Published: Jan. 13, 2023

The purpose of the Honor Code is to create an environment where students can succeed in a fair and honest way. It allows academic integrity to flourish by recognizing the importance of trust, respect and responsibility.

But when they are overwhelmed with new classes or in a rush to get things done, they may intentionally or unintentionally engage in academic dishonesty due to the pressure around succeeding academically. While the consequences of this may limit their chances for achieving academic success, there are things faculty and staff can do proactively to help ensure that students are not making these mistakes. 

Here are five things faculty and staff should know that will help students understand and follow the Honor Code.

CU Boulder Honor Code standards may be new for some students

Every student has a different educational background. Whether they are a first-year, transfer, international or domestic student, the CU Boulder Honor Code standards may be different or stricter than their previous experiences. Encourage your students to review CU’s Honor Code and to come to you if they have any questions about Honor Code policies in your class.

You may also consider reminding your students about the impact of violating the Honor Code. Here are some examples that you could communicate to your class:

  • Recognize that CU faculty have a responsibility to report any suspected academic misconduct.
  • Engaging in academic misconduct can negatively affect others.
  • Being found responsible for violating the Honor Code can result in greater impacts than just a poor grade. 

Be sure to remind students that getting support proactively can help prevent adverse outcomes. Students can reach out to faculty or Student Support & Case Management when they need support. 

Let your students know that Honor Code violations may be different in each class

Make sure students are informed about Honor Code violations at the beginning of the semester and before big projects or exams. It’s most useful to use specific examples that are related to your course and to reference the specific sections in your syllabus. While there are campus-wide academic integrity expectations, there may be standards that are unique to your class. Faculty should consider what cheating would look like in your class and not assume students will know your expectations.

For example, in-person versus remote classes may have different expectations. Some faculty may encourage open-book exams while others do not allow students to bring their notes to tests. There may also be confusion over how similar answers can be if students shared information and collaborated when working together on a project.

Here are some additional situations during an online project or exam where you would want to give clear expectations in writing on the course syllabus:

  • Which resources are students allowed to use during your open book exams? Any resources including the internet or just the textbook and course materials? 
  • Is it okay to upload course material to a study site and access that material during the exam?
  • Are students allowed to talk to a classmate over Zoom or another platform while screen sharing?
  • Can students use a shared Google note sheet during an exam?

Academic dishonesty consequences for students

Helping students understand the gravity of violating the Honor Code before they cheat or plagiarize can improve their chances of making honest decisions. Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution (SCCR) focuses on education as opposed to punishment. The goal is not to scare students, but encourage them to not engage in academic dishonesty again.

Each case is determined based on its unique factors. However, common non-academic outcomes include:

  • Seminars: Seminar topics include ethics, writing or time management.
  • CU Restorative Justice: Restorative Justice helps to address the relationship between victims, offenders and the community in a way that repairs the impacts of an incident and holds the offender accountable for their actions.
  • Written Warning: A warning is a written statement from a resolution specialist saying that the behavior was inappropriate and that more serious conduct action will be taken if violations happen again.
  • Honor Code probation: Probation includes a written statement that the student’s behavior was inappropriate and gives a timeframe that the student remains on probation. Any violation of the Honor Code or the conditions of probation during that timeframe will result in further disciplinary action.  
  • Honor Code suspension: The student is required to leave the university, and not participate in any university activities, for a specified amount of time. This outcome is noted on the student’s transcript during the period of the suspension and the student must apply for readmission if they want to remain a student at the university. 

How to discuss an Honor Code violation with a student

When you are aware of or suspect an Honor Code violation, speak to the student before reporting the incident. It can be hard for a student if the first time they learn of an allegation is in an email notification from SCCR. Letting the student know beforehand also advises them to be on the lookout for a communication from SCCR.

SCCR recommends clearly explaining what you think may have happened and what evidence you have to support the allegation. This may be that you saw the student copying another student’s work or a student’s essay has a high Turnitin score.

Faculty and staff should make sure students have the opportunity to respond. Ask open-ended questions such as what happened, or ask them to help you understand why the essays or exams are so similar. After discussing the academic dishonesty with the student, let them know how it will impact their grade, whether you will report the violation to SCCR if you still believe academic dishonesty occurred and what the student can expect next.

How to report an Honor Code violation

Faculty are expected to submit a report to SCCR when they are aware of or suspect an Honor Code violation. SCCR will only accept these referrals within 40 days from the date that the faculty member discovered the suspected violation. This helps protect students’ due process rights and ensure cases are resolved in a timely manner. If you have questions regarding the Honor Code, SCCR is a strong partner and can talk with you to better understand the situation.

Here is information to include in an Honor Code report:

  • Who violated the Honor Code.
  • The behavior or action you observed or found while grading that caused you to suspect that a violation occurred.
  • When the violation happened and when you discovered it.
  • Which class the violation occurred in.
  • The course syllabus.
  • Any supporting documentation, such as the TurnItIn report, Canvas access logs, similar exams or assignments, answer keys or i-clicker reports.

When SCCR receives a report, the office reviews all of the information submitted and sends a letter with a summary of the information you provided to SCCR to the student indicating they have been reported to the Honor Code. The letter includes a brief statement explaining the allegation and requests a time for the student to meet with a resolution specialist. This 1:1 meeting is not a trial. It’s a conversation where the student can share their perspective on the allegation. 

After the resolution specialist meets with the student, the case may be brought to the Honor Code Advisory Board, and a decision about responsibility and any non-academic outcomes, if appropriate, will be determined. SCCR will then send a letter to the student and reporting faculty member outlining the decision.

If you would like to further educate your students or department, SCCR has presentations on various topics including what the Honor Code is, how to file an Honor Code report and common cheating and detection. SCCR can also review syllabi and give feedback. 

Email SCCR to schedule a presentation that meets the specific needs of your class or team.