A swath of students at one of the nation’s most prominent universities stand accused of cheating.
At Stanford University – considered an unofficial Ivy League school on the West Coast – Provost John Etchemendy reports that “an unusually high number of troubling allegations of academic dishonesty [were] reported to our Office of Community Standards at the end of winter quarter.”
The winter quarter there began in early January and ended March 13.
“Among a smattering of concerns from a number of winter courses, one faculty member reported allegations that may involve as many as 20 percent of the students in one large introductory course,” Etchemendy stated in his memo, published Tuesday. “While OCS investigates the larger matter and students are being notified, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of our role in helping students understand the seriousness of academic dishonesty.”
Etchemendy warned technology may be at the root of some of the problems.
“At the beginning of our students’ Stanford careers, they are introduced to the Honor Code and agree to abide by it,” he stated. “But with the ease of technology and widespread sharing that is now part of a collaborative culture, students need to recognize and be reminded that it is dishonest to appropriate the work of others. …”
“I ask you to continue to reflect on ways to discuss the importance of academic integrity frankly and openly with our students. When collaboration in a class is encouraged, as I do in my classes, do we make certain that the parameters for collaboration are clear to the students? Do we provide guidance for the use of technology? And are students aware that we really will seek to identify and report concerns that may arise?”
It’s not unheard of for students at prominent universities to use technology to cheat.
Earlier this year, Dartmouth College charged 64 students with honor code violations following allegations of widespread cheating in a sports ethics class. In that case, the class reportedly used tech called “clickers” to engage students during class – and apparently to check for attendance – and students were pretending to be their absent peers. Last May at Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York that’s affiliated with Columbia University, students allegedly used their smartphones to pass answers back and forth.
It’s also not unheard of for students at prominent universities to cheat without using tech. Harvard University, for example, was hit with a massive cheating scandal in 2013. In that case, dozens of student athletes collaborated on a take-home exam.