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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Cheating intelligence; UW sees rise in reported cases of academic misconduct

Joey Reuteman

There are certain precautions against academic misconduct students have become accustomed to; spacing students two chairs apart during exams, different versions of tests, internet-based plagiarism-prevention services.

However, with reports of academic misconduct on the rise on campus, and officials said they are taking greater measures at prevention and discipline.

According to University of Wisconsin Dean of Student Office’s Academic Integrity Statement, academic integrity is the idea that students learn in a fair and honest environment under faculty and staff who educate and communicate with students about what is expected, and the consequences of dishonoring that expectation.


Cheating is one of the most serious examples of academic misconduct, and UW is not immune to the problem UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam, said.

“… The number of students who self-report that they have cheated or somehow found another way to get an answer on an exam [is concerning],” Berquam said.

According to the 2013-2014 Academic Integrity Annual Report, written by Assistant Dean Tonya Schmidt, 91 cases of cheating were reported in the fall semester of last academic year, and 86 were reported in the spring. That is a total of 177 reported cases of academic misconduct throughout the 2013-2014 year, which has increased from 123 reported cases in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Usually, the number of academic misconduct reports spike around midterm and final time, Ervin Cox, assistant dean of students, said. However, this year there have been cases reported by the third week.

Cox said he thinks the rise in the number of reports is partially because of a push last year to get the word out to faculty about the issue of Academic Integrity.

The increase in cases, therefore, is most likely due to better action toward catching perpetrators, rather than an increase in actual cheating, Cox said.

Cox said administrators are working to preemptively stop academic misconduct altogether. It is important to keep up the university’s high academic standards, he said.

“It’s an important topic, integrity, and the university really is at risk with this stuff,” Cox said.

Computer science classes had the highest number of cases reported, and seniors committed 37 percent of the acts of academic misconduct, according to the Academic Integrity Annual Report.

Students with higher grade point averages had a higher number of reported cases.

“You’d think that the students who are getting the lower grades would be the more likely … Maybe their higher grades are because they’ve been cheating, you never know,” Cox said.

There is a misconduct process following an incident involving the student, the faculty member, and the Dean of Student’s office.

UW’s policy involves a confrontation from a professor or teaching assistant if cheating is suspected. After the confrontation, the faculty member can either deem the student innocent or give the student a lower grade or even a zero, as well as take the issue to the Dean of Student’s Office.

“We were also really pleased at the number of students who believed that measures were being taken to mitigate that, whether it’s in alternating tests, seating charts, different ways in which the tests were produced …” Berquam said.

In regard to discipline, expulsion is a drastic measure the administration tries to avoid, Cox said.

According to the Academic Integrity Annual Report, last academic year there were seven suspensions and zero expulsions. Suspensions are usually saved for second offenses and premeditated cheating, Cox said.

“It’s not very often we give up on a student here, which expulsion is giving up permanently. We do suspend some students for academic misconduct,” Cox said.

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