Muschamp Rd

Cheating on the rise in college

May 18th, 2006
Sauder School of Business logo

CNET has an article about it today. Having just completed an MBA program I know there were several cheating scandals at the schools I attended. In some cases nothing was done when the students were reported by other students or even the faculty. Only in one notable case where a student went straight to the Dean with the evidence was much done.

In that class they used a competitive grading scheme so the team that came first got the most marks. Turns out the team that came first plagiarized their paper off the net…

The CNET piece documents some of the creative uses of technology to cheat. It also quotes a survey by a Rutgers university professor where 2/3rds of American university students admit to cheating. That is poor, you can see why no child gets left behind, they all cheat. I’m an advocate for stiffer punishment for those caught cheating as a deterrent and to equalize things up for the minority who apparently don’t cheat.

Many years ago my fellow creative writing students were aghast I would put my one act play online. They figured it would just get plagerized. It probably has been the question is how many times and did anyone get caught? I put it online so people could read it and maybe perform it. Maybe systems like TurnItIn.com, which we used only during the Core at Sauder, will help protect things like online writing samples.

One other thing that happened while I was at Sauder is the sharing of study notes. Some of my classmates were overly competitive. Unfortunately their competitiveness was often overshadowed by dishonesty. We were encouraged to form ‘reading groups’ by our professors and these were suppose to be bunker like units where notes were swapped internally to reduce workloads. Unfortunately these were far from isolated islands of acedemia. Many people seemed to spend their time on MSN trying to weasel notes and answers out of other people rather than doing the actual work.

Notably during our big Core final exam their was a disagreement between what Steve Keller, who had appointed himself accounting guru for our group, said and that of another group’s ‘accounting guru’. There was confusion, dismay, and I volunteered to redo all the accounting for the case to solve the issue. After I had it roughly finished I sent it to two students who were also good at accounting to look over and went for coffee. When I got back I received an email saying all my accounting problems were solved, attached to the email were my own notes. They had zoomed around our entire MBA class in an hour or so and weren’t even attributed to me.

After that I seriously questioned sharing anything with anyone. In the end I tried to laugh it off and starting putting sentences like Muskie McKay wrote this in the middle of paragraphs as people are too lazy to take them out. I stopped giving out my notes, but eventually I decided the best way to beat the system wasn’t to play the same game and I made my notes available to the entire class. I did this because if I gave them to one person I knew damn well they would be distributed much further afield.

Of course no good deed goes unpunished.


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