Syllabus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Academic Integrity

This is a common quandary for faculty.  A tool used by the Aggie Honor System Office is to use the Aggie Honor Code (of which almost all students are aware) as a starting point that leads the students into an understanding of the definitions of academic misconduct (including plagiarism) that serve to actually prop up the Honor Code.  From that discussion, the next step involves having students understand that the decisions they make and the actions they take now in regards to academic integrity will shape the actions and decisions they make as former students and leaders in their chosen professions.  In essence, the goal is to have students understand that academic integrity is an important tool in growing into leaders of character and integrity.
 
First, it is important that all students understand that under the definitions of academic misconduct all assignments are to be completed individually unless the instructor indicates otherwise. Instructors will save themselves from potential violations in their classes by being very explicit with the students on what is expected from them in regards to individual work. It is important to avoid ambiguity. Violations occur when the students cannot discern the difference between discussing issues and topics from the class and then doing individual work in their assignments.  An instructor being explicit with their expectations from the outset can eliminate this disconnect for students.
 
There are three good reasons to report academic misconduct to our office.
 
  1. Identify Repeat Violators. These students need to be identified so that they can at the very least receive the remediation that they need. In many cases it is necessary to separate them from the university as they fail to grasp what is required of all students at Texas A&M University.
  2. Remove the possibility that a student would win a grade dispute. Students whose grades are altered based on the presumption of academic misconduct but are not allowed to go through the Aggie Honor System Office will win a grade dispute within the student rules under the guise that the faculty member’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.
  3. Remove the potential for individual liability in any legal action. In some instances a grade received based on presumed academic misconduct may alter the student’s status at the university. This may spur legal action. If the academic misconduct is not reported to the Aggie Honor System Office, the Attorney General’s office may find that the faculty member was not acting within the “scope of their employment” and therefore, not give that faculty member legal representation as is normally afforded.

 
Over 75% of the cases of academic misconduct processed by the Aggie Honor System Office were handled autonomously by faculty. Autonomous means that the faculty met with the student, provided them the evidence of why they feel there is a violation, allowed the student to state their side, and then filed a report electronically with the Aggie Honor System Office. In most cases a student will acknowledge the violation and accept the sanction at the time of filing.  No further action is necessary.  The report takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The student does have the opportunity to appeal in some situations. Also, if the student is not available for the meeting, the faculty member may still handle the case autonomously and the Aggie Honor System Office will meet with the student to go over the information and the student’s options.
 
If the faculty member feels the evidence is indisputable then they should handle it autonomously.  If they are not sure that academic misconduct has occurred but feels there is certainly a question of the student’s academic integrity in a situation then they can forward the case to the Honor Council. The Aggie Honor System Office will then assign two Honor Council Investigators (one faculty, one student) to meet with the faculty reporter and the student alleged violator (and other witnesses if necessary). They will determine if there is sufficient evidence to forward to a Hearing Panel (occurs over 95% of the time). A hearing will then be scheduled at all parties’ convenience where a hearing panel comprised of two faculty honor council members and two student honor council members will determine if the alleged violator is responsible for academic misconduct and if they are found responsible what the appropriate sanction should be.
 
A faculty member should look at three things when determining a student’s sanction:
 
  1. Premeditation: Was there a degree of planning and forethought sufficient to show intent to commit an act?
  2. Flagrancy: Was the act of misconduct glaringly bad or outrageous?
  3. Truthfulness: Did the student tell the truth when confronted?

The student’s behavior in light of these three factors should determine the severity of the sanction. The most severe sanction a faculty member can give is an “F*” which is a permanent F in the course and the student is placed on Honor Violation Probation. The probation can only be removed by the student successfully completing Remediation within a year of the sanction.
 

You will find the violation report form on-line at the following URL: https://ahso.tamu.edu/SystemEntrance.aspx

You will simply need to log-in with your NetID and password and then follow the instructions on the form.

  1. Proctor your exams closely. If you are in a large lecture hall it is wise to have more than one proctor monitoring the room. Regularly walking around the room and observing the students’ behavior will deter any malfeasance.
  2. Ask the students to move all backpacks, cell phones, food, drinks, and any other item not essential to completing the test to the side of the room or at least out of arm’s length.
  3. If a calculator is required for the exam make sure all potential formulas are erased from memory, the calculator cover is put out of arm’s length or sight range, or allow only the use of a four function calculator if possible.
  4. Pick up all blue books prior to the test and redistribute them at random.
  5. If your class is writing intensive, utilize plagiarism databases such as Turnitin.com to allow students to check their work prior to turning it in to you as well as checking it once you have received it. Please contact our office if you have questions about these services.
If you have any questions whatsoever, please contact the Aggie Honor System Office at 458-3378 or aggiehonor@tamu.edu.
 


Americans with Disabilities

It is not recommended that an instructor modify the ADA statement, provided by the institution, for use in the syllabus. If the instructor would like to add information, specific to their class, then it is advised that the instructor contact the Department of Disability Services to insure that the additional information is appropriate.
 
No. While it is strongly encouraged of students to notify their instructors of any disability needs as early in the semester as possible, students have the right to disclose their disability needs at any time. Remember, some students may not be identified as having a disability until a later point in the semester and would require academic accommodations at that time (e.g., a student may be diagnosed with a health impairment in the middle of a semester which will require academic accommodations; the student had no control over when the health impairment would have been diagnosed).
 
No.  A student with a disability only needs to disclose their identification as a student with a disability if they are requesting academic accommodations from the instructor.  It is not uncommon for a student with a disability to progress through a class without the need for accommodations due to the instructor’s teaching style, the class content, the requirements of the class do not dictate a need for accommodations, etc.
 
Do I have a voice in the matter? The professional staff within the Department of Disability Services makes recommendations for academic accommodations based on evaluative information of the student’s disability and the impact of that disability on learning. However, it is possible that there are times when a recommendation for accommodations conflicts with an essential element of the class. At that time, it is recommended that the faculty member contact the Department of Disability Services and arrange for discussion on the situation. (See Student Rule 46.1)
 
Yes. The professional staff members in the Department of Disability Services are available to consult with any instructor on instructional strategies and techniques that would ensure universal design of the class so that all students would benefit equally from the instruction.
 
Students with disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs, activities, services, and facilities offered at Texas A&M University. Students are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. All information about the student’s disability is to be kept confidential. Students have the responsibility to provide current and comprehensive documentation of disabilities and to register with the Department of Disability Services if they need accommodations. If a student needs accommodations for a particular class, it is their responsibility to inform the instructor of that need.
 
An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the Department of Disability Services. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with Disability Services in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to Disability Services who requests accommodations but is not currently registered with the department. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with Disability Services.
 
The student who needs accommodations due to a disabling condition must submit current and comprehensive documentation of the disability to Disability Services. The Documentation Review Committee reviews the documentation submitted and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the functional limitations of the student and the essential elements of the course.
 
Yes. The instructor should refer the student to Disability Services staff.  If the instructor is uncomfortable doing so or not sure how to approach the student with this referral information, the instructor may call Disability Services and speak with an Accommodations Counselor for consultation. The student has the right not to follow up on the referral as affiliation with Disability Services is voluntary.