically is recommended for expulsion from the University. The final appeal in all student academic matters is to the Provost, who serves as the chief academic officer of the University.

II.   Cheating

Cheating is obtaining or helping another to obtain credit for work accomplished by deceptive means. Cheating includes, but is not limited to:

  1. talking or communicating through signals with another student during a quiz or exam;
  2. using unauthorized materials such as electronic devices or cheat sheets to obtain information for a quiz or exam;
  3. copying or sharing information during a quiz or exam;
  4. taking, using, sharing or posting an exam or answers to a quiz or exam (before, during or after the quiz or exam);
  5. leaving during a quiz or exam in order to obtain information;
  6. claiming credit for work not accomplished personally;
  7. giving false data about the procedure used to take a quiz or exam or complete an assignment.

III.  Falsification

Falsification is the alteration of information, documents, or other evidence in order to mislead. Examples of this form of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:

  1. fabrication or falsification of data, analysis, citations or other information for assignments, exams, speeches or any other academic work;
  2. forgery or unauthorized alteration of official documents, credentials, or signatures;
  3. misrepresentation of one’s academic accomplishments, experiences, credentials, or expertise;
  4. withholding information related to admission, transfer credits, disciplinary actions, financial aid, or academic status;
  5. submitting the same work in more than one class without the authorization of the instructors.

Consequences for cheating and falsification

  1. If a student has been dishonest in any way in completing an academic assignment, the student typically receives a failing grade in the exercise and a Report of Academic Dishonesty is submitted to the Office of the Associate Provost/Dean of the College.
  2. The above is understood to be a minimal degree of discipline. A faculty member may, if he or she has announced the policy, give the student an F in the course for any type of academic dishonesty.
  3. A second violation or instance of dishonesty in the same or different course may result in expulsion from the university.
  4. A student who feels that he or she has been unfairly accused or unjustly treated may appeal to an ad hoc committee comprised of the Associate Provost/Dean of the College, the Chair of the Department of the student’s major, and an additional resident faculty member of the student’s choosing.  The final appeal in all student academic matters is to the Provost, who serves as the chief academic officer of the University.

Classroom Conduct

All students have the right to learn without interference from others.  Faculty members have the authority to protect this right by creating and maintaining an environment that is conducive to learning. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is respectful of all others and does not disrupt the learning experience of others. Should an instructor determine that a student's conduct is disruptive, the instructor may impose the student's immediate removal from the classroom. The student may be referred for disciplinary action.  The student may appeal to the Department Chair, and, if necessary, to the Dean of the College, and finally to the Provost.