Academic Integrity

Statement of Policy

Students shall uphold the principles of academic integrity in all aspects of their academic work and relationship with Excelsior College. Students are expected to use complete, accurate, specific, and truthful representations of authorship, origin of ideas, mastery of material, and data. Students are likewise expected to access and use only those materials for which such access and use is authorized during enrollment and/or while taking Excelsior College sources of credit, professional training, and continuing education courses. Students also have an ethical obligation to report academic integrity infractions of which they are aware.

Excelsior College 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 may be used as evidence in an Excelsior College investigation of academic integrity policy infractions and in support of Excelsior College disciplinary action(s). The spirit and intent of this policy is to support student success and a culture of teaching and learning excellence.

Definitions

Plagiarism:

Representing the work of another as one’s own is considered plagiarism. The work might include words, images, thoughts, or ideas. The source might be another student, author, website, media in all forms, or course content. Plagiarism can be avoided by using paraphrasing and citations to acknowledge the work of others.

Note: Excelsior College does not consider re-use of sections of a student’s own original work (self-plagiarism) in subsequent assignments to be plagiarism if the copied work has been cited, the student has received prior approval of the faculty, and the new assignment expands upon the original work.

Fabrication:

  • Falsifying or inventing any information, citation, or data.
  • Misrepresenting oneself or one’s status in the College.
  • Use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to misrepresent or mask an IP address.

Cheating:

  • Use of technology or other materials (for example, calculators, cellphones, smart watches, textbooks, websites, or notes) during examinations or quizzes, except where explicitly authorized or provided.
  • Attempting to communicate with others during an assessment when collaboration is not allowed.
  • Communicating with unauthorized people about assessment content at any time.
  • Obtaining any content from an assessment prior to its administration.
  • Making any content from an assessment available to anyone not authorized to have access to it.
  • Undertaking any activity to obtain, or that has the effect of obtaining, an unfair advantage over other students.
  • Contract cheating (i.e., the exchange of something of value for another to do one’s work, which one then represents as one’s own and submits for credit).

Collusion:

  • Allowing another person to do one’s work, and/or impersonating a student to do his/her work.
  • Hiring someone to complete coursework.
  • Aiding another person in an act that violates the standards of academic integrity (i.e., providing one’s own previously submitted course work to another person).
  • Providing outside sources with Excelsior College’s proprietary materials (i.e., providing intellectual property or answers to Excelsior College coursework) is a violation of the Electronic Use Policy. This includes websites that promote unauthorized sharing of college materials.

Procedures

The College 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.

Each level provides guidance on the necessary course of action, including the following criteria:

  • Initial discussion between the instructor and the student to determine intention and provide opportunity for feedback and teachable moments.
  • Degree to which the student is aware of academic integrity and provided an opportunity to offer a reasonable explanation.
  • Whether the infraction is a first-time or repeat occurrence.
  • Whether the student has been provided previous remediation or completed the CCS 101 Academic Integrity tutorial.

Students should be provided opportunities to acquire the writing skills and/or ethical understanding to avoid future plagiarism.

If a student fails to meet the academic integrity expectations explained in this policy, sanctions and/or penalties may be imposed up to and including separation from the College (Refer to the section Due Process & Documentation).

Each incident or infraction should be weighed against the descriptions given above and handled on a case-by-case basis, starting with a conversation/contact with the student. No disciplinary action should be imposed immediately. Rather, to provide appropriate due process, the student must be notified about the allegations and have an opportunity to respond with an explanation and provide any evidence they can offer. The intent of this policy is to encourage teachable moments with the instructor within the course under the guidance and/or direction of the faculty program director.

Initial Infraction of Academic Integrity Within Courses

Unintentional plagiarism may occur when the instructor determines that a student is an inexperienced writer or lacks college writing skills. This is an opportunity to guide students away from the possibility of future plagiarism and to recommend resources. Instructors are expected to promote student proficiency in the proper use of information, writing mechanics, and understanding the academic integrity process.

Examples:

  • Self-plagiarism
  • Improper or lack of citation or referencing
  • Improper paraphrasing
  • Missing quotation marks (with proper citation)
  • Misuse of quoting such as quoting too often, quoting one source one too many times, or quoting is too lengthy

Note: Plagiarism is not checked in essays on Excelsior College exams.

Academic Integrity Resources

  • Instructor
  • CCS 101: Academic Integrity tutorial
  • Academic advisor
  • Excelsior College Library
  • Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Note: For students who are unwilling to work with the instructor, the assignment will be graded as submitted or receives no credit. Examples include:

  • Unresponsive to instructor outreach
  • Resubmits same or similar work
  • Fails to resubmit as agreed with instructor

The instructor is expected to work with the student within the course to provide resources, individualized feedback, and guidance. It is the responsibility of the instructor under the guidance of the faculty program director to assess the needs of the student to best guide remediation (i.e., resubmission of work, Excelsior College-provided tutoring resources, the OWL, etc.). The instructor is expected to document all communication with the student.

  • Individualized instruction and documented feedback with appropriate resources
  • Opportunity for resubmission with corrections
  • Clarification of instructions and/or rubric

Level One Infraction

Level One infractions are repeat instances of poor writing that require more intense guidance and instruction to avoid further offenses. This level is only enforced after a reasonable number of documented attempts by an instructor to engage the student in teachable moments in the proper use of information and understanding the academic integrity process.

Examples:

  • Attributing an inaccurate source (misleading citations and/or references).
  • Using all or part of another’s work, even if paraphrased, without proper citation.

Level One Procedures

The student is required to complete formal training to strengthen their understanding of academic writing and comply with this policy. The instructor is expected to work with the student in the classroom providing resources and individualized feedback. It is the responsibility of the instructor, under the guidance of the faculty program director, to assess the needs of the student to best guide remediation (i.e., resubmission, Excelsior College provided tutoring resources, the OWL, etc.). The instructor is expected to document all communication with the student. The faculty program director (or designee) is expected to collect evidence, complete and track School-level documentation, including the Academic Integrity Incident Reporting Form.

  • Student is notified of allegation(s) and given an opportunity to be heard and offer evidence.
  • Possible resubmission with corrections.
  • Student is required to satisfactorily complete CCS 101: Academic Integrity and provide a copy of completion certificate to the instructor; outcome will be documented in SIS.
  • Possible referral to academic advising services.
  • Notation in the student information system.
  • Official letter from dean or designee directing student on expectations and resources for student success.

Level Two Infraction

Level Two infractions demonstrate blatant intentional plagiarism and/or disregard for previous guidance and interventions.

Examples:

  • Repeat occurrence of plagiarism as defined in Level One after previously receiving remediation and instructor guidance.
  • Intentional plagiarism and/or disregard for previous guidance.
  • Previous completion of CCS 101 Academic Integrity tutorial as part of prior disciplinary action.

Level Two Procedures

An instructor, under the guidance and direction of the faculty program director, is expected to inform the student of the suspected infraction, to offer the student an opportunity to provide an explanation and clearly communicate the risk of current and further incidents of plagiarism. Faculty program directors will provide administrative actions to support the instructor’s intervention and communication with the student. An Academic Integrity Incident Reporting Form is completed, prior reports are reviewed, and the student’s response is documented.

  • Student is notified of allegation(s) and given an opportunity to be heard and offer evidence.
  • The instructor works closely with the faculty program director to decide whether to offer the opportunity for resubmission with corrections or assign a lower grade.
  • Official letter from the dean or designee warning of multiple offenses.
  • Notation in the student information system.
  • Referral to academic advising services.

Level Three Infraction

There are two categories of Level Three infractions. At this level, the student has knowingly committed an act that violates the College policy.

(a) In the case of plagiarism, multiple documented infractions have been committed. The student has been officially warned and documented in a previous incident and is aware that these actions violate the College policy. Despite interventions provided for lower-level instances of plagiarism and completing the CCS 101 Academic Integrity tutorial, the student has not avoided repeat offenses.

(b) In the case of cheating, fabrication, and collusion, these incidents may be unique and should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Note: In some cases, a student may unknowingly use material from a contract cheating provider. The instructor and faculty program director must assess the degree to which the student is aware of the infraction and may consider and document it as a onetime-only teachable moment.

Level Three Procedures

Faculty program directors will provide administrative actions to guide the instructor and oversee communication with the student to ensure due process. Interventions for remediation are no longer provided to the student at this level. An Academic Integrity Incident Reporting Form is completed and prior reports reviewed.

  • Student is notified of allegation(s) and given an opportunity to be heard and offer evidence.
  • Notation in the student information system.
  • Official letter from the dean(s) or dean designee involved.
  • Further investigation by the dean or dean designee incorporating due process and documentation (See Due Process & Documentation below).

Due Process & Documentation

Individuals who believe that a student has not adhered to the Academic Integrity Policy will report the incident, utilizing the Academic Integrity Incident Reporting Form, to the next level of authority. Where a student alleges misconduct against another student enrolled in the same course, a completed form shall be forwarded to the instructor. In all other instances in which a student alleges misconduct against another student, a completed form shall be forwarded to the dean or dean’s designee of the School under which the academic work is assigned.

The School shall determine if the evidence submitted tends to suggest a student has violated this policy.

  • In making such determination, the dean or designee may solicit additional information or clarification from other individuals reasonably believed to have information that may assist in assessing the alleged infraction.
  • All such inquiries shall be made and responded to in written form with supporting documentation.
  • If the evidence is sufficient to support a Level Two infraction, the dean or designee will further investigate the claim. Such investigation shall, at a minimum, require the dean or designee to:
    • notify the student of the alleged infraction
    • provide a copy of the completed incident reporting form to the student(s) and any related documentation
    • provide the student(s) an opportunity to contest the allegations and respond within 14 business days (not including weekends or holidays)
  • If a timely response is not received from the student, the dean or designee may render a judgment based on the submitted incident reporting form and any accompanying supporting documentation.
  • No later than 21 business days after receipt of the student’s response or the final date in which such response would have been timely, the dean or designee shall evaluate whether an infraction has occurred on a “more likely than not” standard.
  • The dean or designee shall communicate their findings, recommend discipline where applicable, and the method of appeal in written form both to the party responsible for lodging the complaint on which the investigation is predicated, and the student whose conduct was subject to investigation.

In response to alleged infractions of the Academic Integrity Policy, the College administration (deans and the Office of the Provost) reserves the right to take any or all the following actions:

  • Bar the student from enrolling in the College or registering for a course or examination.
  • Assign a failing grade for an examination or course.
  • Administratively withdraw the student.
  • If the student is administratively withdrawn, the College 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.
  • See Policy 120 Administrative Withdrawal and Academic Dismissal for further details.
  • Suspend or terminate selected College services previously available to the student.
  • Retain all tuition and fees paid by the student.
  • Withhold course grade(s) and/or examination score(s), diploma, and official Excelsior College transcripts.
  • Permanently annotate a student’s record to reflect action(s) taken by the College in response to the student’s infraction 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 the College.
  • Take other action, as appropriate.

Falsifying Records & Official Documents

Forging signatures and/or falsifying documents submitted to the College, or misrepresenting documents from the College, is prohibited by this policy. Records and documents include, but are not limited to, the following: transcripts, diplomas, health status forms, letters of enrollment, qualification, or completion, enrollment and registration forms, applications, certifications, photo IDs, exam score reports, or any other official document.

Examples include: 

  • Misrepresenting one’s relationship with the College.
  • Submitting false, altered, or fabricated documents to or from the College.
  • Documents submitted as part of the CPNE application process.

Falsification of records and/or official documents submitted to the College may occur prior to or otherwise independent of a student’s enrollment. This policy applies with equal force to such conduct.

Falsifying Records & Official Documents Procedures

Allegations under this section related to academic work shall be directed to the dean or dean’s designee of the School under which the academic work is assigned. The dean of dean’s designee shall follow the procedures outlined in the Due Process & Documentation section.

Allegations under this Section V that do not relate to academic work shall be directed to the Registrar. The Registrar shall follow the procedures outlined in Due Process & Documentation to the extent it is practicable to do so.

Exams

For all allegations involving an infraction of this policy with respect to exams taken outside the context of courses (e.g., UExcel exam, Excelsior College Examination, etc.), there are two procedures:

Enrolled students: The Director of Testing Services provides a report to the dean in the School in which the student is enrolled, and the dean or designee then follows the above procedures outlined in Section IV.

Examinees who are not enrolled students: The Director of Testing Services provides notification to the examinee and takes appropriate action (typically invalidating the grade and barring the examinee from registering or taking future exams).