Thursday, August 20, 2009

I like this Grade - FD for Failure, Dishonest

In this article explaining the new policy, Simon Fraser University announced a new grade: FD, meaning "Failed for Academic Dishonesty" intended to curb the growing trend of plagiarism using the Internet. They've also created a central system for recording academic issues like these, which remind me of the infamous "permanent record" of years past. Multiple offenders face suspension and even degree revocation.

I'm going to think about this one. I still have a bit of time before school starts and I may add this to the syllabus in the section explaining the grading, grade codes, and relative percentages. Now that we're going to Internet grade reporting, this might be a real eye-opener. I'm just not sure for whom.

Here's the whole article, if you wish:

New FD grade a student’s record of shame
April 30, 2009 - By Stuart Colcleugh

Is there a grade worse than F? There is now at SFU: It’s called FD–failed for academic dishonesty–and it’s the last thing you would ever want on your transcript.

The new grade is one of several significant and extensive changes recently approved by senate and the board of governors to toughen the university’s policies on academic dishonesty and student misconduct. The changes are the result of a university-wide, three-year investigation by SCAISLE—the Senate Committee on Academic Integrity in Student Learning and Evaluation. SCAISLE was created in the fall of 2005 following the release of a report by a university task force on academic dishonesty and integrity issues, which was prompted by a series of incidents in different faculties involving academic dishonesty.

"The idea was to create a fair, consistent, and effective policy on academic integrity matters across the university that would be enthusiastically embraced by students, faculty and administrators alike and that mirrored a zero-tolerance approach both in theory and in practice," says SCAISLE chair Rob Gordon, who directs the School of Criminology. "And we believe the combination of policies, procedures and strategies we’ve come up with will do that."

"We now have a single student code of conduct that covers both academic integrity and good-conduct issues," says Gordon. "We also have a network of faculty-member academic integrity advisors across all academic units, and an academic integrity coordinator who is an assistant registrar. And we’ve created a reporting system with a central record keeping mechanism so we can better detect multiple offenders across campuses and departments.

"The FD grade will be available to department chairs who feel that a student’s behavior warrants a severe penalty, usually because they are repeat violators, A chair may also request the imposition of more severe penalties through the University Board on Student Discipline such as suspension and the rescinding of a degree."


  1. I like it too. I find cheating particularly reprehensible, and I think it's tolerated all too much.

  2. The only problem I can see with this is if someone is incorrectly accused of having cheated.

    My husband once was accused of it in a college class, until the prof figured out that another student had cheated off of his test.

    When I was in 6th grade, my teacher threw away a drawing I had done for an art assignment, saying I had cheated because it was too well done. She assumed an adult had done it for me. It really infuriated me (but it also was complimentary, in a twisted sort of way)! However, I would have been wronged had she been able to make that notation on my gradebook.

  3. I disagree. That 6th grade teacher could have given you an F anyway. She felt you cheated. Her F was an FD. The only thing was that your parents didn't know what that F meant. Had they known, they might have come to your support.

    Having FD in the gradebook means that the grade is failure because of dishonesty, not "I'm springing this on you without a chance of appeal or change, tough noogies." Any teacher that tries to pull that off in this climate is nuts.

    I like that this F is specific, that it tells guidance, parents exactly what's going on. It's not an F due to lack of knowledge or studying or caring or "I gave up because I broke up with my girlfriend."

    I will usually let students retake certain tests - if the material is particularly crucial for the next section, for instance. In the case of an FD, I'd know that grade was set.

    Remember, I'd also have a photocopy of the tests in question. I occasionally have testing situations where there are two versions of the test, A and B. If a kid has all the same answers as his neighbor, you might think "They think similarly" until you realize that he didn't answer his questions, he answered the ones on the B test.

    This is a perfect situation for the FD. I can tell immediately who copied from whom and there's no real question about it.

    Test A - Solve for the variable

    1. A + 4 = 10
    2. 4 - Y = 17
    3. 29 - F = 30

    Test B - Solve for the variable

    1. F + 4 = 10
    2. 4 - A = 17
    3. 29 - Y = 30

    If a test B kid answers

    You know he cheated.

  4. I like the two-test idea, and I do agree that students should be strictly dealt with when they cheat. An FD would be a strong disincentive for people with a conscience or who stand to lose something substantial (college admission and scholarships). There are some students who would not be fazed by it.

    As long as you are dealing with a reasonable teacher and there is an appeals option, using an FD is fine. But there are some teachers who are "nuts" and who are intractable.

    In the case of my 6th-grade teacher, I told my parents and they were "supportive" in the sense that they believed me. However, they also left me to deal with it myself and did not contact the teacher. So the "F" on my grade book stayed put. It bothered me, but not enough to push it. If it had been an "FD", I would have gone to the mat over it, since that would have impugned my character and affected how other teachers might view me. But as an elementary student I would have had a hard time contesting an adult authority.