The Semester Has Officially Started….And Yet Another Cheating Scandal

In cheating, Education, institutional responsibilities, integrity, tests on September 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

What is it about learning that inspires cheating? If seems that if you make it to Harvard, you are one of the “smartest [people] in the room.” Picture from movie: Smartestguysintheroom Yet the latest from Harvard is about a number of students who cheated on a take home exam. And according to MIT behavioral economist Dr. Ariely’s blog, there were LOTS of students who (allegedly) cheated–125!! Students claim that they thought collaboration was allowed (although the exam instructions said something different) because they collaborated for other things during class, they skipped lectures and shared notes and because the student guidebook, the Q Guide,  said students in the past had collaborated with the teaching fellows (of course, that’s probably why the instructor included the statement NOT to collaborate!). (Source of this student perspective: Harvard Students Fighting Allegations of Cheating on Exam).  And these are students that educators claim are the brightest and best–that’s how they merited entry into Harvard.

How can educational institutions encourage learning without promoting cheating? I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the “smartest people in the room” remained there and graduated by cheating. Maybe we need to figure out  different ways to measure intelligence.


  1. When I first started back to school, I was a nursing major, with a GPA of 3.78–told that my GPA wasn’t good enough. Found many pre-nursing students writing exam answers on their shoes just to keep up their 4.0 GPA. Wasn’t worth my personal integrity and my well-earned 3.78 to start cheating. It bothers me that these future health professionals acted out of stupidity and desperation just to get into a program, and now plausibly will be taking care of friends and family members when they go to the clinic or hospital!

    • Absolutely! It’s frightening. And with son in the Nursing Program, the push is to pass the nursing test (and if they don’t, they can’t practice). The focus is so much on passing the test that some students (and some teachers) lose sight of the fact that there are people to be served (effectively) at the completion of the program.

      Thanks for your comment!

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