Tips for Faculty & Teaching Assistants
For previous guidance regarding the Honor Code that was in effect prior to September 1, 2023, please see the previous version of this page.
Your Role in Upholding the Honor Code and Fundamental Standard
Teaching staff file well over 200 reports of alleged violations of the Honor Code every year. The procedure for investigation and possible sanctions varies based on the severity of the allegations and the student’s prior disciplinary record. The majority of these cases involve violations such as plagiarism, unpermitted collaboration, revising and resubmitting work, and unpermitted aid. The severity of the sanction ranges from a restorative meeting for low-level violations to suspension or delayed degree conferral for more serious violations. While rare, expulsion is also an available sanction for the most serious offenses. If a student is responsible for an Honor Code violation, faculty and TAs may opt to give such students a "No Pass" or "No Credit" for the assignment or course involved.
Faculty play a crucial role in promoting academic integrity in the classroom. Educating students about the new Honor Code and its application within a particular class makes upholding the spirit of the document easier for students.
Below are some examples of best practices for faculty in their classrooms, as well as some tips to help you and your students. The Office of Community Standards (“OCS”) can also provide you with suggestions on strategies to educate students on academic integrity within your class.
Best practices include, but are not limited to:
- Discuss the Honor Code and its importance for your course, scholarship in the field, and Stanford.
- Specify what constitutes unpermitted aid for each assignment (including use of the Internet), and be available to answer questions.
- Specify citation expectations for each assignment.
- Include this information on the syllabus and in conjunction with online course materials.
- Ensure that faculty, teaching assistants, section leaders and students all have the same expectations.
- Avoid assignments or exam problems where students might have access to past solutions.
- Report any potential Honor Code violations you discover.
- Be open to and seek out student suggestions on how to improve course requirements and procedures.
What is permitted under the Honor Code includes, but is not limited to:
- Providing alternate versions of tests.
- Controlling what comes into the testing environment (prohibiting electronic devices, backpacks, etc.).
- Giving an exam early or late due to illness/emergency or a Stanford-sanctioned event (e.g., athletics) and OAE disability-related accommodations.
- Dispersing seating, assigning seating, and/or creating seating charts.
- Controlling whether students can keep copies of the exam.
- Copying student test submissions showing original work to compare against re-grade requests.
- With clear advance notice, using software to systematically compare work submitted to other sources.
- Assigning penalties for working “past time” on an exam.
What is not permitted under the Honor Code includes, but is not limited to:
- Proctoring (being present in the examination room during an examination), with the following exceptions:
- Instructors and teaching assistants may remain in the examination room to distribute and explain the examination, to transmit additional information, to answer questions, to collect examination papers, or to investigate specific reports from students that cheating has been observed;or
- If allowed pursuant to the pilot program under the auspices of the Academic Integrity Working Group
- Setting time limits for take-home exams (other than when they are due) unless electronic time-stamps are used. Please visit Exams and the Honor Code for further guidance about time limitations on take-home exams.
- Prescribing closed-book take-home exams. Please visit Exams and the Honor Code for further guidance about take-home examinations.
- Engaging in “penalty grading” (i.e. assigning a lower grade to a student due to suspicion of an academic integrity violation) as an alternative to reporting a potential Honor Code violation.
Tips for preventing Honor Code violations:
- Share some personal thoughts about why you value academic integrity and its importance in your discipline and profession. The most profound discussions often involve personal stories about your experiences with the Honor Code or issues of academic integrity.
- Consider allowing students to bring into an exam one blank sheet of paper or index card on which they can write whatever they wish. Deciding what to put on the card seems to help in exam preparation and also to reduce the temptation to use unpermitted notes.
- Assign seating, or ask students not to sit near their study partners. Study partners frequently do similar work and make similar mistakes. Sitting some distance apart ensures that copying is not a likely explanation for similarities in their work.
- To the extent possible avoid multiple-choice questions on quizzes and exams.
- The Honor Code prohibits students from submitting their own work in more than one class without explicit instructor permission. If you expect original work or conversely would permit a student to expand on previous work please be clear about what you would expect or permit.
- Do not assume your students know how to cite properly. Many upperclass students and even graduate students have been held responsible for plagiarizing. It is important to discuss plagiarism and to provide examples of adequate and inadequate acknowledgment of sources.
- If you are in a technical field it is important to emphasize that using the concepts, structures or computer code of another without acknowledgment is also plagiarism.
- If students are allowed to consult with each other about assignments, but are not allowed to submit group work for credit, be as clear as you can both orally and in writing about where the boundary lies between permitted and unpermitted collaboration or consultation. Explain that if students receive aid that they use in their assignment they should note that assistance.
- Instructors are increasingly recognizing the difficulty of setting limits on collaboration that students both understand and respect. Sometimes, guidelines are ignored. Students who recognize the educational value of working with others on intellectual tasks may view barriers to that collaboration as counterproductive. Therefore they may probably view such barriers as not seriously intended. Unfortunately these infractions are still Honor Code violations.
- Consider photocopying a 20% random sample of original graded work prior to returning the work to students. Announce this plan both orally and in writing before administering the assignment, and the rationale for doing so. Students and faculty in large science/math classes have reported to OCS that such random photocopying can be a deterrent to the temptation to alter graded work and submit it for re-grading.
Responding to possible Honor Code violations:
- If you believe that a student has acted dishonestly, do something. Instructors and students together are responsible for the integrity of the academic process. While filing a concern and going through the OCS process can be stressful, the student can benefit from learning that his or her behavior appeared dishonest.
- Do not assign academic penalties on the basis of suspected dishonesty. The Honor Code prohibits so-called “penalty grading.” If after questioning the student about the problematic work, you continue to believe that cheating occurred, refer the situation to the Office of Community Standards. If the evidence of misconduct is weak, the student will get the benefit of the doubt.
- In an exam setting, the prohibition on proctoring does not prevent you from entering the room in response to a report that cheating has been observed. You may confiscate notes or other materials, ask students to change seats, quit talking to each other—whatever is appropriate given the particular circumstances. You may mark exams to allow later comparisons or to indicate the point at which notes were confiscated. But do not confiscate the exams themselves. (Should there not be adequate proof of dishonesty it is difficult to assign a course grade if the student was not allowed to complete the examination.)
- Whatever the setting, if you cannot figure out how best to handle a possible problem, consult with OCS. You can do so anonymously. We will preserve confidentiality. Seeking advice does not commit you to filing a concern.
- When final grade entries are due, do not assign the student a grade for any student with an active OCS Honor Code case; leave the actual grade unassigned until the matter is resolved.