Statement of Academic Integrity

What is academic integrity and why are we concerned about it? Academic integrity means being honest about your intellectual work. Working as a member of a cooperative group is an effective and efficient method of learning biology or any subject. Interacting with other people is a natural way for humans to learn, but each person must construct her or his own knowledge in the process. In my Biology courses, I encourage you to work and study together both in and out of class meetings. The written materials you produce as homework assignments, in-class activities and projects will be an outcome of these interactions, and a means of evaluating your own understanding of the material and concepts presented.

This is when the topic of academic integrity becomes an issue. Fort Lewis College has an all-college policy concerning Academic Integrity & Dishonesty. As a student of Fort Lewis College it is your responsibility to become familiar with, understand, and abide by the general guidelines (outlined below and in the College Catalog), which are intended to protect both you and the college if an infraction has occurred. Ignorance of these regulations is not a defense in cases of infringement. So... Just DON'T Do It!




a. Definitions

i) Academic dishonesty includes all forms of unethical or illegal behavior which affect a student’s academic standing, including, but not limited to, cheating on exams, plagiarism, forgery of academic documents, falsification of information on academic documents, or unauthorized access to computer files containing academic information.

ii) Plagiarism is a special kind of cheating which often is poorly understood. It is defined as follows: Plagiarism is the conscious presentation of someone else’s ideas, words, or material as one’s own, without properly indicating by footnote or some other appropriate form of citation the source or origin of the material. Other authors’ ideas, interpretations, and words are their personal and legal property. In the event that one wishes to use such material, one is required to give full credit to the original source. This also includes material that is paraphrased from another source or person. Plagiarism may be avoided by acknowledging, through some standard procedure, the sources for the ideas and interpretations as well as quoted phrases, sentences, or paragraphs. No matter the source of material used, whether quoted or paraphrased, acknowledgment of the source is required. Failure to give credit is plagiarism.


Examples of Academic Dishonesty

  1. Copying information from the web ("Google-stitching")
  2. Working together on an assignment, but submitting the work as a solo effort
  3. Copying directly from a peer


b. Policy Statement on Academic Dishonesty by Students

i) Honesty in academic matters must be of vital concern to all members of the College community. Academic fraud undermines our every purpose, for in learning, dishonest methods always produce hollow accomplishments.

ii) The faculty has a direct responsibility for honesty in all learning endeavors. This responsibility focuses upon helping each student develop a mature academic integrity. For example, discussing the research mores for a given field and genuine displays of intellectual honesty are invaluable in defining academic integrity at the College level.

iii) Sometimes students disobey the fundamental rules by cheating on exams, stealing work from peers, submitting spurious papers, and similar actions. Faculty should face these infractions in a deliberate manner that recognizes the gravity of the infraction and encourages the student towards honesty. In such instances, the student is not helped by pretending the incident did not occur, by embarrassment over juvenile behavior, or by angry indignation. Rather, the student and community are best served by a gathering and weighing of evidence, a calm confrontation with those involved, sensitivity toward unusual circumstances, and an awareness of the right of the accused to the due process offered by the Academic Standards Committee.

Source: Fort Lewis College Catalog, Academic Policies.


Consequences for Academic Dishonesty

Academic integrity is a precondition for intellectual maturity. By writing [in-class assigments, homework,] and conducting research at the university level you are entering into a community of scholars, an ongoing conversation to which you can and should contribute your own, unique voice. This requires that you make a clear distinction between your own work and that of others (from Dr. Robert Kirkman; LBS 133, MSU, Syllabus Fall, 2001).

"Whatever form it takes, academic dishonesty hurts everyone: it is unfair to other students, it diminishes the reputation of the University and the value of the degrees it confers, and it can result in serious disciplinary action." (from Dr. Robert Kirkman; LBS 133 Syllabus Fall, 2001)

In my Biology courses, students who commit acts of academic dishonesty will receive a ZERO on the assignment in question.  A second infraction will earn the student a ZERO in the course. In addition, we may proceed with a formal hearing that could ultimately dismiss them from the College.

[Adapted from D. Ebert-May course website, ISB 202, Michigan State University; 2007]


Cooperative Group Learning:

The format of this course may be somewhat different than what you experience in other classes.  A growing body of research shows that we humans learn best by doing and by having opportunities to be actively engaged with new material and new concepts as they are introduced.  It is not always easy to convey information in this manner, and so many courses rely on lectures as the primary mode of communication.  In an attempt to honor the results of recent research, we will use a cooperative learning model as the scaffolding for our work together this semester.  Short lectures, sometimes augmented with slides or other images, will be interspersed with small group activities where each one of you will have an opportunity to think, experiment, discuss, question, and try out new ideas.  You will be assigned to a group of people to work with (groups of 3 or 4 work best), and they will become your constant companions in this class.  All group members will be expected to contribute equally to group efforts, and will be held individually accountable, but will also benefit from the opportunity to both learn from and help teach their peers.  This is usually a very rewarding approach to learning and community building.

We will take some time during our first weeks of class to form these cooperative groups, to outline our expectations of each other in this class, and to set up some rules of common courtesy we can all agree on; I’ll post copies of these rules once they’re established.


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