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NDSU faculty members seek to establish cheating registry

FARGO -- Some faculty at North Dakota State University want to create a central list of students found guilty of cheating.

Faculty who support the idea say they currently have no way of knowing if a student they're dealing with has a history of cheating elsewhere on campus.

About 63 percent of faculty who participated in a recent poll say they want NDSU to establish a registry for academic dishonesty.

But others who took the survey said the idea seemed like a black list and worried how it would affect students who learn from their mistakes.

Chemistry professor Kent Rodgers said students caught cheating already are punished with lower grades for that assignment or the entire course.

"If a student is a habitual cheater, it will catch up with them and it will show up in their overall performance, that is, their GPA," Rodgers said.

Psychology professor Jim Council presented the idea to faculty last week and plans to bring it to the NDSU Senate in January.

Council led a committee in the College of Math and Science that studied academic dishonesty and developed recommendations to strengthen NDSU's policies.

"It's been apparent for a long time that there's no way to track cheating," Council said.

The idea for a list is in the discussion stage, and details about how such a list would work have not been determined.

Council said it may be that only severe cases of cheating or plagiarism - such as those that result in failing a course - would wind up on a list.

"It couldn't just be hearsay," Council said. "A student would have to be definitely guilty of cheating."

One of the goals of creating such a list is to put the issue out front and let students know how seriously NDSU considers academic integrity, Council said.

David Silkenat, an assistant professor in the School of Education, said that respect for academic integrity should be emphasized.

"We need to create a culture of honor among our students," he said.

Other campuses across the country do have similar types of lists or methods for tracking students with repeat violations, Council said.

Locally, Concordia College requires all violations of academic integrity to be reported to the provost's office.

There is a confidential list used by the provost to determine if a student has more than one violation.

At Minnesota State University Moorhead, Judicial Affairs Officer Ashley Atteberry keeps records of cases that reach her office.

But some cases are resolved by faculty without going to judicial affairs, so she may not always know if a student is a repeat offender, Atteberry said.

During the NDSU faculty discussion, some said they favored marking students' transcripts to indicate they failed a course due to cheating.

Amber Altstadt, NDSU's student body president, said she supports efforts to deter cheating, but she has concerns about marking a student's transcript.

"Sometimes a student may make a mistake, and to have it on their record for so long may be a difficult thing," Altstadt said.