Dartmouth Cheating Debacle: 3 Initial Observations

4 replies
  1. GalleryP
    GalleryP says:

    Interesting post and analysis. As I’m sure you are aware, online cheating is rampant and accelerated during the pandemic. The alleged Dartmouth example, however, is an outlier to the general problem which the media mostly chooses to ignore. That the Boston Globe and New York Times focus on an ambivalent case at Dartmouth says more about those publications than it says about the issue.

  2. Michael Ball
    Michael Ball says:

    I personally hate when we describe cheating as ‘rampant’ without data. Students do hear this and feel it’s their only way to stay afloat in courses. Frankly, it’s a pretty wrong view, but I can’t say I don’t see their points. Cheating and misconduct are easier to commit and easier to catch in an online world. So, I believe we need to have some sort of measures that uphold the integrity of exams.

    At the same time, we’re too late (and too time constrained, and too underfunded) to begin redesigning all of our courses. I can’t speak for Med School exams, but on the computer science side, many of our exams–while still being pretty useful instruments–are still require a specific set of skills, a decent amount are orthogonal to the course material. I’ve been reluctantly glad that I’ve had to rethink parts of exams, but still not yet at the point where I am in a place to forgo all proctoring.

    That said, using stuff like the Canvas Quiz data isn’t too worrying to me. At least a human is reviewing it. A “Similarity Score” which is color coded, and can lead to blind acceptance, is to me a much bigger concern. Now clickstream data is highly imperfect, but so are most sources, and so it’s up to the people reviewing that data to have compassion and understanding. I’ve dealt with my fair share cases in (fairly short so far) career. I’m looking for reasons to give students the benefit of the doubt or reasons where it’s completely incontrovertible that someone cheated.

    Also, I think we need some kind of a new word. I deal with intro students, so most of them cheat out of desperation not because they’re “bad”. They made a mistake, and there ought to be some consequence, but we also need not ruin their educational careers, or actual careers too.

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