Tag Archives: cheat

Plagiarism and Feelings at Amherst

Carleen Basler, a professor at Amherst who said she struggled with her writing, resigned after she was caught plagiarizing and the Amherst Student did a good job covering the story. So far, so good. But Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit notices a few odd paragraphs in the paper’s report:

Since some believe that Basler did not ask for help because she didn’t feel that Amherst was a safe and understanding place, both faculty and students brought to the forefront the issue of creating a better environment in which people feel more comfortable coming forward with their academic problems.“I think the important part of it, I guess, is that I feel that there’s a lot that we can learn about how to support vulnerabilities and deficits,” Professor Karen Sánchez-Eppler said. “How do we as an institution make it a place where when people feel that they’re getting stuck — and I think that this is true for our students as well as our faculty — that when they’re feeling stuck, they can say ‘I’m stuck, help me,’ and not try to cover it up? That’s the kind of soul-searching that we as an institution need to do.”

Reynolds writes: “So, wait, academic fraud — apparently going all the way back to the dissertation — is somehow because the institution isn’t a “safe and understanding place?” With all the people looking for academic jobs, what could account for this attitude? Well, she teaches White Identity. Plus: ‘Coming from a Mexican-American background, she was particularly interested in the diversity of the student body.’ Imagine that she was a white male Republican, instead of a probable affirmative-action diversity-studies hire. Same response to plagiarism?

How Group Learning Invites Cheating

The most shocking thing about the Harvard cheating scandal was not that 125 students out of a class of 279 were found to have “committed acts of academic dishonesty” on an exam last spring, or even that the exam was for a course that was supposed to be an easy mark. It was that it happened at Harvard, the elite of the elite, where it is understood that only the smartest kids are accepted. Why would they have to cheat?

As the details became clear (at first, significantly enough, in the sports magazines), it developed that the course, Government 1310: Introduction to Congress, had the reputation of being a cinch to pass. But last spring the exam was harder.  It was a take-home open-book and open- Internet assignment over a weekend, but this time students were expected to write essay answers, not just select answers from multiple choices. And when the papers were graded, more than half were found to have given answers that were the same as another student’s, word for word.

When the facts became public, there was no joy in Cambridge. The stars of Harvard’s outstanding basketball team were among the large proportion of athletes taking the course. It remained unclear what punishment awaited the guilty as it could not be determined whether students had been collaborating on answers or plagiarizing outright from the Internet or each other.

Generosity Was the Excuse

One indignant Harvard student maintained that collaboration was “encouraged, expected.” That attitude also seemed to apply at Stuyvesant High School, New York City’s outstanding school, where a similar scandal was revealed. This time 140 students were involved, all receiving help from a classmate using his cell phone to send answers to his friends and those he wanted to become his friends.  The tests (the system was applied to several of them) were the prestigious Regents exams, important factors in college acceptances.  Ironically, the admitted aim of most Stuyvesant students, who face stiff competition getting into Stuyvesant and maintaining high grades once they get there, is to be admitted to Harvard.

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The Cheating and Fraud at Claremont McKenna

Claremont McKenna College, a private liberal arts school nestled in the foothills on the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles County,
dishonored itself and defrauded the public in a cheap effort to bolster its national rankings in U.S. News and World Report. But if that weren’t bad enough, Claremont’s deception calls into question the very worth of its students, faculty, and graduates.

Richard Vos, Claremont’s dean of admissions for 25 years, resigned in disgrace this week after admitting to systematically manipulating the college’s SAT scores since 2005. Vos evidently altered the mean, median, and range of SAT scores to boost the college’s position on the influential list of college rankings.

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