AJC ruling on alleged cheating in a Computer Networks and Data Communications course

On April 10, 2017 the Ashesi Judicial Committee (AJC) ruled on a case of alleged cheating in a Computer Networks and Data Communications course. While the infraction was initially presented as an Informal Resolution case, it was escalated to the AJC as a second offence, and ruled on accordingly.  

The AJC concluded that the student, a member of the Class of 2017, was guilty of cheating. The AJC established that the student copied the answers for a section of the assigned lab work from a Computer Networks solution manual.  

As stated in Ashesi’s student handbook:

Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism, unauthorized exchange of information or use of material during an examination, unauthorized transfer of information or completed work among students, use of the same paper in more than one course, unauthorized collaboration on assignments, and other unethical behavior.  Disciplinary action will be taken against perpetrators of academic dishonesty. – Section 7.4

An instructor who has good evidence to suspect a student or students of academic misconduct (e.g., cheating on an exam; plagiarism on a paper, lab reports, problem sets, or thesis work) will, at the faculty member’s discretion, consult the Head of Department or Provost about the case. Mere suspicion on the part of a faculty member that the student’s work does not sound right is normally not by itself sufficient grounds to bring a case forward in the absence of good evidence. Good evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Some of the student’s work coincides with or closely paraphrases a source that is not properly acknowledged. Sources that must be acknowledged include, but are not limited to, books, articles in books, journal articles, Web pages, graphs, charts, tables, data sets, etc., in any of the sources just mentioned. Proper acknowledgment must indicate both the source and how it served as a source for any specific portions of the student’s work that have been based on it.
  2. Glaring coincidences in the work of students on exams, papers, problem sets, etc., where cooperation producing the work was not permitted.– Section 12.4.

After deliberating, the AJC concluded that the student will receive a failing grade for the course.

Advice to the Ashesi Community

The AJC encourages the Community to consider how negligence, and a lack of good judgement can have grave repercussions and affect the wider community. The AJC would especially like to advise the Ashesi community of the following:

  • Student should submit work that reflects their true understanding of course content. Submitting copied answers from a textbook solution manual defeats the purpose of learning.
  • Students should make use of the channels provided by Faculty, Adjunct Faculty and Faculty Interns to seek clarification towards the completion of their work.
  • Students should realize that in a lab or an assignment, learning comes through doing and it is not only about the answers.
  • Faculty should be reminded that when they assess student work, they should look for evidence of students having gone through the process to arrive at the appropriate answer.
  • All students must pay attention to the content of their work to avoid any misconduct and related repercussions. Students with Informal Resolutions must pay extra attention. 

Academic integrity is very important to what we do at Ashesi. We trust that these experiences will encourage you to grow to be responsible citizens of our community at large.