Dealing with cheating cases

ISC and Instructor Responsibilities

For ISG supported courses, ISCs will work together with course instructors in dealing with cheating cases. While the course ISC will be responsible for administrative procedures, instructors' involvement could be minimal or some of the following, based on an agreement between the course ISC and instructor(s):

  • discuss suspected cheating cases and decide the ones that need to proceed further, i.e email students and/or meet with students;
  • attend the meeting with students together with the course ISC;
  • proofread the report that the ISC prepares for sending to the Academic Integrity Officer.

Contact the course ISC if you have questions about cheating cases. 

For all other courses, dealing with cheating cases is one of the course instructors' responsibilities. Contact the Math Faculty Academic Integrity Officer for any questions.

Penalty and time lines

Cheating cases will need to be processed as soon as possible within the time lines given in Policy 71: Appendix A - Academic Discipline Procedure. The penalty should be decided following the Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.

Email to students

Once a cheating case is decided, a message to explain the situation and penalty should be emailed individually to students rather than to a group of students together. The latter violates Policy 46, in particular Principles and Practices regarding privacy and confidentiality.

In the email you will also need to ask the student to reply and state whether or not they accept the penalty.  The sample email below shows the template you could use to contact the students. If the students want to meet with you to discuss the case, you will need to schedule a meeting with them. Otherwise, you can report the case directly to the Academic Integrity Officer as highlighted in the last section.

Sample email to send to students

Email to students

I have reviewed your assignment_____ in CS______. [Brief explanation here about similarity].  It involves a charge of cheating through___________.(plagiarism, excessive collaboration)
The standard penalty for a charge of cheating is zero on [assignment question number(s)] and a 5% deduction off of the overall course grade. In addition, you would be placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of your undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo. The meaning of disciplinary probation is that any subsequent offences will meet with a significantly stiffer penalty. Although your grade in the course would be affected by the penalty imposed by the instructor, there would be no indication on your transcript either that the grade reflects a disciplinary penalty or that the disciplinary probation has been imposed.
Please let me know whether or not you accept that an offence occurred and this penalty by ________ , and I will include this information in my report to the Academic Integrity Office, Math Faculty. If I don't hear from you or you don't accept the penalty the above office will review your case and proceed on the evidence I have.

Meet with students

Same as the above, emails to students for scheduling a meeting will need to be sent individually rather than to a group of students together. The latter violates Policy 46, in particular Principles and Practices regarding privacy and confidentiality.

It's recommended to meet with students individually due to privacy concerns as well. However, if for some reason you prefer to meet with the students who are involved in the same case together, you will need to get their consent for doing so. Without their agreement in writing, you open up the Faculty to a lawsuit for privacy violations.

For example, you can include the following question in your individual emails: 

Do you consent to have another student whose code looks highly similar to yours in your meeting? YES__ NO___

Report to the Academic Integrity Officer

Write a memo to explain the case and send it to the Math Faculty's Academic Integrity Officer. The memo usually includes a brief description of the situation, the students’ explanation (if any) and whether or not they accepted the penalty. If the students didn’t accept the penalty, attach their assignments to the memo. Students should get a copy of the memo (e.g. via email).

The Academic Integrity Officer will send an official letter of the decision to the students, or contact the students for further investigation.