Faculty Information

The Luther College Faculty Handbook states that all “faculty members need to assist in maintaining an environment at Luther that is thoughtful about and supportive of academic integrity and the Honor Code” (509.2.2). Students and faculty members are partners in this endeavor.

Information about Academic Integrity from the Faculty Handbook can be found in sections 509.0–509.4.

Questions concerning academic integrity and the Luther College Honor Code you can direct to the Office of the Provost or to the Faculty Advisor to the Honor Council (currently, this is Sören Steding).

Faculty FAQs about Academic Integrity

There are two different procedures for dealing with possible violations of academic integrity: the Individual Review, conducted by faculty members, and the Honor Code Review, conducted by the Honor Code Review Board of the Honor Council.

Both procedures have their advantages and disadvantages. The Individual Review, for example, usually is faster than the Honor Code Review because there have to be three class days between the summoning of a student to the Honor Code Review and the actual hearing. However, the Honor Code Review makes better provisions for due process because the procedure is regulated in more detail in the Honor Code. Also, the Honor Code Review provides an independent and uninvolved party to look at the case and the evidence.

If an instructor discovers a possible case of academic dishonesty, the instructor is free to decide if an individual review should be conducted or if the case should be handled by the Honor Council. However, if the only evidence is the statement of a student-witness, the Faculty Handbook recommends that the case be sent to the Honor Council.

In any case, if it is likely that a violation of academic integrity has occurred, faculty members must either conduct an individual review and submit the required form to the Dean’s office or send the case to the Honor Council.

This is not recommended. It is preferable that instructors send cases of possible violations to the Honor Council instead of conducting an individual review, however, in some situation, an individual review might be the better option. If in doubt, instructors should consult with other faculty members or with the Advisor to the Honor Council.

Read detailed information about the individual review.

Once a case is referred to the Honor Council, the instructor should stop any communication with the accused student (or any other person involved) until the Honor Code Review Board has come to a decision. You also should not change any grades at this time or make any statements about any action you might take after the Honor Council has come to a verdict. Once you receive the verdict, you can either follow the recommendations or issue your own sanction.

The Campus Appeals Board only determines if an accused student got a fair hearing, if the information on which the decision of the Honor Code Review Board is based was substantial, if the sanctions were appropriate for the violation, or if new information has to be considered. The Campus Appeals Board cannot change a verdict and it cannot change grades. If an appeal is upheld, the case will be re-opened by the Honor Code Review Board. Instructors are usually only informed if there is a different verdict after the case has been re-opened.

If a case arises at the end of the semester (e.g. during the final exam) and it is not very likely that the Honor Code Review Board can hear the case before the next semester, instructors can either assign the grade of “Incomplete” while the case is pending, or they can assign a regular grade and inform the student and the registrar (and perhaps the department head) that a grade change might be necessary after the Honor Code Review Board has reached a verdict.

Of course, you could also conduct an Individual Review instead.

You can contact the Honor Council via email, via SPO to “Honor Council”, by contacting the Honor Council Chair or the Advisor to the Honor Council. The Advisor of the Honor Council also is available to help you prepare your case for the Honor Council.

A report to the Honor Council should include (if available or applicable):

  • a detailed description of the case (type of assignment, description of the assignment, how the violation was detected, etc.),
  • a detailed description of the possible violation (always assuming that the members of the Honor Code Review Board are not experts in the subject matter),
  • names of all students involved (accused students and witnesses),
  • a course syllabus,
  • emails related to the case (if there already has been email communication with students involved).

If there is no evidence other than the statement of a witness, the Faculty Handbook recommends that the case be sent to the Honor Council. If the witness is not willing to identify themselves to the Honor Council, the case cannot go forward. Witnesses and students reporting violations to the Honor Council can choose to stay anonymous to the students they accuse, but they must be known to the Honor Council.

In the individual review, the names of witnesses can be withheld from accused students; however, they should have a chance to review the evidence and statements against them.

There are three types of sanctions that are available to the Honor Code Review Board:

  • recommendations to the instructor concerning grades;
  • recommendations to the Dean concerning suspension or dismissal of a student;
  • sanctions under the sole authority of the Honor Council (e.g. barring the student from participation in any campus-wide elections for a time or requiring the student to take part in a workshop on academic integrity). You can find a detailed list in the Honor Code, under section “6. Sanctions.”

Instructors are not required to follow the recommendations of the Honor Council, but they also cannot change the verdict (e.g. if the Honor Code Review Board requires a student to take part in a workshop on academic integrity, the instructor cannot free the student from this obligation).

Usually, if a student was found guilty of a first Honor Code violation, the sanction is a recommendation to the instructor to grade the assignment in question with “0” and to reduce the final course grade by one full step (e.g. from B to C) after the “0” of the assignment has been taken into consideration.

The only possibility for a student to appeal a grade is the Final Grade Appeal. Therefore, a student must wait until the final course grade has been released. Student can only register a complaint about a final course grade. The catalog states:

If a student feels that his or her grade in a course is inconsistent with explicit standards, then he or she should first make an effort to resolve the matter by registering a complaint with the instructor. In the event that this fails to produce a resolution, the student may submit a formal petition to the department in question. This petition should express the grievance and give just cause for the department to intervene. Should the department support the actions of the instructor, then the matter is closed with no further institutional recourse to the student. A department may wish to refer the issue to the dean of the college for final resolution.
When a student feels that his/her academic evaluation has not been fairly rendered, he/she has 30 days after the release of the final grades by the Registrar’s Office to file an appeal.

Encouraging and Maintaining Academic Integrity

The following is a list of best practices for maintaining academic integrity with exams:

  • Have students leave all books, notes, backpacks, cellular devices, and other aids in an inaccessible spot (exception : open-note/open-book tests)
  • Inform students that they may not leave the testing room and return without permission of the faculty member/proctor
  • Inform students that they may not talk to each other
  • Create a designated seating arrangement and put space between students, if possible. If no seating arrangement is specified, the students shall ensure that their line of sight does not create cause for suspicion of cheating.
  • Include a printed statement about academic integrity and the Honor Code on the exam document. (Note: This statement could be one that appears at the end of the exam. The student then signs the statement if he/she has no suspicion of dishonest work. If the statement is left unsigned, he/she will be contacted by the faculty member responsible for the exam. If the statement was purposefully left unsigned, the student in question is asked to indicate the nature of his/her suspicions. An investigation of the suspicions can be pursued, if appropriate, by the faculty member or the Honor Code Review Board [see 509.3].)
  • Verbally remind students of the honor system before the exam
  • Inform the students on the proctoring protocol for the test (Note: While the spirit of the Honor Code would make proctoring unwarranted, the proctoring of exams will be at the discretion of the faculty member.)
  • Instruct the students of the specific procedure for turning in the exam when the students’ work is complete
  • Specify if students are allowed use of any legal “crib sheet” (specified size) during the exam. (Note: doing so may encourage students to think about, synthesize, and organize materials prior to the exam).
  • Faculty members are encouraged to make him/herself available at the exam site, at some point in time or at intervals throughout the exam period, to answer questions related to the exam.

The following is a list of best practices for maintaining academic integrity with homework assignments:

  • Clearly define expectations for the homework assignment.
  • Be explicit about the amount or degree of outside assistance that is acceptable, including if students may collaborate on the assignment.
  • Suggest various forms of acceptable assistance that is available to them, i.e. CAE, scheduling a meeting with the faculty member, tutors, etc. if they should run into a problem with the assignment.
  • State what sources the students are expected to use or not use for the assignment.

The following is a list of best practices for maintaining academic integrity with papers:

  • Explain what plagiarism is and the repercussions for plagiarism at the beginning of the course, through a statement in the syllabus or a handout that they can refer to thereafter. Give students practical guidance on how plagiarism is defined and can be avoided with each paper asssignment.1
  • Assign drafts of papers so that concerns about plagiarism can be addressed early on.
  • Assign focused topics likely to be engaging to students.1
  • Use shorter and more frequent papers, including in-class writing exercises. 1
  • Learn student writing styles. 1
  • Have students submit components of major papers in stages (e.g., start with a proposal and outline). 1
  • Review and comment on how students use citations. 1
  • Ask students to “present” their papers and respond to questions in class. 1

1 Adapted from Gary Pavela. “Advice From Students to Faculty Members on Protecting Academic Integrity.” December 14, 2011.

The following is a list of best practices for maintaining academic integrity with group projects:

  • Develop a clear rubric that explains the expectations of each student in the group.
  • Require notes or other evidence of process from each student.
  • Include a public presentation from the group that requires each student to present.
  • Ask each student to write an evaluation of his/her participation in the project.

The following is a list of best practices for highlighting and discussing academic integrity at the beginning of a course:

  • Include in syllabi or course policy statements a statement affirming the presence and nature of the Honor Code and its applicability to the work students will undertake in this course (see Appendix A for an example syllabus statement).
  • Discuss openly during the first week of classes the presence and nature of the Honor Code, and its importance in preserving academic integrity (see 509.0 of the faculty handbook for language that may assist in this discussion).
  • Remind students, in statements and discussion, that under the provisions of the Honor Code, faculty may and students are expected to report to the Honor Council a student suspected of an Honor Code violation.
  • Include in syllabi and course policy statements, or otherwise make students aware, of a definition of plagiarism and of correct citation techniques as they will apply to that student’s work in that course (see Appendix B for a description of plagiarism).
  • Remind students of the basic policy for reporting Honor Code violations (refer them to the Honor Code section of the Student Handbook [URL to be inserted here]). Also discuss how allowing Honor Code violations to go unreported degrades the value of every student’s Luther College grades and degree, is contrary to Luther’s values, and undermines Luther’s academic prestige.

Practical Tips

The following information is not provided by the Honor Council and is not part of the Luther College policy on Academic Integrity, but rather is a collection of some practical tips. You may use, adapt and share all information without permission or attribution.

In the past, the Honor Code Review Board did not automatically consider a paper that had been submitted in two different classes a violation of the Honor Code. In order to make clear to student that they have to write a new paper or essay, please include in your syllabus or your assignment description that original work is required (e.g. Assignment #2 is an original paper on…).

If you are using test material that is provided by a publisher, be aware that all of those materials are available online, either for free or for purchase, even if you use the latest edition. There is a worldwide market for these materials and it cannot be assumed that students do not have access to Instructors Manuals or test banks. Also, if you are handing back tests to students, please be aware that those are collected and exchanged by students. While the Honor Council does consider the use of an Instructor’s Manual or previous tests a violation of the Honor Code, this is usually very difficult to prove.

While in the past the Faculty Handbook suggested that instructors should not be in the classroom during tests as a sign of trust in the honesty of the students, this is no longer part of the handbook language. Each instructor may decide whether to leave the room or remain there during tests.

Cheating during tests is very difficult for the Honor Council to investigate. When students report a possible case of cheating, it often comes down to “s/he said – s/he said”. Therefore, it is better to create a testing environment that makes cheating more unlikely.

This is also beneficial and important for all students who do not cheat, because they have not to worry about what to do when they see something suspicious (which can be very distracting for them), and they do not have to be afraid that someone might use their answers.

Here are some ways to create a testing environment that is more conducive to academic integrity:

  • There should be room between students while taking the test.
  • Students should leave all backpacks and articles of clothing (jackets, etc.) in the front of the room. They should not have books, papers, or backpacks next to or under the table. They should not put articles of clothing over their chairs, on their laps, or on the table. They should not have anything but writing utensils on the table (also excluding any pencil cases).
  • Some colleagues make a new seating arrangement for each major test. Sometimes, they seat students of similar academic level next to each other.
  • Students should not be allowed to leave the room with the test or a cellphone. They should switch off and put their cellphones in their backpacks or put them on the table in the front of the room. It could be part of the course policy that the use of a cellphone at any time during a test can automatically exclude a student from a test.
  • Tests should be deposited into a closed or locked box once students are done (if the instructor is not present).
  • It is recommended to have different tests if students cannot spread out in your test location, or to use more open answer questions. If instructors do not want to write two completely different tests, it may be enough to have two tests with the questions (and in multiple-choice test: the answers) in a different sequence.
  • When using multiple-choice questions, it is recommended to have questions that allow for more than one right answer and to have questions for which no correct answer is provided. Most test banks do not have these options, thus, changing a test from an Instructor’s Manual in this way will help avoid violations of academic integrity.

There have been several cases where students claimed that they were unclear about what was allowed and what not when it comes to group work and homework. There are good reasons for this confusion, mainly because the rules are very different from one class to the next.

However, there is also conceptual confusion: It is not always clear to student what the pedagogical purposes of group work and homework assignments are. The more they see them as “busy work” and not really contributing to learning, the more they feel it is permissible to “cut corners”.

Also, there is a strong feeling within the student body that collaboration and sharing are important skills, that solving problems together is more necessary in the 21st century than working on assignments on your own, that it is a “waste of time” to answer questions that have been answered a million times before. While this could be dismissed as a cheap excuse, research suggests that the overall attitude of students towards grades and assignments is changing. Therefore, it might be helpful to explain the purpose and goals of an assignment.

In the attached documents, you can find terminology that might help clarify the level of collaboration that is allowed for assignments.

Students up to their senior year demonstrate misperceptions about what it means to paraphrase and what sort of information must be referenced. While many instructors feel that students should have learned these things in school or at least in the first-year Paideia courses, this does not always seem to be the case.

As the Faculty Handbook suggests that “faculty members should have at least one discussion in each course about academic integrity and how it applies to the course” (509.2.1), it might be helpful to remind students again about these issues. Here is additional information you can use: