Faculty have a unique opportunity to educate students not only with regards to the content of their academic discipline, but also about the College's expectations for behavior.
There are steps you can take to prevent or at least minimize disruption in the classroom, but it is inevitable that some students will push boundaries at some point. It is helpful for you to know ways in which you can intervene at that time, as well as what the College's formal procedures are when the situation is beyond your control, when physical safety is at risk, or when you have attempted appropriate classroom management strategies and the student is not complying.
This figure demonstrates the spectrum of behaviors, and should give you a sense of when to intervene or to refer the situation elsewhere:
Classroom management is a crucial but not always enjoyable aspect of the responsibilities of college faculty members. There are a variety of proactive steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of disruption to the learning environment, including:
- Getting to know your students and developing positive relationships with them.
- Providing and explaining your expectations for behavior and academic performance.
- Being reasonable with your expectations and treating students like adults.
- Applying standards consistently - for both academics and behavior.
Respecting college procedures and balancing students' individual rights with the goals and mission of the college.
It is likely that you will experience academic dishonesty from one or more students, even with preventative actions in place. There are two things to remember when you are trying to determine whether academic dishonesty occurred. First, don't take it personally. Second, remember that the standard of proof used in determining whether a student engaged in misconduct on campus is a "preponderance of the evidence" or "more likely than not". This means that if you are more than 50% sure that a student engaged in academic dishonesty, that can be your finding. As you review the information, you are encouraged to consult with your academic department Chair and/or Dean. You are also welcome to contact the Associate Dean of Campus Life and Student Conduct with questions about the process.
If you believe that a student has engaged in academic dishonesty, you should have a conversation with the student about the incident, and how to avoid it in the future. If, after that conversation, you believe the student violated the academic standards set forward, you can issue an appropriate academic grade penalty. These consequences are often set within departments, and vary from allowing a rewrite of an assignment to failure of an assignment or course.
Regardless of whether you issue an academic grade penalty or not, you should still report the incident to Student Conduct using the Academic Dishonesty Referral Process. Student Conduct will inform the student of the receipt of the form, of the academic complaint process if he/she would like to appeal the decision, and also of the process and consequences of any future alleged violations. You should then monitor to ensure the student does not attempt to withdraw/drop the course in an attempt to avoid the academic penalty imposed. Should this occur, report it to the Student Conduct Officer.
Be advised that the student has the right to challenge your decision through the Academic Complaint Process, outlined on p. 20 of the Student Code of Conduct. The first step in this process is for the student to speak to you within ten school days of being informed about your decision. If the student is not satisfied with that conversation, the next step is for the student to appeal your decision by providing a written complaint to your Chair, Coordinator, or Director within ten days of hearing your response to his/her complaint. The student may then challenge the decision with the Associate Dean and ultimately the Provost.
If the student is found to have engaged in academic dishonesty in more than one course, he/she may be subject to a campus conduct process. If you feel that the academic dishonesty is so egregious that it warrants a response beyond the scope of the grade for the course, you can request that the campus conduct process be initiated in addition to any academic grade penalty you provide for the course. Examples of situations like this: when someone steals a test and shares it with others prior to the exam, hacking into the computer system and altering a grade, etc. The Student Conduct Officer will review the information and determine if the campus conduct process should be initiated.
The College offers a variety of avenues for formal complaint procedures, depending on the nature of the complaint. First, it is important to remember that if a situation can be managed through classroom management techniques, that is preferable since it enables you to give the student timely feedback about their behavior, and reinforces the standards you have already provided. If you address a low-level incident and you just want it documented somewhere in case the behavior continues, you can always report that as an informational incident so that the Student Conduct Officer is aware of it. However, If the situation is egregious (involves a threat to physical safety or significant disruption that can't be managed), consider one of the following:
- If the incident requires an immediate response, contact the Arizona Western College Police Department at 928-314-9500. Examples include:
- A person or student with a weapon
- A person or student who appears intoxicated or in a similarly altered state of mind
- An unknown person who is a significant disruption to the campus
- To report a crime
- Other concerns can be reported online for review and response by the College. The information will be reviewed and routed to the appropriate College entity: possible threats will be forwarded to Associate Dean of Campus Life and Student Conduct and all other incidents of student behavior will be reviewed by the Student Conduct Officer. Examples of incidents to report include:
- A person who jokes about bombing the College or shooting someone
- A student who is not complying with your clearly provided instructions
- Harassment or aggressive behavior
- Students who engage in theft, disruption, or other policy violations
- If the complaint pertains to academic dishonesty, you can file an academic dishonesty report after you speak to the student.
- If the complaint pertains to sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, you are encouraged to review the College's Title IX website and file a report online.
Review the Resource Guide Folder and Tips for Documenting Incidents for more information about what you should report. It is most helpful for reports to be made in first-person and in a timely fashion. Please feel free to consult with your Chair/Dean about the incident, but please remember that the timeliness of the report may be critical to investigation and/or resolution of the issue.
So long as there is not a threat to physical safety, you are encouraged to speak to students about behaviors that may be concerning, disruptive, or annoying. This maximizes the opportunity for learning by letting the student hear directly from you how their behavior may have impacted others. If you decide not to confront a student about his/her behavior, at least one of these things usually happens:
- You will continue to be frustrated and the student may never know why, and therefore is not likely to stop the behavior
- The student will engage in more egregious behaviors if he/she thinks your boundaries can continue to be pushed
- Other students may withdraw from your course if they perceive you aren't addressing the behavior
- You determine later that you wish you would have done something about it, but then it feels too late
- The student drops the course but then enrolls in a future course of yours (or another instructor's) and he/she presumes the behavior is acceptable
The following outline can be helpful as you determine how to discuss behaviors of concern with students:
- Build rapport and explain why you want to talk to the student. Remember that you both have the same goal - for him/her to be successful at Arizona Western College.
- Describe (in detail) the behavior that occurred.
- Describe the effects of the behavior - both on you as the instructor as well as on others in the class, including the student him/herself.
- Ask the student why this may have occurred, and then listen to the student's perspective. Don't interrupt them, and don't get defensive.
- Inform the student what your expectations are for the future. Ideally, this will just be reiterating what is already on your syllabus or in the Student Code of Conduct.
- Offer ways that you can help the student to be successful in changing the behavior. An example might include that if the student attempts to interrupt, you will motion discretely with your hand for the student to stop talking. It is also helpful to ask if the student is connected to any campus resources (such as Health and Wellness, Accessibility Services, an advisor/counselor). If not, you can offer to provide the student with contact information for these offices.
- Describe what will happen if the student continues with the same behavior. Examples might include meeting with the Chair of the department or being asked to step outside until he/she can control the behavior.
- Inform the student how you plan to follow up on the situation. Frame this as you are attempting to ensure that you have communicated clearly, so that you are both on the same page. Often an email is a convenient way to do this - you can summarize the conversation and offer information about campus resources. This also ensures that you have documented the situation in case it happens again. Depending on the situation, you might also inform your department Chair and/or Dean.
While these steps may seem simple, they do actually work when it comes to figuring out how to approach situations that are frustrating or cause discomfort. Having these conversations makes it much easier to focus on your teaching, and to ensure you are providing feedback to students so they can rise to the level of your expectations. If they do not, then it makes it easier to file a formal report the next time the behavior happens.
Research indicates that over 1/3 of undergraduate college students admit to plagiarism, and 43% admit to cheating on written assignments or tests. (Source: plagiarism.org) Remember that it is often the high-achieving students who cheat, not necessarily the students at risk of failing your course. Make sure you are consistent in addressing the behavior - regardless of whether you like the student or whether he/she is a "good" student or not.
Efforts can be made to educate students on the academic standards, minimize opportunities for academic dishonesty, and reduce the likelihood that a student will attempt to be dishonest in your course. Many students choose dishonesty because they see it as a shortcut amid all of their other life responsibilities. If they think they can get away with it, they are likely to try it. However, there are some measures you can take to deter it:
- Beginning with the first day of class, get to know your students. Use first names. When students feel like you acknowledge them as individuals, they will want to succeed in your course and will be less likely to violate your expectations.
- Provide clear definitions and expectations in your syllabus, along with examples for violating the standards. Communicate these not only in writing, but through conversation.
- Spend time discussing citation - some students may have been educated through a cultural lens which approaches paraphrasing and citation differently than in the United States.
- Provide examples - especially of paraphrasing and incorrectly citing sources.
- Remind students to record their sources, even in rough drafts.
- During tests:
- Switch up the seating. Don't let study buddies or good friends sit next to each other.
- Walk around and be visible. Pay attention to what the students are doing.
- Make multiple versions of tests, with the questions in random order. Tell students you are doing this - the goal isn't to catch them cheating, it is to prevent it!
- Make up new tests each semester.
- Don't allow temptations - breaks, hats, cell phones, etc.
- For writing assignments:
- Get a writing sample at the start of the semester to use as a baseline for the student's writing ability.
- Give assignments with a personalized topic, or select different topics each semester so students can't purchase old papers.
- It IS still important to ensure you are accommodating the needs of students who are registered with Accessibility Services and who have provided you with written notice from Accessibility Services of the nature of their accommodation(s). Having a disability doesn't give a student a free pass to engage in academic dishonesty or any other kind of conduct that violates rules of the College. If you have concerns about maintaining the integrity of a test or an assignment while honoring an accommodation plan, contact ADS with your questions.
Once a student is admitted to Arizona Western College, he/she is entitled to pursue the educational opportunities that Arizona Western College offers and is also entitled to the procedural protections that AWC provides to students. Some of those protections include:
- If a student meets the pre-requirements and enrolls in a course pursuant to college procedures, he/she can attend the course.
- If charged with violating the Student Code of Conduct, a student has the right to know what he/she is accused of violating and has the opportunity to respond to that complaint.
- To review information contained in his/her education record, as described in the campus FERPA policy.
This means that it is important that you educate yourself on the procedures of the College, and that you don't act outside of them. Your department chair and/or dean, Arizona Western College Police, the Student Conduct Office, and the Associate Dean of Campus Life and Student Conduct can assist you if you have questions about college procedures pertaining to student behavior. Some key points include:
- If you need to ask a student to leave class due to disruptive behavior, it should only be for that specific class period and there shouldn't be an academic penalty imposed. If there is work or a quiz missed, you should consult with your Division Chair as to whether or not you should allow the student to make it up.
- If you have filed an academic dishonesty Incident Report, it is important to remember that the student may decide to challenge your decision.
- This means you shouldn't dissuade the student from finishing the rest of the course in case your decision is overturned by the department Chair, Dean, or Conduct Officer.
- Students can't be removed from class permanently unless a formal campus process occurs, such as the student conduct process or the process documented in handbooks and distributed to students by special-admit programs.
- In certain situations, students may still be interimly prohibited from attending class while a campus conduct process occurs - this means you would need to report the incident to police and/or file a formal student conduct complaint. Both AWCPD and the Student Conduct Officer can offer you suggestions for managing the situation if it does not appear to rise to the level of needing to remove the student from class.
How can I learn about the campus conduct process and what is expected of students?
The Student Code of Conduct outlines what is expected of students, as well as the process that the campus follows if it appears a student may have violated those standards of behavior. While faculty members develop specific guidelines for their classrooms, there are general behavioral guidelines that apply across disciplines and activities at Arizona Western College, and extend beyond the walls of the classroom.
By applying to Arizona Western College, all students agree through the online admissions process to uphold these standards; however, it is helpful if you can include a discussion about the Student Code of Conduct in your first class period so that students are reminded of what is expected of them.
How does the campus conduct process relate to the criminal process?
The campus conduct process may occur before, during, or after a criminal process for the same behavior. For example, a student may face campus conduct charges for assaulting another student on campus, and he/she may also face charges in court.
The campus conduct process has the goals of providing education to individual students while maintaining the campus standards for behavior, so the process and the outcomes are often very different than those of the criminal process, whose goal is justice. If you are a victim of a crime, you may choose to pursue both processes.
What types of financial aid are available?
The police or other 911 responders can respond to immediate emergencies. This includes:
- If you feel physically threatened due to a weapon, direct threat of physical violence, etc.
- If any person is in physical danger - this can include if someone passes out
- If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point he/she cannot care for oneself
- To report a crime
AWC Police can also provide escort service for you if you feel concerned for your safety when walking from/to your vehicle. They can also provide support if you are going to confront a student about his/her behavior and you have a reason to fear for your physical safety.
When and how do I report a concern to the College?
You can make a referral online any time of day. Reports are reviewed during regular College business hours. and it will be reviewed by the Student Conduct Office. If it pertains to a immediate concern, please contact AWC College Police.
When you submit the information, please be detailed and objective. Describe the incident with as many relevant details as you can. Avoid making judgments or assumptions about the student. Remember that the student may be able to read your complaint form. (You should go ahead and include witness information and your on-campus contact information. Any personal contact information and possibly witness names will be redacted from the report as appropriate.)
For more information about writing quality referrals, review the Tips for Documenting Incidents. You may wish to consult with your supervisor prior to filing a complaint, but be cautious of the time-sensitive nature of many of the situations.
What happens after I report a concern?
Threats of possible violence are routed to the Associate Dean of Campus Life and Student Conduct for her review and action. If it appears that a student may have violated a College policy, the student conduct process and/or a campus investigation can be initiated.
If so, the student is notified of the receipt of the complaint and is asked to meet with the Student Conduct Officer to discuss the incident. Most cases are resolved informally through this meeting, if the Student Conduct Officer and the accused student can reach agreement about what happened, and if the student is willing to accept responsibility and any appropriate sanctions.
In cases where the student chooses not to participate, or where agreement is not reached, the case will proceed to a formal hearing. You will be able to present your information in the hearing and the Conduct Officer will decide if there was a violation and if the student should receive any sanctions because of it. The student will be able to participate in this process, as he/she has a right to respond to the information in the conduct case.
Please be aware that the College does not tolerate retaliation of any form, and if you have any concerns for your physical safety you are encouraged to communicate those to the Student Conduct officer.
Will a student know if I referred him/her?
If it appears that a policy was violated and that a student conduct process is warranted, the student does have the right to know and respond to the information. He/she would be able to know your name as the referring party in most situations. The only exceptions would be in cases of significant personal violence (such as sexual or physical assault) where there is a legitimate fear of retaliation through physical violence. A person may or may not necessarily know that information was reported to the Student of Concern, depending on the circumstances.
Certainly if you are scared or feel threatened, you should refer the individual and request that your identity be kept as private as possible. Some information may be subject to FOIA, so there is a chance that the person could learn that you referred him/her to the Student of Concern Team.
What can I do if I don't feel threatened, but I am still concerned about a student?
It is helpful if you can talk with the student to see if he/she would benefit from a campus or community resource. Good questions to ask include, "Is there anyone on campus that you trust?" or "Are you connected with an advisor/counselor?"
If not, there are a variety of campus resources available, including:
- Accessibility Services
- Campus Life Office
Ideally, you can help connect a student to one of these resources by informing him/her about them or even walking him/her over to the office.
If you are unsure of how to best approach this, feel free to review Having Difficult Conversations or call one of these offices or Campus Life Office for assistance in how to approach having this conversation. Given that you are the one that likely has a relationship or rapport with the student, it helps the student feel their privacy is respected if you have the conversation with him/her but you can get support for how to approach it.
What if I feel "creeped out" by someone?
While there is no law or rule against being creepy or odd, you are also not expected to ignore your own feelings. It helps to pause and think about the behaviors that are evoking the reaction in you, not just the personality of the student. Depending on the situation, you can always report it to Student Conduct, Student of Concern, or the police.
Sometimes a person has already been referred and your information might help complete an understanding of the person's current state of mind. While there is not a hard rule about when to report "creepy" behaviors, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If it is a student in your class, it helps to have already built a relationship so that you can better understand the individual and assess if the behaviors are new/unusual, or if they are just part of someone's personality.
You are always welcome to call Student Conduct or contact Health & Wellness and consult with someone if you are not sure what to do.
Can I remove a student from my class?
If a student exhibits behavior beyond your scope of influence (brings a weapon, is incapacitated due to alcohol, attempts physical violence, etc), call the police and they may remove a student from class. If a student causes a significant disruption (i.e. yelling, throwing things) and does not respond to your requests to behave in accordance with the communicated standards, the common practice is to tell the student to leave for that specific class period, without academic penalty. You should plan to address the behavior prior to the next class, and you should consult with your division chair and/or Dean. A student cannot be removed permanently from your course unless through the process outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
What are common sanctions?
Sanctions vary from a warning to expulsion. More information is available in the Student Code of Conduct. The most common sanctions are typically warnings and educational conversations, where the student and the Student Conduct Officer discuss the incident and the student explores better ways to act in the future. Other sanctions include: visiting another campus office to learn about resources, probationary status, and suspension from the campus for a designated period of time. The goals of sanctions are to help the student learn and succeed, and also to uphold the standards of the AWC campus community.
What are common sanctions?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records. It does allow for sharing of information within AWC if there is a "legitimate educational interest." This means that if you need the information in order to complete part of your job responsibilities, you can have access to it.
For example, if you refer an academic dishonesty case to Student Conduct, you would need to know if the student is found responsible or not since the grade in the course might depend on it. However, if a student in your class has a conduct referral for alcohol use and it has nothing to do with your course; you would not need to know that information. If there is a legitimate threat, you would be informed of that as well, but you might not be informed if a student is being investigated or assessed.
How does the academic dishonesty process work?
Faculty members have the responsibility for the academic experience in the classroom. This means that it is up to the faculty member to communicate the academic standards - including violations of those standards, such as cheating, plagiarism, and inappropriate collaboration. The faculty member is also the one who determines if violations of the academic standards occurred. It is important to remember that the standard of proof used in determining whether a student engaged in misconduct is a "preponderance of the evidence" or "more likely than not". This means that if you are more than 50% sure that a student engaged in academic dishonesty, that can be your finding.
As you review the information, you are encouraged to consult with your academic department Chair and/or Dean. You are also welcome to contact the Student Conduct Officer with questions about the process. Read more about identifying and addressing academic dishonesty as well as how to prevent it.