Student Conduct Resources for Instructors, Advisors and Teaching Assistants

The following resources are available to assist instructors, advisors and TAs in matters of academic integrity.

Sample blurb for an Arts & Sciences course syllabus

All students are expected to adhere to high standards of academic integrity. In this class especially, that means that all work presented as original must, in fact, be original, and the ideas and contributions of others must always be appropriately acknowledged. Quotations must, of course, be acknowledged, but so must summaries, paraphrases, and the ideas of others. Please see the university policies website for the university’s policy on academic integrity. If you have any doubts or questions about documentation requirements, please ask me. Since this course is offered through the College of Arts & Sciences, any violations of academic integrity policy will be referred to the College’s Academic Integrity Officer.

Upon arrival at Washington University you signed a statement indicating that you have read and that you understand and that you will abide by the policies of the College of Arts and Sciences regarding academic integrity. You will be expected to honor that commitment. Academic honesty is at the very core of a university’s mission of research, teaching, and learning. We cannot grow and develop as scholars and citizens of this community without honoring these promises that we make to one another. Remember: In many cases, academic integrity violations are the result of getting behind in coursework and making bad decisions under pressure. Keep up with your assignments, ask questions when you are unsure what is expected of you, and do not give in to the temptation to cut corners. Many today would agree that ready availability of prose on the internet presents greater temptation than in years past to cheat; many would also acknowledge that plagiarism is easier to detect in the computer age. The best way to guard against such a situation is to get an early start: don’t neglect your coursework, don’t procrastinate.

One further note: sanctions from the Academic Integrity Committee or the University Judicial Board range from warning, failure of an assignment, or failure of a course, to probation, suspension, or expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. You should also be aware that graduate and professional schools routinely ask the Dean’s Office to report serious violations of academic integrity to their admissions committees. Professional organizations such as the various state Bar Associations also request this information, as do some employers. The university answers all such inquiries fully and with exactitude. Hasty decisions at 4 a.m. the day before an assignment is due can have a longer train of consequences than you imagine.

Strategies for prevention and detection
Adapted from:
1) Geist, N.K. (Spring 1993). “Confronting Cases of Academic Dishonesty: Where policy and Practice Meet.” Synthesis: Law and Policy in Higher Education.
2) Kibler, W.L., Nuss, E.M., Paterson, B.G., & Pavela, G. (1998). Academic Integrity and Student Development: Legal Issues, Policy Perspectives. Asheville, NC.: College Administration Publications.

Type of Dishonesty

Preventive Measures

How to Detect

All Types of Cheating

  • Clarify policies regarding cheating and penalties for those who do cheat
  • Stress students’ ethical and moral responsibilities to avoid cheating and to help prevent others from cheating
  • Constant attention to details
  • Student assistance

Test Preparation

Obtaining a copy of the test
  • Test should be secured in a safe place by instructor from formation to administration.
  • When word processing is used in test preparation, avoid leaving the information on the computer. If possible, place the information on a disk which can be secured in a safe place.
  • Tests should be original, not repetitions of exams given previous semesters.
  • Student’s responses seem beyond abilities
  • Pattern of wrong answers by students known to associate with each other


Copying or Passing Answers
  • Instructors should walk around the room.
  • When giving multiple choice or short answer tests, alternate test forms should be used. Warn students prior to test.
  • Spread students out using randomized seating so that every other column of seats is empty.
  • Carefully proctor exams
Crib sheets or other means of having answers in the classroom
  • All books, papers, and personal belongings should be stored under the student’s seat or, preferably, in the front of the classroom.
  • Paper should be provided for any test answers and any scratch work.
  • If blue books are to be used, require students to turn them in blank at the class period prior to the test. The books can be distributed at the start of the test.
  • Give essay rather than True/False and multiple choice tests when possible.
  • Do not permit any communication between students.
  • Test pick-up: have students leave their test package on their desks. This will prevent switching papers and will allow detection of copying by neighbors by answer patterns.
  • Carefully proctor exams
“Ringer” taking the test for another student
  • Have each student display their photo ID on the desk. Proctor can go around and check for substitutions.
  • Have each student hand in each test personally and present his/her ID. The instructor, having inspected the ID, checks his/her roster, the name on the test, and initials the test.
  • Have each student sign his/her answer sheet. Signatures can be compared if a question arises over who actually took the exam.
  • Carefully proctor exams
  • Check student IDs
“Stooge” who sits in on the exam and leaves
  • Number all tests before distribution. Be sure all tests are returned. If one is missing, be sure it does not show up later
  • If a student needs to leave the room during a test, have him/her hand in the exam until he/she returns
  • Be vigilant–try to have a proctor watch each exit

Following the Test

Turning in a lifted exam as test taken in class
  • Do not leave exams or grade book on the desk open or unattended. Keep in locked safe place
  • If a test is discovered missing at the end of the exam, be sure it does not reappear as a completed test
  • Close observation
Changing grades on exams
  • Mark grades in grade book prior to returning tests
  • Photocopy or electronically scan tests of those suspected before returning them
Changing answers on exams
  • Warn students that some exams will be photocopied before returning to detect changes
  • If grades are placed on a computer, insure security is of the highest level. Place grades on disk, if possible, so that the disk can be safely locked up

Take-Home Tests

Take-home test done by “expert”
  • Avoid giving take-home tests
  • Require oral presentations
  • Solution done in a way not covered by instructor
  • Looks “professional”


Copy solutions from instructor’s manual
  • Switch to a book with no manual
  • Compare solutions with manual
Copy solutions from fellow students
  • Count homework as only a small percentage of final grade
  • Clearly articulate to students guidelines for group work
  • Careful grading to look for similarities
Copy from old sets from previous semesters
  • Give different homework assignments each semester
Get report done by “expert”
  • Ask for oral presentation
  • Solution done in a way not covered by instructor or that seems beyond student’s abilities

Writing Assignments

Plagiarism, using a previous paper for a current class, and hiring a writer
  • Place limits on topic selection.
  • Avoid topics that are too general. This decreases the likelihood of using a “paper mill”
  • Change topic lists frequently
  • Establish precise format for paper and stick to it
  • Require a tentative bibliography early in the term. Require library location numbers
  • Require an outline of the paper in advance of the final due date
  • Do not permit late topic changes
  • Give pop test on basic knowledge
  • Require notes and rough drafts
  • Use in-class writing assignments
  • Keep papers on file for five years
  • Look for significant fluctuations in writing style
  • Looks “professional”
  • Look for work that appears to clearly be beyond student’s ability
  • Compare with in-class writing assignments

For faculty who suspect student misconduct in an ArtSci class

Letter from Sean McWilliams, Acdemic Integrity Officer of the College of Arts & Sciences

If you believe that a student has cheated on an exam, plagiarized all or a portion of a paper, collaborated inappropriately on an assignment, changed exam answers and asked for a regrade, or otherwise behaved in a dishonest manner, we ask that you bring the matter to our attention in the Dean’s Office.  We have a Committee on Academic Integrity, made up of two members of the faculty and two undergraduate students, which convenes to consider charges of academic dishonesty made against students.  Placing cases before the Committee removes you from the role of sole decision-maker, ensures some measure of fairness and consistency across departmental lines, and allows us to document incidents of dishonesty in a central location so that repeat offenders can be identified.

The Committee conducts hearings within 30 days of receiving the formal charge from the faculty member.  Penalties for academic dishonesty are usually a reprimand; the Committee may also recommend to the faculty member that the student fail the assignment in question or fail the course.  Especially serious cases or repeat offenders are referred to a university-wide Judicial Board that has the power to suspend or expel undergraduates from the university.

If your case arises at the end of the semester, please leave the student’s grade blank in E-grades.

To proceed before the Committee on Academic Integrity, I will need from you:

  • A summary (in letter or memo form) of why you believe the student has behaved dishonestly
  • Evidence for your belief: e.g. the source(s) from which material was plagiarized, names of eyewitnesses to exam cheating, other students’ papers which are too similar, copies of original vs. re-submitted exam papers, etc. (ArtSci Computing and the Teaching Center/ Blackboard Service can provide technical help with finding plagiarized sources from the internet or elsewhere.)
  • A copy of the assignment, if it is not on the syllabus
  • A copy of the course syllabus, which includes any instruction you provide about academic integrity and the consequences of dishonest behavior

All of this material will be given to the accused student(s) to aid in preparation for the hearing, and it will be circulated to the Committee before the hearing, along with any written statement the student wishes to furnish.

The hearing will be conducted in the following manner:

  • The instructor will be asked to summarize the complaint.
  • The committee may pose questions to the instructor.
  • The student will be asked to give his/her side of the story.
  • The committee may pose questions to the student.
  • Follow-up questions may be posed to either the instructor or the student by the Committee.
  • The instructor and student are free to leave; the Committee stays and decides whether the student behaved in a manner that breaches the standards of academic integrity, and – if so – decides what sanctions should be imposed.
  • The result is communicated to the Dean of the College, who writes the formal letter to the student. Once you receive a copy of the letter, then you may enter the appropriate grade.
  • A student who admits to all charges may waive his/her right to a hearing and request an expedited sanction from the Academic Integrity Officer for the College.

Sean McWilliams
Assistant Dean & Academic Integrity Officer for the College

Discussion Topics for ArtSci advisors and TAs

Key points to consider in a discussion of academic integrity with advisees

Set a positive tone

  • We expect that our students behave honestly and honorably in everything they do.
  • In a university setting, nothing is more important than academic honesty—here, you could talk about researchers’ needing to trust the reliability and completeness of published findings, the importance of attributing properly the ideas and statements of others, etc. You might draw an example from your own discipline.

What are the most frequent reasons students resort to cheating?

  • Competition for grades—you could address the importance of learning as opposed to just earning grades; and point out the unfairness to other students that results from gaining a higher score through unethical means.
  • Stress/poor self management—this is an occasion to reinforce other messages about managing time well, keeping up, and utilizing all the support services that are available, e.g. TA and faculty office hours, help sessions, tutors, etc.
  • Confusion about expectations and rules—remind students that if they are not certain of a professor’s expectations concerning collaboration on assignments, use of outside sources and attribution of source material, etc., it is the student’s responsibility to ASK.

How we handle accusations of cheating in the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington University:

  • Each case is treated individually. For classes in the College of Arts & Sciences, accusations are heard by a Committee that is 50% students, 50% faculty. The student has an opportunity to tell what happened, as does the faculty member. The Committee asks questions until the members believe they understand all aspects of the situation, including extenuating circumstances, and then decides whether to impose a penalty.
  • Penalties might be a reprimand, probation, or referral to the University-wide Judicial Board, which has the power to suspend or expel undergraduates. A grade penalty for the assignment or course is usually recommended to the instructor as well.
  • Graduate schools (especially medical and law schools) will ask applicants about academic integrity violations during the undergraduate years. While such violations will not automatically disqualify an applicant, it is certainly much better for a student to be able to report truthfully that there are no violations in his/her record.
Academic integrity for TAs

TAs are encouraged to discuss academic integrity with their students throughout the semester, especially as workload increases or major projects are assigned.

For more on this subject please see the Teaching Assistant Handbook (PDF).

Class Environment

Above all, it is important to maintain an atmosphere of high expectations for both the quality and the integrity of work provided by students.

For questions, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards or call 314-935-7296.