Reflection on my Decision-Making Process
This fall semester was my very first semester as a masters student in the university. Being the first semester international student, it was probably the most difficult semester for me as I had to cope up with different education system and a different lifestyle which also included a peer pressure to excel in studies. I got so caught up in coping, adjusting and adapting to all the changing variables around that it wasnt until very late that I realised that my core individuality has been left vulnerable and compromised.
I lost sight of what I consider important as a human being.
I was caught cheating during my final exam of artificial Intelligence I in which I had carried previous semesters question papers solutions. Back in my home country we develop a habit of using question papers for reference and for better preparation of exams. Continuing the same habit and mode of study as a means of comfort and assurity, I ended up finding previous semester question papers online.
It was an open exam and so I carried those notes to exam as well for reference and did not really think of it as an academic dishonesty. I completely understand that there are no excuses to cheating and I strongly believe that I should have been more careful, and I take responsibility for all my actions.
At that moment, I did not think about the consequences of my actions not because I didnt care, but, solely because my actions were not coming from a place of dishonesty or intentional wrong doing. However, after being caught by my Professor and after going through the University Honor Code I do realize that cheating is a dishonest act which I am not willing to choose ever in the future. I aspire to maintain integrity in all my actions and not do something so terrible in future.
Going on Disciplinary Probation and getting a grade of zero for that final exam therefore affecting the overall GPA of that subject were two consequences of the choice which I made, but apart from this the major consequence of my action is moral bankruptcy and damage of my reputation which I am facing in front of my Professor and parents.
While the impacts of the incident remain still fresh in my mind, in retrospect, this incident proved to be the much-needed push that I needed to realise that at my core, if I am being true to the ethics and morality I have acquired throughout my life, it is a clear conscience that is most valuable to me. I would not trade my honesty for any undeserved reward.
Firstly, I would be very careful and take responsibility of all my actions. Even though all the University policies were available for all the students, I did not pay attention and carelessly accessed previous semesters question papers. An important lesson to be learnt is that cheating always results in losing self-respect, others trust and punishments. Being an honest person is more important and gracious in the long run.
Impacts of the choice made
I have learned a lot about the importance of integrity following this situation. I feel it has tainted my reputation as an individual. Even though this choice was solely mine, apart from having affected me emotionally, mentally and academically, it has also affected those around me and close to me. This has made the guilt amplify. I am ashamed of myself and feeling guilty because I feel I have disrespected my professor and his honest efforts to teach efficiently. My peers and acquaintance who came to know about this experience of mine have known the results of this action and are also determined to never do something so terrible like this. Me and my peers have decided to strive to be successful and thorough in our endeavors, without taking shortcuts.
Lesson learned from Student Conduct Process
I completely agree that cheating or any form of academic dishonesty is unacceptable, and every student is expected to comprehend and demonstrate what academic honesty consists of. The student conduct process has really helped me develop a deeper understanding of academic integrity. The process has enlightened me that every course is different and cheating cases might lead to bad consequences. I agree to the fact that before this incident the definition of academic integrity was undeveloped and unexplored for me, but with the help of Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory (VAIL) I have been able to dig deeper into myself to understand the complexities and grey areas of morality and honesty, which were otherwise a surface-level concept. Moreover, writing down a reflection paper offered me the opportunity to consider this experience and shape my thinking and the acceptance of new understanding of academic integrity.
Future choices if came across same scenario
I believe if I ever come across same scenario in the future, I would really like to make a different choice than the one which I made in this case. Getting zero credit in the exam was shameful because the grade will taint my transcript and my records in the institution. I would therefore uphold my sense of morals and high ethical standards as I have realized how important ethics matter on a professional and academic level. I would advocate for high integrity in examinations following the consequences I faced. Falling for short cuts is never going to help in the long run. In future, I would never try to access previous semesters question papers or any other resources online which are against the Universitys academic integrity policy. Moreover, I would ask my professor or the teaching assistant about any material I am skeptical about and if it could be carried to the examination hall or not. I would, therefore, familiarize myself with the examination codes of conduct of my institution to ensure that I do not fall prey to exam malpractice, I would also create enough time for my studies aside from my work and prepare well for my examinations.
Steps already taken to fix negative impact
First and the foremost thing which I did to fix any negative impact of this incident was that I went through all the Universitys academic integrity policy and comply with the standard guidelines as outlined so that I am fully aware about all the things that I am not allowed to do and hence no form of dishonesty is ever repeated by me intentionally or unintentionally in the future. I would, therefore, change my behavior and openly advocate for the integrity of the students in examinations.
Meaning of Integrity
Integrity for me can be defined solely with the help of two words morality and honesty. In our life we are responsible for every choice that we make. If we remain true to our conscience and not let it be corrupted by vices, every choice that we make will end up being the right one and we will be able to live a life where we can take pride on ourselves for our morality, honesty and thus, not regret the momentary weakness of character. A person who value integrity in their life become trustworthy, reliable and dependable. These people are respected and counted on as they will adhere to their principles irrespective of the fact that they are being watched or not.
My perception of integrity is that the current world would be a better place if people acted with integrity in everything they do. In our society there are many instances when we rely on trusting that we will all behave in accordance with a socially accepted behaviour fuelled through integrity.
One such instance is when there is a group project assigned to me. In this scenario, I will be relying on the integrity of my group partners. I would trust them with their part of the project being original and believe that dishonesty is not involved in completion of their project work.
Additionally, another instance where I can demonstrate that I rely on others integrity is integrity in leadership. For the welfare of the complete society, a leader with values like integrity, honesty, trust and morality would be looked upon who would consider what is best for the society disregarding his own personal interests as after all the leader plays a very vital role in building up a nation.
Moreover, at times of bad health conditions, one, as a patient will always rely on the integrity of the doctor. I believe every patient would like to believe that the chosen doctor does exhibits morality. Unfortunately, these days we come across so many stories where doctors go below the board for their own betterment rather than choosing their patients health.
As we expect integrity from people around us, we are also expected to maintain integrity in my behavior so that the society can become a better to coexist.
My Professor would always expect me to show academic integrity in my work which implies that I must adhere to a code or standard of values. I must not involve in any form of dishonesty which includes cheating, plagiarism and collusion. Any form of dishonesty will not only lead to my professor questioning my ethics and morals but also bad repercussions according to the Universitys academic integrity policies.
I am a part time employee on campus, and I am expected to show integrity by my employer. Employers will always tend to seek employees who will not only have relevant skills but also have moral values, ethics and personality traits that spell success. According to me integrity on roads is also an important aspect. I, as a driver or pedestrian must maintain some conduct and abide by the traffic laws. Any dishonesty towards the laws may lead to danger to innocent lives. Everyone on road trust each other to adhere to traffic rules and exhibit moral behaviour , even though they are all strangers. It is this basic humanity that maintains peace and hep us co- exist and co-function in any given scenario.
Steps taken to familiarize with expectations and policies regarding academic integrity at
To familiarize myself with the expectations and policies regarding academic integrity, I have held discussions with the Professor and the graduate advisor on the academic policies of the university. I have also thoroughly read and understood the policies from the University website for reference on matter and actions I was unsure about. In conclusion, I highly regret my actions and currently, I am one of the advocators of student integrity among my peers. I have promised myself never to cheat in exam again as it comes with dire consequences.