Friday, November 12, 2010

A Cheating Scandal

Back when I was a writing prof, cheating (especially plagiarism) was occasionally an unfortunate concern for me. So when the "students busted for cheating" news came out yesterday (Nov 11), I was interested enough to post the article on my Facebook. The response comments from some of my FB friends are definitely worth sharing! And I do so here.

You might want to read the article first, in case you haven't already:

Students Busted for Cheating
A Florida professor has busted 1/3 of his 600 business school students for cheating on a big exam. He calls it "a knife to the heart" and is cracking down on the cheaters with a very stern ultimatum. Watch the video here on Y! News:

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/widespread-cheating-scandal-prompts-florida-professor-issues-ultimatum/story?id=11737137

Facebook Comments

Millie Nelson Samuelson:
BRAVO, Prof! Sickening to hear one student say: what's the big deal, everyone cheats, it's life.

Huldah Burklund Brown, Gerald Robert Burns and Melinda Vallem like this.

Marty Davis:
So totally out of our world as students, isn't it? What's an education for?

Todd Temeyer:
hmmm, konstantin ravin says everyone cheats, where is he from, and what religion is he

Melinda Vallem:
The comments from the second student were really horrific. I weep for the younger generation....

Gwen Andersen:
I think Konstatin Ravin is going to have to start his own business; I wouldn't hire him for fear of him cheating me on hours worked, or that the work was actually his own.

Suzanne Wolcott Shugart:
Couple of thoughts: If students are daily exposed to news of the previous two generations' success based upon and plagued by financial misconduct, extramarital affairs, market (local and global) manipulations, misuse of power and outright dishonesty, what example are they being given of the virtues of honesty and how exactly are they supposed to rise above that, given that the (mostly) men who perpetrate these activites are wealthy and, by all American standards, relatively successful?
Secondly, can intellectual property be equally compared with physical property in its use and value? I would point out that, under American conceptions of intellectual "property" not one of the classics of Western (or Eastern) literature, music or even technology would exist (Chaucer would have had his knickers sued off).
Finally, what systemic issues are leading students to believe that cheating is the best (or only) way to achieve a goal? In a nutshell -- throw the blame all you want on the students, but there's a heck of a lot more going on here.

Todd Temeyer:
wow, can i say freak, time to join the real world

Millie Nelson Samuelson:
Some GREAT comments here, friends! Almost like a debate with Aristotle and Plato. . . almost! And Suzanne (still Susie in my mind), go ahead and finish your profound essay and submit it to Newsweek's "My Turn" (rumored to pay about $5000, but it could be less or maybe even more).

Gwen Andersen:
I am certain cheating was spelled out in every syllabus those students received and that the college has a written policy as well. And since when has "but everybody does it" EVER been a defense against wrong behavior? The prof would have been well within his rights to expel all 200 students from his class with an F for a grade, yet all he is demanding is everyone takes the exam over and the 200 caught digitally cheating must take an ethics seminar. They got off easy!

Millie Nelson Samuelson:
Like I said earlier, lots of great comments here, but so far, my loudest AMEN is to Gwen's above. I remember early in my college teaching career deciding my policy for students was that THEY had to prove to me they were not cheating if I suspected them (NOT I had to prove they were cheating, altho' that usually wasn't difficult). I never had one student challenge my decision in nearly 30 years. . . hmm. I hope I didn't miss too many cheaters, and that some tho't about ethics a bit more than they had.

Suzanne Wolcott Shugart:
Millie -- you can still call me Suzee -- everyone does. My point is not to defend cheating, per se, but to suggest that there are underlying constructs, based significantly on individualistic, enlightenment assumptions (with a capitalist, for profit ethic informing it all).
I try to encourage my students to think of their work as a form of indebtedness and to humbly acknowledge those who have helped them (in the form of proper citations and acknowledgments). I also encourage, as often as possible, collaborative work in order to remove an adversarial, competitive sense from the classroom. I want them to learn to help each other and look out for each other!
The fact is that not one of us is solely and individually responsible for any of our work and if we believe that we are, we are deceived. We are all heavily in debt for the ideas and information that we have. From philosophy to practicality, I say this: I understand cheating, not as justifiable, but as symptomatic and try to address it with my students as such.

Millie Nelson Samuelson:
Suzee (thanks for the spelling reminder), you've got some more great "stuff" here (above) for your Newsweek "My View" -- you need to submit it ASAP while this incident is still in the news. . . GO FOR IT!
PS: I used to tell my students that they had to unlearn what they'd learned in elementary and junior high school -- that copying reports from other sources was NOT the adult way to an A. It maybe once served a learning purpose, but that time was over.

Gwen Andersen:
Out of all the kind things done for me at Central, Don Scott kicking me out of school for cheating on my lifestyle contract was the kindest, and I am not being sarcastic. It took me years to be grateful for being held accountable. Central was the first place in my life where "no" meant "no" and not "do an end run around the rules and it's only wrong if I get caught."
I do get what SWS is saying about cheating as a symptom of deeper social problem, but the right answer is not to lower the standards as it keeps happening. I can only guess the prof doesn't have tenure and didn't want to go job hunting as angry parents tried to punish the "cop" instead of the offenders.

Millie Nelson Samuelson:
To everyone who commented on this cheating scandal posting, THANKS HEAPS for your meaningful insights! I've been wondering what my monthly blog for Hoosier Ink would be (usually I pre-post by a week or so, but not this week). I was even considering passing this month (an option). But as I read your comments, I suddenly tho't I'd like to post them for my blog (with your names attached, of course). If you object, please let me know. And THANKS for helping me out of a deadline I tho't I might miss.

Now it's your turn, Hoosier Ink readers. Any comments about cheating you'd like to add to this discussion? I'm sure the engaged Facebook writers above will read what you share with great interest, and maybe even respond with more comments. . .

Here's to a more honest America,
Millie Samuelson
www.milliesbooks.org

7 comments:

  1. Gerald Robert BurnsNovember 12, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    Unfortunately, the old adage 'winners never cheat and cheaters never win' appears to be demonstrated a false premise everyday on TV and at home.... whether it be in sports, marriage, or politics. So, it is no wonder that students, at all levels, may choose to take the path of least resistance when it comes to achieving a goal. Fortunately, there is another old adage that still applies, 'the chickens come home to roost'.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember debating fiercely in high school social studies class 37 years ago that cheating/stealing hurt everybody including the cheater. The arguments hold true. Companies have to mark up prices to offset costs created by inferior or lost products and work. They have to install protective measures and damage management including lawsuits. While this is a societal problem, society is made up of individuals. Where is integrity-doing what's right because it is right even when no one is looking? A change starts in our own hearts, in how we train our own children, the standard we uphold for ourselves and those around us. Integrity can't be mandated (although law is good) it must be actively chosen by indiviuals.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm happy and surprised that the prof. was not fired, or the school sued by the parents of the cheating student. It seems like more and more often, those who stand up for absolutes like honesty are punished rather than applauded. I admire this prof for his courage!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Next time I need a surgeon, or a bookkeeper, or a lawyer, a local policeman, or any professional, I'll have to hope that he really graduated from his school by learning what he was supposed to learn, not by bluffing through with stolen grades.

    With fiction writing, it's harder to cheat. Either you've learned how to develop plot and character, or you haven't.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When my brother-in-law Jay was in college and told a prof everyone in class was cheating, the prof shrugged his shoulders and told him if he had a solution, go for it. So Jay stood in front of the class and said, "I hate cheaters. If I see anyone cheating, I'm turning him in. Will anyone stand with me in this?" At first only one person got up, then a few more, until finally everyone was standing (like, who wanted to identify himself as a cheater? LOL).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks heaps to all commenters above, including the four newest ones! This array of insights should give all of us something to ponder -- AND write about. . . :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gwen Andersen FB messaged this additional comment to me:
    "I had to laugh as I was skimming the news on http://www.facebook.com/l/79c97V6zxkDdIsLLBtj7TyWJ_iQ;Yahoo.com. Last night on the apprentice, Trump fired a contestant for cheating on last week's challenge. The man denied what he had done until Trump confronted him with proof, then he gave a lame excuse. I guess lying is implied in cheating, along with theft usually. If a win is gained by cheating, I define it as stolen from the people who compete honestly.

    ReplyDelete