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Working as a TA/GA

Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs) play an important role in promoting Academic Integrity at Ryerson University. Whether TA/GAs are leading seminars, marking assignments, evaluating group-work or invigilating exams; they contribute to upholding the standards of excellence expected in our community and by Policy 60: Academic Integrity. Therefore, assistants are expected to know how plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct are defined, recognize when these occur, and follow the appropriate procedures when academic misconduct is suspected.

As a Ryerson TA/GA, student or faculty you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with Ryerson Senate Policy 60: Academic Integrity. This policy was revised, effective September 1, 2015, and there are new guidelines for graduate students.

Preventing Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct prevention is the one of the central values of the Academic Integrity policy.  Here are some hints and places to go for prevention ideas.  Please also check out “Dealing with Academic Misconduct” for more strategies.

Be Clear About Academic Integrity Expectations

The best approach is to be up-front and clear about Academic Integrity expectations right from the start. Talk to your supervisor and decide how you are going to handle issues before they arise.

Use the Academic Integrity Website

Ryerson’s Academic Integrity Office has developed an Academic Integrity website for faculty/instructors/GAs/TAs and students, which contains valuable information along with tutorials and quizzes to assist in understanding the various types of misconduct, how to avoid misconduct and provides many useful resources. For more information see ryerson.ca/academicintegrity.

Access Available Services

There are excellent support services on campus for GAs/TAs, for example:

  • Student Learning Support (SLS) - comprehensive services, workshops, and online resources specifically geared to academic skill-building (e.g. Writing Support, Math Support, etc.).
  • Ryerson University Library and Archives (RULA) - the librarians and the RULA website are  great resources for research, citation and ‘how to’ videos.
  • The Learning and Teaching Office (LTO) - workshops and resources to assist in developing your teaching practice.
  • Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC) - promotes emotional and social well-being, academic success and career development for Ryerson students.
Questions or Concerns

Ryerson has established an Academic Integrity Office (AIO). The AIO exists to ensure that Policy 60: Academic Integrity and the accompanying procedures are carried out in a fair and transparent way, and to provide educational resources to the Ryerson community regarding academic integrity and misconduct. The AIO provides guidance and support to students and decision makers, and ensures that all parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities. The AIO is neutral with respect to all cases and is neither an advocate for students or faculty nor a decision-maker in the process. For more information, contact the Academic Integrity Office.

Detecting Academic Misconduct

According to Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 2,  

Any behaviour that undermines the University’s ability to evaluate fairly students’ academic achievements, or any behaviour that a student knew, or reasonably ought to have known, could gain them or others unearned academic advantage or benefit, counts as academic misconduct.

Types of Academic Misconduct

For more information, see Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 2.

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Misrepresentation of Personal Identity or Performance
  • Submission of False Information
  • Damaging, Tampering, Interfering with the Scholarly Environment
  • Contributing to Academic Misconduct
  • Unauthorized Use of Intellectual Property
  • Misconduct in Re-graded/Re-submitted Work
  • Violations of Specific Departmental or Course Requirements

Note: Please see Applicability to Research-Related Activities (see Ryerson Senate Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 2.7)

 

Possible Penalties and Consequences For Academic Misconduct

These are just a few examples, for more information, see Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5.

  • The minimum penalty for undergraduate or continuing education students is a grade reduction, including a “zero” (0) on the work. [The minimum penalty, on its own, cannot be appealed. However, a finding of academic misconduct regardless of whether the minimum penalty is assigned, can be appealed.]
  • The minimum penalty for misconduct for a graduate student is a grade of “zero” (0) on the work.
  • A grade of “F” in a course may be assigned by the decision maker.
  • Students may be required to participate in the Fundamentals of Academic Integrity Quiz and assigned up to three SLS/RULA workshops.
  • In undergraduate courses, Disciplinary Suspension (DS) may be recommended by the instructor, or may be assigned by the Academic Integrity Council (AIC) or Senate Appeals Committee (SAC). Graduate students cannot be assigned a DS.
  • In undergraduate or graduate programs, Disciplinary Withdrawal (DW) may be recommended by the original decision maker, and/or the AIC, but can only be assigned by the SAC.
  • The SAC may Expel a student from the University.
  • A degree, diploma or certificate may be revoked in some circumstances.

Reporting Misconduct

You have responsibilities as a GA/TA if you suspect academic misconduct or witness it during a test or exam.

Suspicions of Academic Misconduct

Report all suspected instances of academic misconduct to the course instructor as soon as possible. The course instructor will then follow the appropriate procedure. If you are interested in the process that will be followed, please see the Academic Misconduct Assessment Flowchart.

Examinations and Tests

Policy 60: Academic Integrity refers to specific misconduct categories that may bring students under suspicion before, during and after an examination or test.

Ryerson Senate Policy 135: Examination Policy is the general policy on issues related to the examination process, student conduct and invigilation responsibilities.

Ryerson Senate Policy 61: Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct is the policy that addresses non-academic misconduct, its consequences and remedies.

All students and invigilators need to be aware of what constitutes academic and non-academic misconduct and the consequences and/or penalties involved. If you have any questions, please contact the Academic Integrity Office.

For Graduate Students

Note: This is not a complete list of important information for Graduate students, for more information, please see Policy 60: Academic Integrity.

In graduate education it is essential that an environment exist where faculty and students have the utmost regard for academic integrity. Graduate students often engage in research with a large degree of independence. Therefore, they are expected to and must pursue their academic and research activities in a manner that is consistent with the highest standards of ethical and scholarly practice (Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 1.7).

Academic Misconduct In Supervised Research Activities

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 2.7 provides:  

For purposes of this policy, “supervised research” is treated as a separate category to accord with the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research, and normally includes academic milestones such as Comprehensive Examinations, Major Research Papers, Research or Thesis Proposals, Theses, and Dissertations, as well as the research and associated writing carried out towards any of these at either the undergraduate or graduate level. (See Section 3.4.2 regarding the process to be followed in addressing suspicions of misconduct in these areas.) Suspicions of research misconduct that may have occurred under the auspices of Ryerson University, but are in no way directed towards academic advantage or benefit, are to be addressed under Policy 118 (Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity (SRC) Integrity) rather than Policy 60.

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 3.4.2.8 provides:

In all cases of suspected research misconduct, the Vice President Research and Innovation (VPRI) must be notified by the AIO. In the case of graduate student misconduct, the Dean of Yeates School of Graduate Studies (YSGS) must also be notified of the suspicion.

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 3.4.2.9 and Procedures Section 2.3.3.4 provides:

In the case of a student in receipt of tri-agency funding, the VPRI will assign an additional investigator, external (i.e. arms-length) to the university, who will also attend and participate in the Facilitated Discussion as an investigator and decision maker and will sign a confidentiality agreement registered with the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation (OVPRI).

Outcomes for Academic Misconduct (please see Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5 for complete list)

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5.2.2 provides:

“The minimum penalty for misconduct with respect to work submitted in a course by a graduate student is a grade of “zero” (0) on the work”.

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5.3.1 provides:

“Graduate students cannot be assigned a DS”.

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5.1.2 provides:

If a graduate student receives a Disciplinary Notation (DN), the DN will normally remain on their record.

Progressive Discipline

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 5.4.5 provides:

“a second finding of academic misconduct in coursework, or a single finding of academic misconduct in supervised graduate research, shall automatically require a penalty hearing regarding DW or, if recommended, Expulsion  (see Section 5.3)”.

Penalty Hearing

Policy 60: Academic Integrity, Section 6.2.2 provides:

“A penalty hearing of the AIC regarding a DW will be convened where a graduate student has, after all appeal(s) are resolved, been assigned a first DN on the basis of misconduct in supervised research activities (see Section 3.4.2), or a second DN related to academic misconduct in course-related work (see Section 3.4.1), or where a DW has been recommended regarding misconduct in their course-related work.”