Originally created 09/23/05

UGA academic dishonesty claims rise



ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia officials processed 258 academic dishonesty cases last year, the most since the university adopted a new academic honesty policy and procedures five years ago.

It's not because UGA students are getting more dishonest; it's because faculty have become more acquainted with the process, said the official who administers the program.

"That's why the numbers are continuing to rise," said Debbie Craddock-Bell, the coordinator for academic honesty at UGA.

The 258 academic honesty cases in the 2004-05 school year are only a slight increase from the previous year's 255, and Ms. Craddock-Bell believes the rate has probably stabilized after increasing fairly steadily from the first year under the new policy, when there were 173 cases.

Of the 258 cases, 159 students admitted to cheating. Of the rest, 17 were found to have violated the policy after a hearing, and the charge was dismissed in 59 cases. Instructors withdrew the accusation in 18 cases.

Five cases were still pending as of UGA's annual academic honesty report given to the executive committee of UGA's University Council last week.

Some on the committee wondered if 258 cases is a lot, but there's no clear answer. Ms. Craddock-Bell says she thinks 258 is probably not a huge number, representing less than 1 percent of about 33,000 students enrolled in UGA classes.

But chemistry professor James Anderson, the chairman of the University Council's Educational Affairs Committee, is not so sure.

"That's a darned good question," Mr. Anderson said. As a percentage the number is small, but it's just "the tip of the iceberg," he said.

UGA changed its academic honesty policies five years ago to streamline and standardize the process. Once an accusation is lodged, the first step is a "facilitated discussion," and in most cases, students admit the deed and take the penalty, which is an F and a notation on the student's transcript. A second incident means expulsion.

The penalty for cheating is severe, but one case does not mean the end of a student's academic career, Ms. Craddock-Bell said.

According to the report, all but a few academic dishonesty cases involve either plagiarism or "unauthorized assistance."