Taking a bite out of cheating

This is just disturbing:

Nearly half the students in the Indiana University School of Dentistry’s second-year class have been disciplined for their roles in a cheating scandal in which students broke into password-protected files to view exam material before tests. […]

Cheating students took advantage of e-mails that professors sent a few days before tests, administrators said. Those messages contained password-protected images, such as X-rays, that were part of the exams Typically, on the day of a test, the professor would tell students the password so they could open the e-mail, look at the images and answer any relevant questions. But in a number of cases, some students determined the password in advance and shared that information with others, said Dr. Lawrence Goldblatt, dean of the dentistry school.

“Then they used the password to gain an unauthorized advantage over their classmates,” Goldblatt said.

Some of the students who illegally obtained the passwords did so by using commercial code-cracking software, he said. Others learned previous passwords and tried variations of those to gain access.

What do these dentistry students think they’re going to do once they are actually inside a person’s mouth and have no idea what to do next, because instead of learning the material they broke into their exam? And do you really want a dentist who got his/her credentials by cheating rather than by, you know, learning how to be a good dentist?

Also from the article are details of the punishments handed out:

The school’s Faculty Council voted Friday to dismiss nine of the students, suspend 16 for periods ranging from three to 24 months and issue letters of reprimand to 21 students for violating the school’s professional conduct code. The class has 95 students.

Hopefully they were all flunked out of the course in which they cheated as well.

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2 responses to “Taking a bite out of cheating

  1. I had an engineering instructor in college who was quite accomplished
    at not only making cheating difficult, but in making sure the students
    identified themselves unknowingly.

    Example: When using multiple choice tests, the tests were such that a lot of calculation had to be done, and all correctly, to even have a chance
    at knowing which answer to choose. Final answers might vary only
    in the 5th decimal place.
    For each page of the test, there were 4 or 5 versions, intermixed at
    random. Constants on each version were varied so if someone
    had a calculation that used a constant off of another version of the
    page, it was a “signed confession”, as he was fond of saying.
    The constants from other pages were sometimes correlated with answers
    which were incorrect on a given version of the page.
    All papers were kept in his own custody and came to and left the school in his locked briefcase, which stayed with him on test days.

    This was in the early 80s and cheating was common enough then, though
    not as common as now when the pressure is inordinately higher,
    the discipline and media “enhanced” morals inordinately lower.


  2. That’s IUPUI, and I don’t know if it works the same there, but at IUB, the Dean of Students office handles these situations once the department files charges. It’s one of the few times additional bureaucracy is a good thing, cause *you* don’t have to deal with it past the initial stage of catching them.