I am teaching a small class in my university. This is my first time, and as I am still a PhD student and the university was missing a teacher, I ended being selected to present it.
It is a programming class. During my first coursework marking, I found one answer to be suspicious, coming from a student. I checked online and found the exact same answer on Stack Overflow. It doesn't mean anything by itself, as it is a rather simple and short answer, but other small details led me to believe the student may have copied it online (which from the university guidance given to them is not authorised).
I raised my concern to my course leader, who told me to look at the misconduct guidance. I contacted the contact in the Discipline Committee in my school, and they told me to file a report to the Student Conduct Office which will investigate the matter, as staff and teacher should not investigate themselves.
I had to contact the student to inform them, and I now feel very bad about this whole thing.
It is only one question on the coursework and there is no clear evidence, only suspicions. The student had mitigating circumstances for the last few years and just returned to university this semester. I'm afraid that if they didn't cheat, I will make them very stressed.
I am aware that I am "simply following the procedure", and that as a PhD student I feel like I have even less margin of action than a regular teacher. But I can't stop this feeling that I am not doing something correct.
How do you justify possibly wrongly reporting a student for cheating/plagiarising/etc and causing them more stress other than the simple ethic that cheating is not correct?
Alternatively, was it even the correct choice?