What to do if you detect cheating or plagiarism?

(This page is paraphrased from the Office of Student Conduct)

Penn now offers faculty the ability to use Turnitin through Blackboard or Canvas Course Sites.

If you see cheating in progress, OSC suggests:

  • If it is possible, immediately and quietly remove or confiscate notes or other materials that the student is using (these materials can be potential evidence). If it is not possible, examine the materials, take notes and make a list of witnesses.
  • Interrupt the impermissible conduct, identify the student(s) involved, record names, and create a seating chart that will help you contact witnesses at a later time, if necessary.
  • Ask students to move apart or change seats.
  • Reiterate your examination-taking expectations/rules.
  • Once you have stopped the impermissible conduct, permit a student to complete the exam, but separate the suspect exam (or exams) from the rest of your pile.

If you suspect cheating after the fact, OSC suggests:

  1. Consult:
    1. with appropriate colleagues, senior faculty, department chairs, or with the Center for Teaching and Learning.
    2. with the Director of the Office of Student Conduct for preliminary advice (this is confidential and involves no commitment to submit a formal disciplinary case) 898-5651.
    3. with policies and procedures manual, such as the Pennbook.
  2. Address the issue as soon as possible:
    1. Keep a copy of the suspected work of academic dishonesty.
    2. Meet with the student promptly and outside the class (you may want to have a witness for this meeting). Describe your specific concerns and ask the student open-ended questions. (For example, ask “what do you have to say about it?”)
    3. If appropriate, try to determine how justified your concerns are by:
      1. checking student’s familiarity with vocabulary or concepts in their work
      2. asking about sources
      3. requesting to see sources/research notes, etc.
  3. Decide consequences:
    1. Do nothing if you have become convinced that there has been no academic dishonesty.
    2. Consider whether this is poor academic work or academic dishonesty.
    3. Consider academic support resources for a student who is struggling to do it right but needs help.
    4. Know and follow University procedures.
    5. Even if you are convinced a student has cheated or lied, treat him/her respectfully, professionally, and candidly.
    6. If you think the student has been dishonest, explain the consequences (e.g. refer matter to the Office of Student Conduct require rewriting, extra work, or other measures you think are appropriate.)
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