The expectation is that you will always be bringing in citations to support your discussion posts and assignments, especially as you contextualize your coursework in your current workplace and connect the two. If you do not use sources at all to clarify those connections, you will likely lose points on assignments. The expectation is also that, unless your instructor specifies otherwise, you will do your own work.
Plagiarism and Other Academically Dishonest Behavior
If you plagiarize material—appropriate another’s work as your own without citing the source—or engage in any other behavior that is academically dishonest, you will likely fail the assignment, and your conduct will be reported to the MBA directors. Because UW-Eau Claire is the managing partner for the UW MBA Consortium, a record of the incident will also be on file with the dean of students at UW-Eau Claire. Many instructors do not differentiate between academic misconduct that is intentional versus that which is unintentional (e.g., forgetting to insert a citation, not realizing you couldn’t work together on an assignment); but the consequences for academically dishonest behavior are the same whether the behavior is intentional or not: potential failure on an assignment, low course grade, and suspension or expulsion from the MBA program. If you have not already done so, please read the information page on academic integrity to know what types of behaviors are considered academically dishonest.
The UW MBA Consortium expects the highest degree of academic integrity from students, and you should expect it from yourself and from one another, too. It’s one of the hallmarks of your “why.” If you’ve not done so already, take time to read the UW MBA Consortium Code of Conduct for additional detail.
Doing the Ethical Thing
Even the most honest and ethical among us, whether at work or at school, find ourselves challenged daily to make good decisions about who we are and who we want to be. We would all likely agree that cheating is wrong and that cheating is not a hallmark of an ethical person.
And yet, as behavioral economist Dan Ariely has discovered, whether people cheat or not depends little on whether they believe themselves to be ethical people. Ariely’s research has uncovered that cheating is not something that only a few people do a lot of; it’s something a lot of people do on a small scale. Most people, he argues, have a “fudge factor” when it comes to cheating. For example, they might steal a pen from work but not 10 cents from a petty-cash fund. And the biggest driver of whether people believe cheating is appropriate in a particular context is not necessarily their own moral or ethical code; it’s the behavior of their in-group—the people around them. If others in their circle are cheating, people will believe the behavior is ok, too; but if people are reminded of their ethical and moral codes, they are likely to cheat less.
So what does Ariely’s research mean for us in the MBA program? It means that as a group we have to stick together. We have to send the message to one another that we have a moral imperative to hold one another to the highest ethical standards, and when we see people struggling, we have to encourage them to succeed in the right ways and help them appropriately. I invite you to watch Ariely’s TED talk, Our Buggy Moral Code for more. It’s 16 minutes long, it’s interesting, and it’s highly worth your time.
Advice for When You’re Struggling
Students engage in academic misconduct for many reasons. Maybe they are stressed out. Maybe they have too much going on at work or home and do not have the time to put in the effort. Or maybe they don’t understand the material. Or maybe they just don’t want to do the work. And sometimes they don’t understand what academic integrity means. Whatever the reason, if you wonder whether you are doing the right thing, you can ask your instructor for advice. If you are stressed out, running out of time, or struggling with the course material, again, ask the instructor for help. Your instructors want to help. You can also schedule a time to meet with your MBA program advisor to talk about your challenges and find some ways to move forward with your integrity intact. And remind yourself of who you want to be—your “why.” You do not need to struggle. We are here to help you.