Deputy Dean of the College Clayton Marsh ’85 facilitated a conversation among council members that addressed ways that faculty and students can work to avoid Honor Code violations.
Marsh addressed the challenges that the Internet presents in trying to follow the Honor Code. Because information is readily available, it is easy for a student to quickly collect information from a variety of sources and then forget to correctly credit those sources once he or she is in the process of writing and organizing the assignment, he said.
“Suddenly it becomes unclear where that material came from, whether those were your words and ideas or someone else’s,” Marsh said.
Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan responded to questions regarding the implementation of the Honor Code.
U-Councilors shared the confusion that they experienced as students when collaboration policies were unclear for particular courses. Because the rules for permissible collaboration vary across departments and even between courses within the same department, Deignan stressed the importance of professors’ explicitly stating their own policies regarding collaboration.
“Naturally we encourage students to collaborate in many classes, especially in the sciences,” Marsh said. “It’s an important skill and ability to develop.”
The panel discussed communication between professors and students that clearly and effectively defined permissible collaboration. Professors should continually engage in conversations about these rules throughout the semester, Marsh said.
“We have to create a culture that recognizes the value of investing in this conversation in the beginning and that will hopefully reduce the number of problems down the road,” Marsh said.
The panel presented examples of two statements from previous course syllabi — one that successfully described and another that failed to describe the extent to which students were allowed to collaborate.
Even when students initially understand the guidelines for a first assignment, changes in collaboration rules between assignments could result in accidental violations of the Honor Code. In some cases, professors allowed collaboration on the first assignment but not on subsequent assignments. To prevent this confusion, USG president Bruce Easop ’13 suggested that professors provide a Blackboard announcement outlining what is acceptable for each assignment.
The Honor Code itself was only briefly addressed at the meeting. Deignan said the University’s Honor Code is very important to efforts to avoid cheating, citing studies done by Rutgers professor Donald McCabe ’66 that showed that campuses with strong honor codes experience fewer incidents of cheating.
“The Honor Code is terribly important, and we need to do everything we can to embrace it,” Deignan said.
Changes to the Honor Code were not brought up, but Marsh said that it will be discussed when the committee meets in the future.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/02/31338/