Academic Integrity Task Force Report

The Academic Integrity Task Force Report is now available in BoardEffect here: https://psufaculty.boardeffect.com/downloads/vfile/1601302

The report is being reviewed by six standing committees (ARSSA, Educational Equity and Campus Environment, Intra-University Relations, LIST, Student Life, and Undergraduate Education), but since it goes to the heart of our educational mission, every Senator should read it and offer feedback.

You may add your comments on this Discussion Forum by entering your comments below and clicking “Post Comment” or within the BoardEffect Discussion Forum linked above by clicking on “+ Reply” adding your comments and clicking “Submit”.

Additionally, we will schedule a forensic session at a plenary meeting as soon as possible.

Thanks for your attention to this critically important report.

Senate Chair Michael Bérubé

One thought on “Academic Integrity Task Force Report

  1. Jennifer P Nesbitt

    Some of this information may come through the Student Life Committee, but these are my points regarding the task force report as it currently exists.

    1. There is much to like in the recommendations. In particular, recommendation #4—“a universal online case management system”—will help guarantee consistency across campuses and colleges in the implementation of sanctions and mediation of cases. The statistics on plagiarism cases (Appendix B) indicate that either plagiarism/cheating fluctuates greatly from year to year or that reporting varies to the degree an administrative unit demonstrates consistent support for the process.
    2. #8 is an excellent goal, and it should be a priority for action and financing: the university created the online systems that are generating new forms of cheating. Faculty have earned the support of the university for their online teaching, and the university can recognize this effort by supporting academic rigor and integrity in this format. “Continue exploration” does not offer a timeline for redressing these concerns.
    3. Recommendation #5 is a helpful expansion of the university’s AI policy, as is the idea of an “online repository of educational materials” (#6).
    4. Penn State York recommends the following additions to recommendation #7 (the expansion of academic sanctions):
    a. Students with an AI case ongoing may not fill out an SRTE form for the course.
    b. Sanctioned students should be prohibited from (or limited in) representing the university as athletes or representatives of the student body.
    5. A “University adjudication committee” centrally located (on which campus?) seems impracticable and may be detrimental to a rigorous enforcement of AI policies in the university. Consistent enforcement would be a more reasonable approach to the goal of stronger, fairer policies throughout the university. Cheating is an institutional violation, but it is also a personal one, locally committed. (In cases of cross-campus or online courses, then an allocation policy that guarantees consistent referral and fair processing will help.) This recommendation also risks elevating a contested violation to a major crime against the university. Secondly, implementing this recommendation (#2) will make local committees essentially useless. Further, it seems unimportant to have a liaison (#3) if there is a committee with a chair, and vice-versa.
    6. Overall, there are concerns that a centralized office will create additional layers of bureaucracy and place additional burdens on faculty. Ease of reporting is an important goal, so requiring “detailed information” and “a syllabus” and proof that “students were instructed” on AI will hinder reporting rather than supporting it.
    7. Finally, an “implementation team” with “at least one” representative from a Commonwealth Campus (recommendation #9, bullet #1) guarantees that any systems and policies will insufficiently take campus logistics, concerns, faculty and students into account. There are 20+ campuses at Penn State—at least 50% of any committee or task force or implementation group should consist of faculty, staff and/or administrators from campuses outside University Park.

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