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Friday, March 1
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: Who is responsible for cheating?

Stanford University has had an abnormally high number of academic dishonesty during its winter quarter.

Surprise! Yes, even the best students cheat. In fact, the best students are more likely to cheat. I learned this the hard way. See, back in high school, my social studies teacher taught both the honors class and the regular class.

As an experiment, he would give both classes the same quiz and allow the students to mark their own quizzes. Except there was a trick: after completing the quiz, we were asked to turn them in. Our teacher would then excuse himself to leave the class and make photocopies of our original, unmarked quizzes.

We were then given back our own quizzes to grade and submit back to him.

With both the unmarked and marked versions of our quizzes in hand, he compared the two to see if we’d cheated by changing our answers. Those who cheated received an automatic zero. The people who were honest received the grade they gave themselves.

I was in the honors section. While I didn’t receive the automatic zero, I saw it happen to many of my peers. More people in our class cheated than the nonhonors students.

My teacher later revealed he had conducted this same experiment for nearly a decade, and the trend has remained consistent: a significantly higher number of honors students cheated — or, as he put it, “Honors students are more likely to cheat.”

Knowing this, it seems unsurprising that one faculty member at Stanford reported cheating allegations involving as much as 20 percent of the students in an ?introductory course.

While the school is still in the midst of contacting the suspected students, Provost John Etchemendy has taken a firm stance against academic dishonesty.

“In violating academic integrity, (students) are cheating themselves of the very core of our mission — the process of learning and discovery — as well as risking severe ?consequences,” he wrote.

He further stated that “with the ease of technology and widespread sharing that is now a part of a collaborative culture, students need to recognize and be reminded that it is dishonest to appropriate the work of others.”

I agree with Etchemendy’s view that in violating academic integrity, students are only cheating themselves.

College is meant for education. People pay tuition to learn. If, instead of learning, some students are choosing to take shortcuts and cheat, they are wasting chances to grow.

But at the same time, keep in mind it’s the best students who are often tempted to cheat. This probably speaks to how the college curricula’s emphasis on grades and grade-based merit is a source of the temptation to cheat.

Thus, while students themselves are responsible for their own academic conduct, it should also be an educational institution’s priority to endorse curricula and intellectual environments that do not raise incentives for academic misconduct.

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