The importance of academic integrity – a message from the Dean of Students
5 recommendations to discuss as a family
Dear Jesuit Parents – we are sharing below a message which was sent to your student this afternoon. Please take a moment to read and discuss with your son.
April 30, 2021
“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you” – Warren Buffett
The administration, faculty, and staff of Jesuit High school strongly believe that honesty and integrity, academic or otherwise, are essential elements to building community and promoting social justice. As we state in our educational philosophy, Jesuit High School is Catholic and, therefore, it is based on a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In response to the Gospel message, all members of the Jesuit High School family – that is parents, faculty, administrators, staff and students – share in the mission of nurturing in each other the social skills and cultural awareness necessary for Christian community. We commit ourselves to the highest standards including the promotion of academic integrity. Our collective commitment to academic honesty upholds the mutual respect and moral integrity that our school community values and nurtures.
The following five recommendations are important points of emphasis for students and have been gathered and/or adapted from research conducted at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. as well as a variety of other online resources. Many of the resources used to pull this information together have been developed over the course of the last year as all schools and teachers have had to adapt to new challenges in creating a new classroom environment while adapting to new forms of both in-person and online learning. These recommendations are also reflective of similar dialogue that the faculty and staff at Jesuit have been engaged in with our students throughout the school year as well as in previous school years. I encourage you to spend some time reviewing each of these items together as a family as we prepare for the final two weeks of classes and final exams.
1. Students should feel comfortable to seek clarity about prohibited and permitted resources
Ask questions about what resources you are and are not permitted to use. Class books? All books? Materials posted in Classroom? Your own class notes? The internet? Your classmates? Your friends and family? Particularly in the virtual learning environment, teachers may allow you to use more resources than they would in a classroom exam, but you should not assume that is permitted. Teachers make deliberate choices about why you are allowed to use certain resources if any. Ask any questions you may have so that you are following the expectations. Remember that both you and your teacher are adjusting to a relatively new educational setting with unique challenges and expectations. Rather than assuming you and your teacher have a common understanding, take the steps to create common understanding and avoid any misunderstanding or confusion about expectations.
Sometimes, students begin a project believing they understand the expectations for that assignment. As they progress, they find new questions arise. Before you begin an exam or a project, ask your teacher in what ways they prefer that you seek clarification from them during the project or exam (i.e. email, visits to office hours, questions in class, etc).
2. Remember the importance of equality and equity in the classroom environment and take steps to preserve it.
Our teachers strive to create an inclusive learning environment for all course materials including final exams and other assessments. We know students place a high value on equality and equity too. So, for example, your teacher might allow everyone to use class notes, but prohibit you from consulting other students or any family members. These sorts of boundaries create a more equitable academic assessment for all students. The faculty, staff, and administration rely on students as partners in this pursuit of equity for all members of our learning environment.
3. Students should plan ahead to avoid pressure and confusion
Many of the academic integrity cases we see occur when students are rushed and/or take shortcuts to complete an assignment. Sometimes students are confused about the expectations and don’t have time to seek clarification. Using an online calendar, hand-written planner, Google Classroom, or other tools designed to help you keep assignments and due dates organized will help students chart out a plan for timely completion of their assignments. In addition, checking and seeking clarification about the directions from the teacher is an important step to avoid a potential incidence of cheating or plagiarism.
4. To the best of your ability, students should attempt to anticipate roadblocks and share those with their teachers and their counselor.
We know many students are continuing to make adjustments to a relatively new learning environment. Maybe you’re also caring for family members, maybe you or others in your household are ill, and maybe your mental health has been challenging to manage. Lots of students are experiencing this. At Jesuit, we seek to actively practice Cura Personalis or care for the whole person. One piece of feedback that we have heard from many families that what makes Jesuit a special community is a commitment our faculty, staff, and administration has shown throughout this pandemic for each individual student. While we may not be perfect, we are constantly discussing the ways in which we can meet our students where they are and seek to be a support system to all of our students both in the classroom and in life. Faculty may or may not be able to modify the learning environment or an individual assessment, but in all cases, we encourage you to share whatever challenges you are facing and seek support resources. If you’re not sure where to go to seek assistance, you can always contact your counselor or the Dean’s Office.
5. All students must understand the school’s Academic Integrity policy, which remains in effect
Remember that the Academic Integrity policy (see pg. 10 of the Student-Parent Handbook) remains in effect and is an important tool for ensuring the value of everyone’s work. Students are encouraged to review the definitions of cheating and plagiarism which are described briefly below as well. Students and faculty all come to Jesuit from different academic, cultural, and professional backgrounds, so being explicit in reviewing these important definitions and policies is important.
Key definitions regarding Academic Integrity include
- Cheating – intentionally or knowingly using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise; engaging in unauthorized collaboration in any academic exercise; violating rules governing administration of examinations.
- Fabrication – intentionally or knowingly, or unauthorized falsification or invention of any data, information, or citation in an academic exercise; giving false or misleading information regarding an academic matter.
- Plagiarism – intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, or sequence of ideas of another as one’s own in any academic exercise; failure to provide the appropriate credit or citation to the original author by any of the following: missing quotations, paraphrasing the authors words, rewording a passage, or failure to submit a complete and accurate works cited page; submitting the same or substantially the same work in more than one class without prior permission of both teachers;
- Facilitating academic dishonesty – intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty
La Roddric C. Theodule, M. Ed
Dean of Students