Plagiarism Story

An amendment to the UA academic policy will include the act of buying work from peers or other sources as an academic violation. 

 

UA officials passed changes that will make buying work from other students or sources, an academic violation.

The amendment, which was recommended by members of the Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Code Committee at Faculty Senate, passed during the Faculty Senate’s meeting April 10.

The changes include buying, selling, or otherwise obtaining or providing academic work to be used for the purpose of contract cheating, according to proposed changes.

Contract cheating is a form of academic dishonesty where students have academic work completed on their behalf for academic credit, according to the Faculty Senate minutes from April 10.

“The revisions are primarily focused on providing additional clarity about existing policies regarding faculty and students,” said Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor for university relations. “The new policy that was developed pertains to contract cheating, which was defined and accounted for within the sanction rubric.”

The updated policy provides a proactive way to help communicate that this type of activity is not allowed, Rushing said.

The policy concerning other people substituting for a student in a graded activity was also updated to include the use of i-clickers to take quizzes for other students, according to the faculty senate minutes from the April 10 meeting.

Changes are not made to the academic integrity policies often, chair of the Faculty Senate Kathleen Lehman said.

There are four violation levels and a certain number of sanction points are associated with each violation level, according to the UA Academic Initiatives and Integrity page.

Students receive sanction points when an Academic Integrity Policy is violated. Level Zero violations receive zero sanction points, Level One violations receive .5 sanction points, Level Two violation receives one sanction point, each Level Three violations receive three sanction points. Sanction points are cumulative over a student’s time on campus, according to the sanction rubric.

If a student receives two or more sanction points the student will fail the course and be subject to suspension or expulsion, according to the Academic Initiatives and Integrity page. If a student receives three or more sanction points, they will be expelled permanently.

In May 2018 an amendment updated the university policy on using past works.

“The policy regarding providing false information is most typically applied to situations in which a student provides false information to an instructor about an assignment, missing class, etc,” Rushing said. “It can also apply to providing false information to the Academic Integrity Monitor or the AUAIB during the process of investigating an alleged incident.”

Sophomore Jake Ellsworth, who is majoring in history, has never submitted previously used work, but he has used outside resources while taking online quizzes and doing other assignments, he said.

He would use Quizlet to find answers for American history assignments, Ellsworth said.

“Sometimes it helps explain things more, but most of the time it’s to check my answers,” Ellsworth said. “There’s usually the exact chapter you’re working on. I use it to double check and get a better grade.”

He doubts the changes to the policy will stop people from cheating, Ellsworth said

Sophomore Chyna Mayer, who is a theater major, did not know what self-plagiarism was until senior year of high school, she said.

“It’s mine, who cares if I use it again?” Mayer said.

Mayer thinks students are more vocal about cheating in college than they were in high school, she said.

“In college, nobody feels bad about it,” Mayer said. “We’re like, ‘Yeah absolutely.’ We’re just trying to make it.”

Online resources, as well as group chats, make it easier for students to help each other, Mayer said.

“I’ve used group chats and I’ve been the perpetrator as well,” Mayer said. “I’ll help somebody else out, and I always try to say stuff like, ‘Use this to check your answers.’”

Contract cheating is using websites and paying to have work done or using other people to take a test, Lehman said.

“That specifically has not been in the policy before,” Lehman said. “I think the academic integrity office has seen more of that behavior, so they wanted to be very specific about having it as a policy.”

Andrew Butler, an English graduate assistant, has turned in two students for academic dishonesty during his four years on campus, but sees three to four instances a semester, he said. When he sees that something seems out of place, he points it out as a warning.

“You’re aware that plagiarism exists, it’s really frustrating that the same person who can’t string a sentence together on in-class written assignments can somehow turn in an airtight essay,” Butler said.

He has not had any teaching experiences with self-plagiarism, but he can see the temptation for it, even in graduate school, Butler said.

 

Abbi Ross is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where she has been a staff reporter since March 2019.

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