UCF begins marking cheaters on transcripts
Class grades will show ‘Z’ in addition to letter grade
Published: Sunday, February 26, 2012
Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 17:02
More than a year removed from a cheating scandal that involved 600 students and one professor, UCF has begun identifying undergraduate students who have been caught cheating, and students can be penalized by indicating academic dishonesty with a "Z Designation" on the student's official transcript.
Students caught cheating will have a Z added onto their regular class grade, and they can also be penalized with a failing grade, suspension or expulsion.
The reason for the implementation was to increase the quality and standards of degrees earned at UCF.
"Academic integrity continues to be the foundation of everything we do at UCF," Patricia MacKown, director of the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities, said. "Our goal is to reach all members of the UCF community with education and opportunities for discussion to further that goal."
Between the fall semesters of 2010 (the semester the scandal took place) and 2011, 812 students were caught violating the terms of academic integrity, MacKown said.
Following spring 2011, cheating numbers fell below 200 students per semester.
UCF has instituted a series of three modules that all incoming students are required to complete that educate students about academic integrity, MacKown said. A module is also given to incoming faculty.
Faculty members have been made more aware of cheating, and they discuss academic integrity during the first class meetings, especially in larger classes.
For example, in an introduction to computer science course, the first lab assignment for the class was to copy the academic dishonesty statement.
Yanni Shinkman, a junior business management major, said her professors require most papers to be submitted to turnitin.com. She also said that some professors consider working on assignments with other students to be cheating.
"I feel professors have gotten more cautious and become more aware of plagiarism and cheating," Shinkman said.
UCF has an online faculty center for teaching and learning that was updated in August with tips on how to prevent and deal with cheating and plagiarism.
It includes statements to include in syllabi and resources to help discourage and identify cheating from the Internet.
"We continue to work proactively to stress the importance of academic integrity to students and to take the steps necessary to stop any abuses from taking place," said Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, senior communications coordinator of UCF News & Information.
On Nov. 1, 2010, professor Richard Quinn discovered that about 200 students in his strategic management capstone course had cheated on the midterm exam. He then forced all 600 students in the class to retake the exam.
The cheating happened after a test bank that included the questions and answers to the exam was leaked to the class by an unknown source and was spread via email, according to Taylor Ellis, the associate dean of the UCF testing center in an earlier report by the Central Florida Future.
The controversy made national headlines and was met with much controversy and discussion on campus when students also took to YouTube to defend themselves.
Quinn and others from the business college could not be reached for comment about whether he has changed his own teaching strategies in order to curb cheating.
For more information about the Z Designation, including process and appeals, visit www.integrity.sdes.ucf.edu/zgrade.