Cheaters CAUGHT!

“I don’t want to be the one to explain to your parents why you aren’t going to graduate.”

We’ve talked about cheating before. What would you do, if you caught your students cheating? That is a difficult question to answer, and one professor in Florida tackled the issue head-on in his class. Thank you, Deb, for sharing this controversial story with us! Be warned — watching the video may trigger flashbacks and make you feel guilty all over again for cheating on that chemistry test in the 9th grade (or maybe that was just me)!

Perhaps you’ve heard about the recent large-scale cheating incident at the University of Central Florida – it’s caused quite a stir in “all things academe.” UCF Professor Richard Quinn was suspicious of the unusually high grades he received on a mid-term exam in his senior-level business management capstone course, so he ran a statistical analysis of student grades…

The analysis showed a grade-and-a-half increase over the same exam from the previous semester. His suspicions of student cheating were confirmed when a student anonymously deposited the complete publisher’s test bank and answer key for the mid-term exam in his mailbox. Apparently a handful of students had purchased the test bank and answer key from the Internet and e-mailed it to other students, many of whom claimed they thought they were receiving a study guide and not a copy of the actual test. By the way, it’s quite easy for students to get a hold of publishers’ test banks and answer keys– check out Alibaba.com.

Back to the story – rather than fail the offending students, Professor Quinn required all 600 students to retake the mid-term – a newly written mid-term not based on the publisher’s test bank. Those who cheated, the vast majority of whom had been identified, had a choice: they could remain quiet and hope they wouldn’t be discovered, or they could admit to cheating and attend a four-hour ethics seminar.  Over 200 students have admitted to cheating on the mid-term exam. You can watch the professor’s 14-minute lecture to his students about this incident here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/weirdnewsvideo/8140456/200-students-admit-cheating-after-professors-online-rant.html.

Every story has multiple perspectives, and this is no exception. Professor Quinn stated early in the semester that he wrote course exam questions, implying that he did not rely on the publisher’s test bank. In a YouTube response to this incident students stated they “didn’t know that studying an available resource from a publisher was cheating.” Setting aside the students’ sense of entitlement, is the students’ perspective valid if they believed the professor did not use the test bank?

What does this have to do with us at Macomb? At the very least, the UCF incident should provoke a discussion on how we use publishers’ test banks. Is it wise to use exam questions from publishers’ test banks without modifying them? How accurate and challenging are the items in your publishers’ test banks?

So the questions we want to ask are these: (1) How would you have handled this situation? (2) Should faculty ever use publishers’ test bank items and if so, under what circumstances in and in what condition? (3) If test banks should not be used, what are some reasonable alternatives?

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