CU Honor Code Office numbers

2008-2009

Reports of cheating: 148

Hearings: 25

Students found responsible in hearings: 25

2009-2010

Reports of cheating: 168

Hearings: 85

Students found responsible in hearings: 74

2010-2011

Reports of cheating: 228

Hearings: 39

Students found responsible in hearings: 20

2011-2012

Reports of cheating: 202

Hearings: 71

Students found responsible in hearings: 52

2012-2013

Reports of cheating: 279

Hearings: 79

Students found responsible in hearings: 62

Though reports of cheating are up at the University of Colorado, campus officials say that's because students in the Honor Code Office, which collects and investigates reports of cheating on campus, are doing a better job raising awareness about the tools available to faculty to curb academic dishonesty.

This year, the student-run office has been doing more outreach to the campus community and faculty, encouraging them to learn more about what their office does and how it creates a community of academic integrity, said honor code chair Will Hauptman.

From Aug. 1, 2012, to July 31, the office received 279 reports of cheating, up from 202 during that same time period across 2011 and 2012. The two most recent years are both up from the 148 incidents reported in 2008-2009, but Hauptman said the numbers aren't necessarily indicative of more students cheating.

"I know the numbers maybe look alarming, but the increase in reports does not mean cheating is on the rise," he said. "It does not mean there is some sort of moral or ethical dilemma at CU. It's a result of many factors. The most prominent in my mind is increased faculty involvement with our process."

The office recently finished a poster campaign, which featured a male student in a classroom with the words "Earn your degree" printed below the photo. The six CU students who run the Honor Code Office are hoping their outreach and posters will stick with students during finals week, which begins Saturday and is typically one of the busiest times of year for cheating.

CU students founded the honor code on campus in 1998 as a kind of self-policing way to promote academic integrity on campus. Hauptman said the office defines academic dishonesty as cheating, plagiarism, bribery, resubmission or any other form of unauthorized assistance on a test, paper or assignment.

Many other universities such as Stanford, the University of North Carolina, the University of Texas and others also have honor codes.

Once faculty report an incident of alleged cheating to the office, the accused student can either claim responsibility for the report or ask for a hearing. During a hearing, a volunteer panel of students reviews the evidence and decides if the accused student is responsible.

Students who are found responsible or admit responsibility for the alleged violation may be asked to attend a seminar on integrity and writing, they may receive a failing grade on the assignment or if the student is found responsible for repeated or multiple violations, they may be suspended from campus.

Hauptman said many faculty are relieved when they learn what the Honor Code Office does because they are typically "overwhelmed" at the thought of handling cheating on their own.

Faculty also use online plagiarism detector Turnitin.com, which scans submitted writing and compares it to other submitted works, webpages, journals and other publications. Data from Turnitin.com shows that more faculty are using the software to check for plagiarism, which could also explain the increase in cheating reports to the Honor Code Office, Hauptman said.

From 2011 to 2013, the number of CU instructors using the online service jumped from 508 to 1,842. The number of CU submissions to Turnitin.com also jumped, from 11,863 in 2011 to 139,644 in 2013.

CU's contract with Turnitin.com runs from August 2012 to August 2014 and costs $74,678.80. Funding for the service comes from CU's information technology office and the division of student affairs.

The number of hearings and students found responsible at those hearings has varied over the last five years. During the 2008-2009 school year, the office held 25 hearings and found 25 students responsible. In 2009-2010, those numbers jumped to 85 hearings and 74 students found responsible. The numbers dropped again in 2010-2011, and have remained steady for the last two years at between 70 and 80 hearings, and between 50 and 60 students found responsible.

The Honor Code Office also recently revised its website and conducted surveys to see how familiar faculty members were with the office.

CU officials are also trying to persuade faculty to include some information about what constitutes plagiarism and cheating at the beginning of each new semester, said associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education Michael Grant.

Those changes, plus the increased number of faculty using Turnitin.com, point to increased awareness, not increased cheating in Boulder, Grant added.

"We're making an effort to advertise," Grant said, "We have had a renewed effort in the last year or year and a half. We don't have any reason to think that student behavior has changed dramatically."

Contact Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.