Academic integrity policy

Basic information

At Calvin, the student-faculty relationship is based on trust and mutual respect. This trust can be seriously undermined by the suspicion or reality of academic dishonesty.

Purpose of Academic Work

Faculty members design academic assignments in order to help students learn. Calvin College expects students to display honesty and responsibility in completing these assignments. Faculty members assign course grades based on each student’s performance and on each student’s independent mastery of course objectives. Calvin College therefore expects that all course work submitted by students reflects each student’s own individual efforts toward learning.

Forms of Academic Dishonesty

Definitions and Examples

Cheating and Using Unauthorized Material on Examinations

All examinations are to be completed by each student alone, without assistance of any kind. For tests, that means no help is to be sought, given to or received from other persons; no books, notes, cellphones, iPods, calculators, or other materials or devices of any kind are to be consulted unless expressly authorized by the instructor.

If a professor allows certain aids or materials during a test or exam, it is the student’s responsibility to fully understand the expectations and limits of the situation prior to completing and submitting the coursework or evaluation. For example, if a calculator or other hand-held electronic device is permitted to be used for mathematical calculations, no other information may be programmed into or retrieved from the device.

Cheating and Using Unauthorized Material in Coursework

There are many types of course assignments ranging from collaborative to individual assignments. It is the student’s responsibility to fully understand the expectations and limits of the situation prior to completing and submitting the coursework. For homework assignments, it may not be appropriate to consult and submit solutions found in published solution manuals or on-line.

Attempting to Commit Academic Dishonesty

Attempting or preparing to cheat constitutes academic dishonesty, even if the attempt is discovered before it is completed. For example, possessing unauthorized notes or devices during an examination constitutes academic dishonesty even if they have not yet been used. Asking others for help in cheating constitutes academic dishonesty even if nobody responds and no cheating ultimately occurs. It is the student’s responsibility to approach all academic assignments in a way that does not raise suspicions of academic dishonesty.

Improper Collaboration

Many classes emphasize working with a partner or in groups. Permission from the professor to "work together" on a homework assignment, project, or paper allows students to collaborate on certain clearly defined stages of an assignment; it does not allow them to violate the rules of integrity by copying answers from someone else or by presenting another student's work as their own. Unless the professor specifies otherwise, it is assumed that all work submitted for a grade will represent the student's own understanding, and will thus be expressed in the student's own words or symbols (e.g. calculations, computer code, etc). When a student's work is identical or very similar to someone else's at points where individual variations in expression would be expected, it is reasonable for the professor to suspect that academic dishonesty has occurred.

Multiple Submission of Coursework

Submitting the same assignment or substantial portions of the same work for more than one class violates the principle that every assignment should advance a student's learning and growth. Unless a professor expressly allows it, submitting an assignment that has already been submitted for another class is a form of academic dishonesty.

Fabrication, Falsification, Forgery, Lying to Gain Academic Advantage.

Note: “Falsification” means falsely altering data or results. “Fabrication” means inventing personal experiences or data or counterfeiting data or research results.

Lying or otherwise falsifying information in order to gain academic advantage constitutes academic dishonesty. Examples: Lying to an instructor or submitting falsified or fabricated documents in order to gain exemptions from or alterations to course requirements (e.g. to obtain excused absences, deadline extensions, makeup examinations, grades of Incomplete, or admission to a class or program); falsifying documents or forging signatures for academic advantage; falsifying data (e.g. in an assigned lab project), or fabricating quotations or sources (e.g. for a paper); reporting false information about a practicum or clinical experience; altering a returned examination or paper to seek re-grading. All of these actions will be treated as forms of academic dishonesty, for they undermine the integrity and fairness of the College’s policies, and dishonor the expectation of mutual trust among all members of the academic community.

Assisting Others in Academic Dishonesty

Helping someone else to cheat is itself an act of academic dishonesty. Examples: Providing completed assignments, papers, copies of quizzes, tests, or examinations, or any other form of written or oral help, to another student when you know or should reasonably suspect that the other student may use it to cheat.

Stealing or Vandalism of Academic Resources

Stealing or tampering with another student’s work in order to gain academic advantage is a form of academic dishonesty. For example, it is a form of academic dishonesty to take, conceal, or withhold work submitted by another person in order to prevent others from using it or benefitting from it; to take reserved academic resources or to remove or destroy library materials, examinations, or computer programs for academic advantage; and to steal or destroy other students' work if the action will foreseeably lead to an academic advantage for oneself. It is also a form of academic dishonesty to gain or attempt to gain unauthorized access to faculty offices, email accounts, course management services, or other restricted domains in order to alter grades, gain access to examinations, or otherwise gain improper academic advantage.


All written assignments submitted for credit must demonstrate the student's own understanding in the student's own words. This means all writing assignments, whether completed in class or out of class, are assumed to be composed entirely of words composed by the student, except where words written by someone else are specifically marked as such with proper citation. Drawing on other writers’ words and ideas is a valuable and sometimes indispensable part of academic writing, but when one make use of other writers’ words and ideas, it is essential to acknowledge the sources fully and accurately. Using other writers’ words and ideas without proper acknowledgment is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is one of the most serious forms of academic dishonesty.

Some students arrive at college without being completely familiar with the rules and conventions of academic citation. Calvin College endeavors to familiarize all students with these conventions thoroughly in English 101 and other classes that deal extensively with written rhetoric. The English Department’s definition of plagiarism in written rhetoric is given here:

It is each student’s individual responsibility, however, even before completing English 101, to know and abide by the basic principles of citation enumerated below.

More detailed explanations and examples of these conventions can be found in the “Writing with Integrity” guide of the Rhetoric Across the Curriculum website.

See especially these sections:
“What is plagiarism”?”
“Citing your sources”
“How to format citations”

Each of the following offenses constitutes plagiarism:
  1. Copying verbatim, (word for word) without acknowledgment.

    The most egregious form of plagiarism is to copy part or all of another author’s text without indicating in any way that the words are someone else's. This suggests a deliberate intent to deceive the reader and take credit for another’s work. This kind of plagiarism on a large scale (e.g. copying all or most of a paper from an unacknowledged source) may lead to failure in a course.

  2. Copying verbatim and identifying the source but failing to acknowledge direct quotation as such.

    If you borrow language from another author, it is not adequate to acknowledge the source in a general way (e.g. in a parenthetical source reference or a footnote). All direct quotations from sources must BOTH place the quoted material in quotation marks AND use an acceptable form of citation to indicate where the words come from.

  3. Copying distinctive language or sentence structure from a source without acknowledgment.

    Expressing someone else’s ideas in your own words is called "paraphrasing." Language that is genuinely paraphrased does not have to be identified as a quotation. But language that is only partly paraphrased, and still retains distinctive characteristics of the original source (e.g. by mixing unacknowledged phrases from the original with one’s own words, or by extensively mimicking the sentence structure of the original without acknowledgment), can also constitute plagiarism. (This kind of plagiarism is often called “mosaic plagiarism.”)

    Further examples of mosaic plagiarism can be found on the RAC website under “Avoid these plagiarism pitfalls”.

  4. Presenting the results of other writers’ research, or significant arguments, information, or citations from other sources, without acknowledging these sources.

    Not only quotations, but ideas and information from other sources that is not widely known must be acknowledged with proper citation. It can, admittedly, be difficult for students to know what information can be considered “widely known” and what is unique enough to a given source to require citation. But students must always avoid conveying a false impression that the conclusions in a paper rest on their own research or reading when they are in fact based on others’ research or reading.

    For specific examples, see examples #2 and #3 on this page and “Pitfall #4” under “Plagiarism pitfalls”.

  5. The Rules against Plagiarism apply to all assignments.

    The rules of plagiarism apply to all college level assignments including take-home tests, comprehensive examinations, "review of the literature" sections of assignments, and all college writing assignments.

  6. Resources for Avoiding Plagiarism

    Each of the links provided below have additional information about citations, writing and avoiding plagiarism:

Faculty Process for Responding to Academic Integrity Issues

Judicial Affairs staff members are available to assist faculty members in responding to academic integrity issues.

Judicial Affairs Contact Information:

Jane Hendriksma
Dean of Judicial Affairs
(616) 526-6117

Ralph Johnson
Assistant Dean of Judicial Affairs
(616) 526-7061

Rose Petrowski
Department Assistant (part-time)
(616) 526-6116

Addressing Academic Integrity Issues

A Step by Step Process

  1. Faculty member discovers or receives a report of an incident (or suspected incident) of plagiarism or academic dishonesty.
  2. Faculty member investigates, gathers, and reviews evidence.
  3. Faculty member prepares a written summary of the evidence to support a charge of academic dishonesty.
  4. Faculty member contacts any member of Judicial Affairs to determine whether the student has any prior reports of academic dishonesty. According to college policy, in egregious cases or in repeat cases of academic dishonesty, the faculty member has the option to impose an F for the entire course.
  5. Faculty member may opt to consult with Judicial Affairs when facing a complicated or unclear situation or when dealing with a difficult student. Judicial Affairs staff members are available to discuss evidence, explore options, or clarify the process. Faculty members may also decide to refer the entire case to Judicial Affairs for follow up and adjudication.
  6. Faculty member informs the student of the accusation and presents the evidence.
  7. Faculty member asks for a student response to the evidence. Several possible scenarios may then develop, each of which calls for different consequences:
    1. The student provides new evidence that leads the faculty member to withdraw the claim of academic dishonesty. In this case, no further action is required.
    2. Student admits to academic dishonesty and accepts responsibility for the violation. In this case, the faculty member may impose the sanction that s/he finds appropriate. The faculty member must also fill out an academic dishonesty report and forward it to Dean of Students, Jane Hendriksma, for filing. This confidential file will be kept and accessed in the event of another academic integrity incident with the student.
    3. The student neither admits guilt nor provides satisfactory evidence to change the faculty member’s assessment of the evidence. The faculty member imposes the sanction that s/he finds appropriate and informs the student that the case will be referred to Student Life/Judicial Affairs for follow up. The faculty member must also fill out an academic dishonesty report form and forward it to Dean of Students, Jane Hendriksma, for filing.
    4. The student denies guilt. The faculty member contacts Student Life (Jane Hendriksma or Ralph Johnson) to refer the student for follow-up. The faculty member proposes the appropriate sanction, summarizes the evidence, and forwards a copy to Judicial Affairs. Once a decision has been reached on the case, Judicial Affairs will contact the faculty member with the outcome and prepare a report to file on the student.
  8. If the facts of the case are complicated, the faculty member and Judicial Affairs may opt to adjudicate the case together.
  9. If the academic dishonesty is discovered at the end of a semester when grades are due, the faculty member may submit a NR (no report) grade for the student while waiting for the case to run the course of a due process hearing. Once a decision has been reached in the case, a course grade can be submitted to replace the NR.

Note: Students have the right to due process when facing a charge that they deny. A Judicial Affairs staff member will conduct a due process hearing. Students also have the right to appeal the original decision and/or sanction to an Administrative Hearing Panel. Judicial Affairs will assume responsibility for the process and may request some assistance from the faculty member in preparing the evidence for the hearing and/or appeal.

D. Students Reporting Academic Integrity Violations

  1. If a student becomes aware of academic dishonesty during a test in class the best thing to do is to notify the professor immediately. This way the professor can address the situation and gather evidence in the moment.

    Here are some examples of ways students have alerted professors in past situations: Students have walked to the front of the class and told the professor, “John Doe is using his cell phone during this test.” Or, students have pretended to have a question for the professor and then pointed to a message to the professor written on the top of their own test paper: “Joe Smith is cheating, he has answers written on his hand” or “The woman in the pink sweater is cheating, she keeps reaching into her tote bag and pulling out cheat sheets.”

  2. If the student cannot figure out how to alert professor during a test, students have the option to email a professor or stop by the professor’s office soon after the test is completed. It is most helpful if the student sends or communicates detailed and descriptive information about what they observed. The professor will respond and work with the reporting student to fully understand the situation and the evidence. The professor will address the situation using the established college process.

    Here is an example of a descriptive report sent via email to a professor:
    Dear Professor, I noticed during our exam today that a male student (I think his name is Andrew) was cheating. I am not sure of his name but he is the guy with brown hair who always wears a baseball cap to class. He sits one seat ahead of my seat and in the row of desks to my left.

    I think he was cheating because I heard him paging through his test a lot and from my angle I could see that he had a cheat sheet in between the pages of his test. The cheat sheet was an index card so it was noticeable because it was much smaller than the pages of the test. I noticed he kept paging to the back of the test to read what he had written (it looked hand written) on the index card.

    Later, I noticed that he also took out his phone and he seemed to be scrolling through notes on his phone. He did not type or text, it was more using his index finger to scroll on the screen of his phone. He would look at his phone and then he would turn to his test and write on it. Then, he would look at the phone again and then write on his test. He kept the phone “hidden” between his knees while he wrote on test and then he would pull it out again.

    Also, I think Audrey noticed this too. I saw her looking at him when he was using his phone. She looked up to see if you noticed he had his phone out and then she went back to working on her own test

  3. Students who would rather not communicate directly with the professor may send an email to a Judicial Affairs staff member (see contact information below) to report an instance of academic dishonesty. The student can make a report by sending an email with a detailed description of the situation of the academic dishonesty. The staff member will respond and work with the student to fully understand the situation and the evidence. The staff member will address the situation using the established college process.

    If a student has concerns about making a report as an identified witness, the student may contact a staff member in Judicial Affairs to discuss the situation. The staff member will try to address the student’s concerns and may be able to protect the identity of the witneacass and still pursue disciplinary action. If the student concerns cannot be addressed then the student retains the right to withdraw the witness testimony. While Calvin does allow and pursue anonymous reports, anonymous reports almost always limit the college’s ability to follow up on the misconduct.

    Contact Information for Judicial Affairs Staff

    Jane Hendriksma
    Dean of Students for Judicial Affairs

    Ralph Johnson
    Assistant Dean of Students for Judicial Affairs


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