It echoes in my brain as I ponder the recent revelations about the Duke MBA students accused of cheating on a take-home exam.
Cheat cheat, never beat.
Clearly today's students don't agree with this refrain from my childhood. Especially in business schools. Consider this statistic from the study "Academic Dishonesty in Graduate Business Programs: Prevalence, Causes, & Proposed Action," (Academy of Management Learning & Education, September 2006):
56% of graduate business students admitted to cheating one or more times in the past academic year, compared to 47% of nonbusiness students. (reported in BusinessWeek; see also our September 20th post)
And the varied ways students are cheating boggles the mind. Or at least mine. I thought an iPod was a music and video player. Not so according to AP, which last month reported on high schools across the US banning digital music players because they were being used as high tech cheating devices.
The reasons given for why students cheat range from a general loosening of ethics, especially in the business world, where cheating is almost assumed, to fierce competition for the top colleges, graduate schools and jobs. "Everybody's doing it" appears to be the new refrain, and upholding the honor code an idea, not an expectation.
Educational institutions are doing their best to deal with the problem of rampant cheating on exams, but the most common solution is to ask the teacher or professor to take on the role of monitor as well as their principal job of instructor. To be both coach and cop.
There is a better alternative. Technology has created improved methods of cheating, but it can be used to prevent cheating as well.
For example, our Securexam product suite prevents students from cheating on exams -- blue book or within course management systems like Blackboard and WebCT. In fact, it is widely used in law schools in large part because the students want it. They want the level playing field that the assurance that no one can cheat provides.
And just as importantly, technology like Securexam lets the professor focus on his principal job -- teaching the students and assessing their performance, not performing a forensic investigation to determine whether or how students may have cheated.
We can wish, and hope, that students won't cheat, but wishing won't make it so. Isn't it simpler, and saner, to just eliminate the temptation, so students and teachers can refocus on learning?
More news and views on cheating:
- Texas A&M biz students disciplined for cheating
- Cheating on a different level, from Inside Higher Ed