Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity

Excelsior University is committed to fostering and maintaining a culture of academic integrity, student success, and teaching and learning excellence, including authenticity, fairness, equitability, and accountability in all aspects of a student’s educational experience. Translated from Latin, the word excelsior means “high” or “elevated.” As members of the Excelsior University community, learners, faculty, and staff are dedicated to behaving in a manner consistent with the highest ethical and intellectual standards. Excelsior University believes that active, authentic learning is critical to the value of a university degree and to student success in college, careers, and life. As a member of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), Excelsior upholds "a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage." Excelsior University supports a culture of academic integrity.

DEFINITIONS

Plagiarism is the act of passing off another person’s ideas, writing, or other work as one’s own. Plagiarism can occur in writing or audio-visual format. It can occur in small portions of a student’s work or in the entire submission. Plagiarism can be either intentional or accidental, but is a breach of academic integrity regardless. For more information on avoiding plagiarism, visit the Excelsior OWL Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial. Self-Plagiarism is the act of re-using a student’s own work in a new context without prior approval of the instructor and proper citation of the previous work. Cheating is engaging or attempting to engage in any activity prohibited by Excelsior that gives a student an unfair advantage over other students in a course or exam. This includes allowing others to complete an academic assessment or a portion of an academic assessment or assignment. Contract Cheating is when a student engages with, or attempts to engage with, a third party to complete their assignment, assessment, or activity. This includes, but is not limited to, hiring a third party to complete work, downloading a paper from a “free” essay site or paid essay mill, or asking a friend or family member to complete student work. This includes the trading of an already submitted and graded assignment in return for help on a new assignment. For more information on what constitutes contract cheating, see Turnitin: What is Contract Cheating and Why Does it Matter? Collusion is any kind of cooperation between students that gives an unfair advantage to one student, or a group of students, over others in the course or exam, including using a friend or family member’s assignment and submitting it as one’s own. Fabrication/Falsification is the action or process of falsifying any information, data, academic documents, records, or citations. Falsification of records and/or official documents submitted to Excelsior may occur prior to or otherwise independent of a student’s enrollment. This policy applies with equal force to such conduct. Misrepresentation is any act or omission that is intended to deceive for an academic advantage. This also includes misrepresenting oneself or one’s status in Excelsior. Investigation is the act of gathering and assessing any necessary data, facts, and evidence related to a suspected academic integrity violation.

RESOURCES

Excelsior University believes that student awareness and understanding of academic integrity is key to maintaining a culture of academic integrity. Therefore, Excelsior provides the following resources to build awareness and understanding:
  • The Excelsior University Honor Code
  • Excelsior University OWL includes tutorials and information on avoiding plagiarism, copyright violations, and proper citation and attribution
  • CCS101: Academic Integrity Tutorial: a non-credit bearing self-paced course in Canvas that explains academic integrity violations and how to avoid them and offers students chances to apply their knowledge to specific examples
  • The Excelsior University Cornerstone Course: a required first course at Excelsior that includes information on Excelsior’s policies and procedures regarding academic integrity and instruction on avoiding plagiarism through proper paraphrasing, quoting, and citation methods
  • The Excelsior University Library tutorial on citing and writing
  • Excelsior University Anti-Plagiarism Tool
  • Instructors and Academic Advisors: Students should also view their instructor and academic advisor as valuable resources if they have any questions or concerns about what constitutes an academic integrity violation in their course or exam.

Uses of Third-Party Plagiarism and Cheating Detection Services

Excelsior University has the right to determine the originality and authenticity of a student’s academic work (e.g., papers, projects, discussion posts). Reports by a designated service such as Turnitin and Authorship may be used as part of regular course instruction and as evidence in an Excelsior University investigation of academic integrity policy violations and in support of Excelsior University disciplinary action(s).

Academic Integrity Incident Types

When a student is suspected of violating the Academic Integrity Policy, the incident is evaluated individually to determine both the severity and persistence of the behavior. Student incidents will be categorized according to the types indicated below, which provides guidance on the necessary course of action. The types of violations indicated below are not cumulative; rather, they are based on the severity of the incident. Penalties for violations of the academic integrity policy depend upon the severity of the incident and can range from being asked to review academic integrity resources up through withdrawal from Excelsior. TEACHABLE MOMENTS In some cases, a student may unintentionally or unknowingly commit a minor academic integrity violation, for example, minor issues of improper paraphrasing, citation, missing quotation marks, and/or minor self-plagiarism incidents. The decision of whether an incident should be considered a “teachable moment” is at the discretion of the instructor and/or Faculty Program Director. TYPE 1 INCIDENTS Repeat instances of poor writing or citation “teachable moments” that require more intense guidance, instruction, and intervention. TYPE 2 INCIDENTS Intentional plagiarism in student work. For example, this can include a copied passage or passages from another source in a paper, presentation, or other media submission without proper paraphrasing, citations, and/or use of quotations. TYPE 3 INCIDENTS Serious infractions of the academic integrity policy including:
  • Type 3A: Multiple documented plagiarism violations. The student has been officially warned and documented in a previous incident and is aware that plagiarism violates Excelsior's policy. Repeated instances of Type 3A may constitute grounds for withdrawal from Excelsior.
  • Type 3B: Cheating, contract cheating, fabrication, falsification, and/or collusion (see definitions above). A single instance of a Type 3B Incident may constitute grounds for withdrawal from Excelsior.

Possible University Responses

Excelsior strives to build student awareness of expectations for academic integrity and remediate infractions as soon as they occur. When a student is suspected of an infraction of the Academic Integrity Policy, the incident is evaluated to gauge severity and persistence of the behavior as well as to foster student success.
  • Bar the student from enrolling in Excelsior or registering for a course or examination.
  • Assign a failing grade for an examination, assignment, or course.
  • Look back at courses or exams from previous terms or the same term for other violations
  • Gather and review a student’s course or exam activity, IP address, and other data necessary for the academic integrity investigation
  • Administratively withdraw the student. If the student is administratively withdrawn, Excelsior reserves the right to revoke all credits.
  • If the student has withdrawn or graduated, any credits and/or degree and certificate previously awarded may be revoked. The student will be asked to return the certificate or diploma. Suspend or terminate selected University services previously available to the student.
  • Retain all tuition and fees paid by the student.
  • Permanently annotate a student’s record to reflect academic withdrawal by Excelsior in response to the student’s violation of this policy.
  • Notify educational institutions, licensing or certification boards, employers, or others, who have previously received a transcript or similar certification, e.g., Letter of Completion (LOC), Letter of Qualification (LOQ) of any action taken by Excelsior.
  • Take other action, as appropriate.

PROCEDURE

Process and Procedures for Teachable Moments, Type 1, and Type 2 Incidents

Excelsior strives to build student awareness of expectations for academic integrity and remediate violations as soon as they occur. TEACHABLE MOMENTS For minor issues determined to be “teachable moments” the following should occur:
  1. Investigation: The instructor and/or school administrator will gather, review, and assess the evidence
  2. Communication between instructor and student: When appropriate, the instructor will discuss the academic integrity issue with the student and provide the student with an opportunity to offer a reasonable explanation.
  3. Determination of whether it is a repeat occurrence: The instructor and/or school administrator will assess whether the student has previous documented academic integrity incidents or previous teachable moments recorded with Excelsior, which may impact how the new incident is categorized and handled.
  4. Providing feedback and resources: The instructor will provide the student with individualized feedback and information about academic integrity and resource to improve the student’s awareness and understanding. The resources may include any or all of those listed above, including CCS101 and Excelsior OWL tutorials on plagiarism, writing, and citations.
  5. Documentation: The teachable moment will be logged in a “teachable moments” database to be used only to determine whether multiple incidents have occurred. The incident will not be logged in the student information system.
  6. Remediation: Remediation is contextualized based on the
  7. individual student and course circumstances and the type of minor incident that occurred. For minor “teachable moment” incidents, this may include some or all the following:
a. Feedback and resources from the instructor b. Required completion of CCS101 c. A low grade or a grade of 0 on the assignment or exam with the opportunity to revise and resubmit the work with corrections for a new grade TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 INCIDENTS For Type and 2 academic integrity incidents the following should occur:
  1. Investigation: The instructor and/or school administrator will gather, review, and assess the evidence
  2. Communication between instructor and student: When appropriate, the instructor will discuss the academic integrity issue with the student and provide the student with an opportunity to offer a reasonable explanation.
  3. Determination of whether it is a repeat occurrence: The instructor and/or school administrator will assess whether the student has previous documented academic integrity incidents or previous teachable moments recorded with Excelsior, which may impact how the new incident is categorized and handled.
  4. Providing feedback and resources: The instructor will provide the student with individualized feedback and information about academic integrity and resource to improve the student’s awareness and understanding. The resources may include any or all of those listed above, including CCS101 and Excelsior OWL tutorials on plagiarism, writing, and citations.
  5. Documentation: The student will receive a letter from the Dean or Dean’s designee explaining the incident, steps taken, and any consequences. This letter will be noted in the student information system. Students will be provided with an opportunity to contest the allegations and respond within 14 business days.
  6. Remediation and Disciplinary Action: Remediation and disciplinary actions are contextualized based on the individual student and course circumstances, the severity of the incident, and any record of previous incidents. For Type 1 and Type 2 academic integrity incidents, this may include some or all of the following:
a. Feedback and resources from the instructor b. Required completion of CCS101 c. A low grade or a grade of 0 on the assignment or exam with the opportunity to revise and resubmit the work with corrections for a new grade d. A low grade or a grade of 0 on the assignment or exam without the opportunity to resubmit APPEALS OF TEACHABLE MOMENTS, TYPE 1, AND TYPE 2 INCIDENTS Student appeals related to Teachable Moments, Type 1, and Type 2 incidents should be submitted in writing to the Dean of the school in which the incident occurred within 30 days of the initial decision: The Dean will render a final decision on the appeal within 21 business days of receipt. Note: Teachable moments, Type 1, and Type 2 incidents are school-level violations and at the sole discretion of the school in which the incident occurred. The Dean’s decision on teachable moment, Type 1, and Type 2 incident appeals is final. Process and Procedures for Type 3 Incidents PROCEDURES FOR TYPE 3 INCIDENTS
  1. Investigation: The instructor and/or school administrator will gather, review, and assess the evidence
  2. Communication between university and student: When appropriate, the instructor or university administrator will discuss the academic integrity violation with the student and provide the student with an opportunity to offer a reasonable explanation.
  3. Activity Pause for Investigation: The instructor or university administrator will notify the student to pause any activity in the course, if necessary pending investigation and recommended action.
  4. Documentation: The student will receive a letter from the Dean or Dean’s Designee or Registrar explaining the incident, steps taken, and any disciplinary action. This letter will be noted in the student information system.
  5. Remediation and Disciplinary Action: Type 3 incidents are serious academic integrity violations with corresponding serious disciplinary action, which may include some or all of the following:
a. A low grade or a grade of 0 on the assignment or exam without the opportunity to resubmit b. Failure of the course or exam c. Withdrawal from Excelsior d. Revocation of an Excelsior University degree APPEALS OF TYPE 3 INCIDENTS Student appeals related to Type 3 incidents should be submitted in writing to the Office of the Provost within 30 days of the initial decision. by email to: provost@excelsior.edu Or by mail: Office of the Provost and Chief Academic Officer Excelsior University 7 Columbia Circle Albany, NY 12203-5159 Appeals of Type 3 incidents in which the disciplinary action includes administrative withdrawal from Excelsior or revocation of an Excelsior University degree are escalated to Excelsior University’s Academic Integrity Council. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY COUNCIL HEARING PROCEDURES The Academic Integrity Council, made up of faculty and staff members appointed by the Provost, reviews all appeals made to the Provost for Type 3 incidents resulting in withdrawal from Excelsior or revocation of a degree and follows the following procedures:
  1. Students must submit an appeal in writing to the Provost’s Office within 30 days of the Type 3 incident decision. Additional information or documentation relevant to the appeal may be required.
  2. Upon receipt of the letter of appeal by the Provost’s office, the Provost’s assistant will respond to the student acknowledging their appeal within three business days.
  3. To facilitate this investigatory process, AIC offers the student the opportunity to teleconference with the Council to speak on their own behalf; attorneys are not authorized to attend such hearings. In developing their presentation to AIC, a student advocate is offered to the student to assist them in developing their case before the Council. Students are not, however, required to work with the student advocate.
  4. The assistant to the Chair of AIC contacts members to notify them of the student appeal, providing the student appeal letter and description of the reason for appeal, and to identify a suitable date for the student hearing.
  5. The student advocate is informed of the appeal, reviews the documents associated with the case, and upon contact from student will fact find and counsel the student in preparation for the formal hearing of the appeal.
  6. The assistant to the Chair of the AIC will work with the appropriate unit to gather and organize information to clarify all points of the appeal for the AIC members, and to schedule a pre-hearing meeting to discuss the case, as necessary.
  7. The AIC members meet with the student and the student advocate to hear the case.
  8. The AIC follows Robert’s Rules of Order. A simple majority carries a motion. Quorum and majority votes are necessary for all recommendations made by the Council. The Chair of AIC is an Ex Officio non-voting member and will only vote when a tie has been reached.
  9. The AIC gives their recommendation to the Provost, who notifies the student of the decision regarding the outcome within 30 days from the date of the hearing.
  10. The assistant to the Chair notifies the council of the Provost’s decision and routes all documentation pertaining to the appeal to the Registrar’s Office for storage in the student’s record and for potential student status adjustments.