Skip to main content

Talking to a Student Suspected of Cheating

Despite your efforts to promote integrity and prevent cheating, you will likely still have to respond to the occasional integrity violations. Although you do not have to speak with students before reporting them to the AI Office, you do have that option and you can even resolve the incident by doing so if you follow the appropriate procedures.

Following are some tips and procedures for talking with students about potential integrity violations.

Act as Promptly as Possible

Act on these situations as soon as possible despite any reservations. This means interrupting cheating if it is occuring during an exam (but in that case, allow the student to finish the exam and speak with them later) or notifying the student as soon as you are otherwise aware of a possible violation.

We know from the research that if students see cheating happening and do not see faculty responding, this can greatly increase their own likelihood of violating academic integrity.

Prepare for the Conversation

If you choose to meet with the student, it may be helpful to think of three C's in addressing academic misconduct with a suspected offender:

Clarity, Compassion, and Candor

  • Be clear about the behavior you find questionable.
  • Be compassionate to the student who may experience significant distress but also great learning from this incident.
  • Be candid about your interpretations of the behavior and your feelings about the incident.

If you simply want to talk to the student before you report them to the AI Office to get more information or to give them notice that they are being reported, follow the above guidelines and then document the conversation.

If you want to conduct an official Instructor-Student Resolution Meeting, prepare by reading through the Guide for Conducting Instructor-Student Resolution Meetings (PDF). Make sure you use the email template in that guide for notifying the student that you'd like to meet.

Hold the Meeting

  1. Begin the conversation with a statement that informs them of your concerns. For example, "I have some concerns about your recent [paper or exam], specifically it appears that you may have [copied from a neighbor; plagiarized; used GenAI; etc]"
  2. Then give the student an opportunity to share their point of view as a way to open up the conversation. For example: "Why don't we start by you telling me your process for studying/ completing the assignment".
  3. After listening to the student's answer, follow up with additional questions that make sense to you given the suspected violation and the assessment in question. 
  4. Tell the student what you're planning to do next. This could include:
    1. Considering his or her answers and thinking further about your next step (if you are undecided about the occurrence of a violation); OR
    2. Reporting the incident to the Academic Integrity Office

If you are holding an Instructor-Student Resolution meeting, follow the Guide (PDF), fill out the form (Word file) after the conversation and send to the student if they indicated they would accept responsibility.

Remain Steadfast

Student reactions may vary. Your student may cry, get angry, accuse or offend you, calmly admit to the misconduct, or deny the misconduct outright. In any event, proceed using your best judgment, knowing that it is your professional and ethical obligation to follow Senate Policy which states that you must report all suspected academic integrity violations to the Academic Integrity Office.
If you would like to consult with someone before conducting your meeting with the student, email