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[Fresh] Academic Integrity at Villanova

Interview with Dr. Craig Wheeland, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chair of the Academic Integrity Board.

Fresh@News: What does the phrase "academic integrity" mean at Villanova?

Villanova expects students to pursue knowledge in an honest and trustworthy way.  Upholding this tradition supports the development of our student’s character and insures that grades earned will reflect accurately the student’s performance.  As we say in the statement of purpose in our Academic Integrity Code: “When one comes to Villanova, one joins an academic community founded on the search for knowledge in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. The intellectual health of the community depends on this trust and draws nourishment from the integrity and mutual respect of each of its members.”

Fresh@News: Is cheating a problem at Villanova?

I’m pleased to report Villanova students support a culture of academic integrity.  Although we do have a few cases of cheating on exams and various kinds of plagiarism, these incidents are rare.  When a student violates our Code we use the incident as an educational opportunity and develop an appropriate program to help the student learn from his or her mistake. 

Fresh@News:  Does Villanova have education efforts to help students learn what is cheating and what is not?

We use various practices to keep students informed, including presentations, notices in course syllabi, classroom exercises and websites.  The Academic Integrity Code and Policy as well as other information can be found at the Office of Academic Affairs web site: www.villanova.edu/vpaa.  In February 2008, Falvey Library in partnership with the Office of Academic Affairs launched a new website called the Academic Integrity Gateway.  The Gateway not only has our Academic Integrity Code and Policy but also numerous interactive quizzes for students to test their knowledge, as well as numerous links to resources on writing research papers and documenting references correctly. Instructors use this website to help students learn correct practices.  Finally, we always advise students to ask their instructors when in doubt about the permissible practices in their courses.

Fresh@News:  What happens to students who are caught cheating on their work?

The instructor completes a form explaining the violation of the Code, attaching the evidence and assigning a grade penalty.  Normally the instructor discusses the violation with the student.  The form goes to the Dean’s office.  The Dean’s office will notify the student in writing that he or she can accept responsibility for the violation or appeal the allegation.  If the student accepts responsibility, then the Dean will arrange an educational program appropriate for the student. If the student earns his or her degree without any additional violations, we expunge the record and we do not report the incident.  Although Villanova will not report a violation that has been expunged, a student should always honestly explain the Code violation when asked about it. A single integrity violation that we have expunged, but is reported by the student, does not prevent students from attending graduate school or law school or obtaining a job.  I also will provide a letter of recommendation to a student whose record we have expunged if the student asks me for one.

Fresh@news:  What happens if a student feels that he or she is unjustly accused of violating the code of academic integrity?

A student may appeal the allegation.  The appeal comes to me in my capacity as Chair of the Academic Integrity Board.  I arrange for a panel of three faculty and two students to hear the appeal.  Our goal is to make sure the student and instructor are able to present all the information needed to have their views heard.  The five-member panel decides if the student is responsible or not responsible.  If the panel finds the student responsible, then the Dean’s office will arrange for the appropriate educational program and the grade penalty is imposed.  If the panel finds the student not responsible, then the grade penalty is removed and no record of the incident is retained.

Fresh@News:  Does Villanova have an Honor Code?

We do not have an Honor Code like some institutions have because the procedures we use to uphold academic integrity differ from the procedures typically found in Honor Codes.  An Honor Code usually requires students to report violations committed by other students.  We do not require students to report.  Our instructors also proctor exams, which is a type of monitoring not permitted under some versions of an Honor Code.  Finally we sometimes use an on-line search service to see if a student has plagiarized a paper.  Again, some Honor Codes would not use such a service.  Aside from these procedural differences, the kinds of practices defined as integrity violations are consistent with the content of an Honor Code.  For more information about Honor Codes and Academic Integrity Codes visit the Center for Academic Integrity at: www.academicintegrity.org

Fresh@News:  What advice do you have for parents?

We often find that students who violated our Code did so while feeling the pressure of earning good grades or the pressure to meet the deadlines for assignments.  If you notice your child is having trouble with assignments then encourage him/her to talk to the instructor and perhaps visit the Writing Center, the Math Center, and/or the Counseling Center (study skills and more), whichever is appropriate, to manage the assignments better.  Finally, encourage your child to visit our Academic Integrity Gateway at: www.library.villanova.edu/academic_integrity in order to read our Academic Integrity Code and complete the first interactive quiz. 







Sue Ciccone

Director of New Student Orientation,

Assistant for Special Projects

Villanova University

207 Dougherty Hall