Academic Integrity

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 by all members of the University community 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. 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. Penn State Altoona’s Academic Integrity Committee promotes the University’s expectations for academic integrity and reviews contested cases of academic dishonesty, which 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.

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 (Senate Policy 44-40; Proctoring of Examinations). 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 Conduct. 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 Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning maintains the academic integrity procedures of the college and records cases of academic dishonesty. Please direct questions and send signed Academic Integrity Forms to Peter Moran in W110B, Smith Building (814-949-5283, plm150@psu.edu).

Procedures

Penn State Altoona has developed the following guidelines to advise faculty and students in cases of possible academic integrity violations.

  1. When Academic Misconduct is Suspected:
    1. 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.
    2. When evidence suggests that academic misconduct has occurred, the faculty member will enter the charge and the academic sanction on the college’s Academic Integrity Form, will sign the form, and then convey the charge and sanction to the student for his or her signature (in person or through other methods if necessary). [Note: If the student is a member of the Schreyer Honors College, please refer to Section E for additional clarification.]
    3. After reviewing the allegation of academic misconduct with the student, the faculty member will inform the student that he/she has five business days before the student has to make a decision and sign the Academic Integrity Form as to whether or not to accept the allegation/s and/or academic sanction. A student’s failure to sign and return the Academic Integrity Form, by the specified deadline, will be construed as not contesting the charge or sanction and the adjudication process will go forward as defined by these procedures.
    4. 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 a disciplinary action in conjunction with the Academic Integrity Committee and the Office of Student Conduct. 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.
    5. Throughout the academic integrity process, the authority to administer academic sanctions remains the responsibility of the instructor and the Academic Integrity Committee, as appropriate. In situations where a disciplinary sanction is requested and referred to the Office of Student Conduct, the application of academic sanctions will be carried out by the college, while the application of any disciplinary sanctions will be carried out by the Office of Student Conduct in consultation with the Academic Integrity Committee of the college.
    6. Once a student has been informed that academic misconduct is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. The Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning is responsible for notifying the Office of the University Registrar when academic misconduct is suspected in a course. 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 Conduct will confer with the Assistant 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 created, if appropriate. In such a case, the Assistant 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.
    7. If, after notification of a violation of academic integrity, a student fails to sign the Academic Integrity Form by the specified deadline, the adjudication process will go forward.
    8. 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 conclusion of the review.
    9. The Assistant 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.
  2. If the Student Accepts Responsibility for the Violation and the Proposed Academic Sanction:
    1. The faculty member asks the student to sign the college's Academic Integrity Form, then forwards the form to the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning.
    2. In all cases, before submitting the Academic Integrity Form to the Office of Student Conduct for recording, it is the responsibility of the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning to determine through consultation with Student Conduct if the student has prior academic integrity violation(s).
    3. If a prior recorded violation is discovered after the student has admitted responsibility and accepted the academic sanction(s), this additional information should be reviewed and a new academic sanction may be considered by the college Academic Integrity Committee in consultation with the faculty member. Information concerning prior academic misconduct may not be used as a basis for judging a student's guilt, but it may be used as a basis for imposing additional academic sanctions. If the sanction is to be changed, a new form should be provided to the student and he/she should have the opportunity to accept or contest the charge given the increase in sanction. If the student accepts, the academic sanction will be assigned and the case will be closed and sent to the Office of Student Conduct. If the student is a member of the Schreyer Honors College, the Schreyer Honors College will be notified of the outcome of the case by the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. [Note: Please refer to Section E for additional clarification.] If the student chooses to contest, refer to section C. If the college’s Academic Integrity Committee, in consultation with the faculty member, wishes to maintain the original sanction, the case will be closed and sent on to the Office of Student Conduct for record keeping. If the student is a member of the Schreyer Honors College, the Schreyer Honors College will be notified of the outcome of the case by the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. [Note: Please refer to Section E for additional clarification.]

      If the college Academic Integrity Committee Chair, in consultation with the faculty member, wishes to maintain the originally assigned academic sanction but now add disciplinary sanction(s) the Committee will assign the academic sanction and send a recommended disciplinary sanction to the Office of Student Conduct along with the Academic Integrity Form and other relevant documentation. The Office of Student Conduct will meet with the student and review the recommendation, as well as precedent guidelines in determining the appropriate disciplinary sanction to assign. If the Office of Student Conduct desires to reject the disciplinary recommendation, the Office must consult with the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning and, if available, the chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.

      If the college Academic Integrity Committee Chair, in consultation with the faculty member, wishes to modify the originally assigned academic sanction to a more serious academic sanction, as well as add a disciplinary sanction, a new form should be provided to the student and he/she should have the opportunity to accept or contest the charge given the increase in sanction. If the student accepts, the academic sanction will be assigned and a recommended disciplinary sanction will be sent to the Office of Student Conduct along with the Academic Integrity Form and other relevant documentation. The Office of Student Conduct will review the recommendation, as well as precedent guidelines in determining the appropriate disciplinary sanction to assign. If the Office of Student Conduct desires to reject the disciplinary recommendation, they must consult with the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning and, if available, the chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.
    4. Upon final disposition of the case, the Office of Student will communicate the outcome to the college Academic Integrity Chair and Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. If the student is a member of the Schreyer Honors College, the Schreyer Honors College will be notified of the final disposition by the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. [Note: Please refer to Section E for additional clarification.]
  3. If the Student Does Not Admit Responsibility for an Academic Integrity Violation:
    1. The faculty member asks the student to sign the campus or college's Academic Integrity Form indicating that the charge or sanction(s) is being contested and then forwards the form to the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning who will notify the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.
    2. The college Academic Integrity Committee will conduct a review in accordance with their respective procedures.
    3. If the student is found responsible for the alleged misconduct by the Academic Integrity Committee, the Committee will then be informed if the student has prior Academic Integrity violations. This information will be obtained from Student Conduct by the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning but not made available to the Academic Integrity Committee until the determination of responsibility occurs. With this information, the Academic Integrity Committee will determine the sanction to be assigned. If the sanction is only an academic sanction, the Academic Integrity Committee will assign the final charge and sanction and close the case. The Office of Student Conduct will be notified of the outcome for record-keeping. If the student is a member of the Schreyer Honors College, the Schreyer Honors College will be notified of the final disposition by the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. [Note: Please refer to Section E for additional clarification.] If the Academic Integrity committee determines that disciplinary sanctions should be considered, the student is notified by the college that he/she has been found responsible for the charge, and that the academic sanction will be put into place. In addition, the student's case will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for consideration of a disciplinary sanction. The Academic Integrity committee will also send their recommendation for a disciplinary sanction.
    4. When communicating with a student who has been found responsible by an Academic Integrity Committee and has been recommended for disciplinary sanctions, the Office of Student Conduct will review precedent guidelines, as well as the Academic Integrity Committee's recommendation, in determining the appropriate disciplinary sanction to assign. If the Office of Student Conduct desires to reject the disciplinary recommendation, they must consult with the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning and, if available, the chair of the Academic Integrity Committee.
    5. If the student is found not responsible for the alleged misconduct by the Academic Integrity committee, the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning is responsible for notifying the Office of the University Registrar that academic misconduct has not occurred in the course. The student may drop or withdraw from the course at any time.
  4. Sanctions:
    1. 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 Conduct, faculty have the option to also recommend a full range of disciplinary sanctions available to Student Conduct 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).
    2. "XF" sanctions are assigned only after consultation with the instructor, the Academic Integrity Committee, and Student Conduct. 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.
    3. With any recommendation to Student Conduct 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 Conduct 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 Conduct.
    4. Through the Student Conduct 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 a dismissal from the academic program. On those occasions, students may request a sanction review from the Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning. A student assigned any level of disciplinary sanction will have the right to request a sanction review from the Office of Student Conduct.
  5. Schreyer Honors College Students:
    1. 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 Conduct.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
  6. Students Enrolled in Intercollege Majors or Minors:
    For intercollege programs, the Dean of the College (UP), the Assistant 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 Conduct or Student Conduct designee and the sanction review process, when applicable.
  7. 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, Continuing Education, Cooperative Education, internships, study abroad programs, etc.) are subject to the University Academic Integrity Policy as implemented by Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning who has academic responsibility for the program, course or activity.
  8. Record Keeping:
    1. The Assistant 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 Conduct. The specific information reported to Student Conduct 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.
    2. The Office of Student Conduct alone is responsible for the central record keeping and disclosing of student disciplinary records at the University, including academic dishonesty cases. Student Conduct 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 Conduct. The Office of Student Conduct will disclose student discipline record information to third parties in accordance with federal law (FERPA) and the University policy on managing Student Discipline Records.

For more information:

Peter Moran

Mr. Peter L. Moran

Assistant Dean for Policy and Planning
Academic Affairs

Office: W110 Smith Building
Phone: 814-949-5283
Email: @psu.edu