One of the goals of the faculty of the College of Engineering is to prepare individuals to behave professionally and ethically throughout their careers. Academic integrity involves an allegiance to a set of values, principal among which is honesty with respect to intellectual efforts. In particular, the standards of personal integrity and trustworthiness that the faculty expects of students are embedded in the college's engineering student creed, based on the Engineer's Creed of the National Society of Professional Engineers:
As an engineering student, I dedicate myself to becoming an engineering professional. As an engineer I will use my professional knowledge and skill for the advancement and betterment of human welfare. In my studies and in my professional career, I pledge
Simply put, the guiding principle of academic integrity, whether as a student or as a faculty member or as a practicing professional, is that one's submitted work must be that individual's, and only that individual's work.
Violations of academic integrity by a student are serious offenses that call into question the student's readiness to enter engineering practice. The importance that the faculty places on personal integrity cannot be overemphasized. Although the College of Engineering does not have a written Honor Code, it must be understood by all constituencies that academic dishonesty cannot be tolerated.
All forms of academic dishonesty are violations of University policy, as discussed in detail in the University Catalog. The responsibilities of the student, the involved faculty member(s) and the administration are clearly delineated there, and the discussion there is hereby incorporated into this statement.
Violations of academic integrity have serious consequences. In the past, offenders have typically been placed on probation, suspended or expelled, based on the flagrancy of the case. In some cases, students' academic careers have been ruined by a serious act of dishonesty, along with the students' hopes, dreams and personal reputations. The lesson is simple – understand all of what the phrase "to practice in none but honest enterprise" means and practice it without exception! The Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, makes all final decisions regarding consequences of violations.
The following discussion is presented to make the college's attitude toward academic dishonesty clear. Collectively, it is meant to define our college's policy and procedures. Any questions should be directed first to your department chair.
Section I. Academic Dishonesty Can Take Many Forms
First of all, let us be clear on what constitutes academic dishonesty. The following commonly accepted list is not exhaustive, but identifies the varieties of form that academic dishonesty takes.
Cheating on Quizzes, Tests, Examinations or Laboratory Exercises
Individual or group activity for the purpose of dishonestly obtaining and/or distributing testable information prior to, during, or after an examination. Examples of dishonest activities include, but are not limited to:
Any attempt to represent the words or ideas of another (whether published or unpublished) as one's own. Examples of such activities include, but are not limited to:
Alteration of Academic Records
Section II. "But..."
Students caught cheating sometimes offer the following defenses as if they were justifications. The college's response follows each quotation.
"The professor didn’t forbid this, so doing it is okay."
"I was just helping my friend."
All students are here to learn. So, by all means help your friends learn but don’t help your friends lie! If a student hands in somebody else’s work under his/her name, and asks for all the credit, then that student is lying. Don’t help anyone do that. There have been instances in this college in which a student "helped" a friend, with the result that when both were caught, both were expelled.
"I am allowed to use old homework solutions, tests and lab write-ups as 'study aids'."
Yes, provided you obtained them legally, and were allowed to use them as "study aids" with the instructor's prior knowledge and explicit approval. That means that you used them not to earn points but rather to help learn the material. You are not allowed to copy them, and then hand the result in to the instructor with the claim that it is solely your work, and that you should get all the credit for it. If you do that, you are lying to the professor and the professor has every right to get upset.
"Everybody else does it."
This statement is both childish and untrue. What is true, unfortunately, is that some students do indeed feel that they must cheat to pass a class. You must know some of them. Think about them. They depend on people in authority not "finding out" about their dishonesty, even though peers may realize that they can't be trusted. In reality, of course, once being labeled "dishonest", such individuals will be suspect in everything they do; the condemnation is total and is irreversible.
The price of being discovered is high. Such a flaw in an engineer's character is often fatal to a career. As an engineer, none of your calculations, designs, inventions, proposals, or presentations will be acceptable. Companies just can't afford to employ dishonest engineers, nor can the engineering profession, based as it is on the public's trust, permit them to remain as members. The time to learn that lesson is now.
"It was just an honest mistake. I forgot the rules."
The ethical rules we're talking about here are commonly accepted throughout the global engineering community – both in academics and in practice. "Honest" mistakes happen and honest adults take responsibility for them. Know the rules and follow them.
"The professor did not give me a big formal hearing."
The professor does not have to give you a big formal hearing, only a chance to respond to the allegation. Big formal hearings come later in the process.
"The professor can’t "prove" that I cheated."
We are not talking about sending you to prison! The standard of proof is not that of a criminal trial. The professor does not have to prove that you are guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Rather a "preponderance of evidence" is enough. As long as the potentially innocent explanations are much less likely than the "guilty" explanations, the professor has enough evidence to proceed. Look at it from the professor's point of view: If two identical papers are handed in and are both absolutely correct, this is reasonable, but if each of them has exactly the same single error, this is very suspect!
"As an engineer, I'm going to be working in teams. That's what I was doing. This is not cheating."
It's true that in practice, engineering teams are composed of specialists brought together to collaborate on a particular project, each bringing his/her own expertise to the project. However, each member of the team is individually responsible for his/her specific contributions. Each member undergoes individual personnel evaluations, and each member as an individual receives recognition and reward. In industry, if you claim group efforts as your own individual work, the consequences to you are usually negative and immediate! Even though you may be part of a team, it is only your work for which you may claim credit. You should learn that lesson while you are still a student!
Section III. Procedures
Once a student is accused of cheating by a faculty member, here are the step-by-step procedures that the College of Engineering follows:
If an instructor suspects cheating, the instructor should provide the student with an opportunity to respond to the suspicion. The instructor should proceed in a fashion that respects the confidentiality of all students. The instructor is not obligated to show all the evidence to the student or have a formal hearing. As long as the student has been given a chance to respond, it is up to the instructor to determine if the evidence is clear and convincing.
The University is committed to maintaining academic integrity throughout the university community. Academic dishonesty is a serious offense that can diminish the quality of scholarship, the academic environment, the academic reputation, and the quality of a Cal Poly Pomona degree. The following policy is intended to define clearly academic dishonesty at Cal Poly Pomona and to state the responsibility of students, faculty and administrators relating to this subject.
All forms of academic dishonesty at Cal Poly Pomona are a violation of university policy and will be considered a serious offense. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:
The responsibility of all students is to be informed of what constitutes academic dishonesty and to follow the policy. Cal Poly Pomona students who come from various international educational systems and wish to understand better the expectations of the American educational system are encouraged to speak with an international student advisor in the International Center.
A student who is aware of another student’s academic dishonesty is encouraged to report the instance to the instructor of the class, the test administrator, or the head of the department within which the course is offered. A student who is reported by the instructor to the Director of Judicial Affairs will receive a letter with this accusation.
The responsibility of the faculty, instructors or test administrators is to clarify their positions on academic dishonesty to their classes early in each class. The instructor is encouraged to report each instance of academic dishonesty to the Director of Judicial Affairs. In addition to reporting each instance, each instructor shall address the problem in the narrow context of the individual class. Any form of academic dishonesty in class could result in a failing grade for the assignment related to the instance or in a failing grade for the class.
The responsibility of the administration is to address the cases of academic dishonesty from the disciplinary standpoint. Each case that is referred to the administration will be reviewed by the Office of Judicial Affairs and an appropriate action will be taken. As a reasonable norm for an average magnitude offense, a student’s first instance of academic dishonesty should result in a probation period with the student’s name placed temporarily on file for academic dishonesty and the student will be informed of this. The second report should result in the student being suspended from the University for the quarter and the following quarter, with the student’s name placed permanently on file for academic dishonesty. The third instance should result in the end of a student’s career at Cal Poly Pomona. The administration has the responsibility to ensure that the system-wide guidelines regarding student discipline are met in Cal Poly Pomona’s attempt to ensure academic integrity.