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UCF Professor Richard Quinn accuses class of cheating (youtube.com)
23 points by cantbecool on Nov 20, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

I had this happen in one of my classes, when I was in school. The whole class was in shock and fear, as the professor asked what we thought she should do. I was the only one that spoke up and said, well if you truly have evidence you should not be presenting it to us you should be presenting it to the authorities and that the whole thing felt like a shake down. It was the only class I got a C in, but I kept my dignity I know confronting a professor like that was grade suicide but man we as people get bullied enough, I was not about to get shook down for a couple students stupidity if it took place at all. If I where in that course at UCF, I would be raising hell about having to retake the test.

If they are so 100% sure about the offenders, then why does everyone have to retake the exam, why is everyone being punished. Maybe he does not have the data he claims he does. Until they could prove that they do, I would be standing my ground on not retaking the test because I am innocent until proven guilty and if they did prove it they would prove why I as a non-cheater need not retake the test.

You were definitely bold to say such a thing to your professor. I probably would have stood right beside you and said the same thing. I'm currently have a problem in a Stat class. My TA is fresh of the boat, and my professor doesn't want to hear it. But anyway, grades are just another arbitrary number, like a credit score. They ultimately mean nothing in the long run. That's just me though.

I'd show up with the note signed by God just to aggravate him. The main reason why people get desperate and cheat is because they have to maintain a certain GPA for additional financial aid.

Grades are for college, but ethics are for life.

You can never be 100% sure about all the offenders. Even if you can identify all of them, the odds that you won't get any false positives are very slim, and the last thing most teachers want to do is ruin the lives of innocent students.

Your teacher was standing in front of you saying those things, probably because she really didn't know what to do. It's an incredibly difficult position to be in. Even the students that cheated for sure, you don't always want to turn them in. You think, 'maybe I can/should keep this small and avoid ruining their lives- don't people deserve second chances?' Have you ever been cheated on by a s/o? Do you know that feeling of undirectable anger, helplessness and rage with no clear outlet, and the confusion over what you should do next? That's about what it's like.

The teacher used statistical analysis - enough to prove that a lot of students did unrealistically well on this test, but not enough to prove that any one student cheated (after all, even a poor student can decide to start studying or get lucky with the questions.)

That's not how he presented it, he presented it that they have the info to identify each cheater. He said (I am paraphrasing), "The net is tightening and we will catch you". He dared them to try to get away with it. He was shaking them down. My point is, I would call him on it, if they do have the data then they can prove my (hypothetical me) innocence.

If they don't then he is shaking people down, which is not entirely fair. If they don't have the data then the innocent don't deserve to be shook down for a witch hunt. He should just tell the class, we know some of you cheated, we don't have the data to unwind who did and who did not, so it's a do over for all of you. To the ones that did not, I am sorry but you can thank your fellow classmate.

I would be pissed if they came clean and said they can't sort it out, but I would not blame the professor for the actions of others. As it sits, with the claims that they know who the cheater are, I would hold it against the administration for holding me as a non-cheater to account when they claim to have proof that exonerates me.

The worst thing is that now people who scored high on this test because they learned their asses off -- maybe because their grades have been rather meh so far -- could feel that confessing is the rational thing to do.

I love how this professor is acting like he is taking the high road, but in reality, he himself is a hypocrite. If he had so much 'forensic' evidence, why didn't he just take it to academic affairs?

I'm not condoning cheating in anyway, but it's not the students fault that he is creating his exams from a public publishers test bank, which anyone could purchase and distribute. In my opinion the professor is just lazy.

Because in reality he could have gotten to 99% but never to 100%. There was always the chance that a student genuinely aced the exam on his own accord but would get accused of cheating and expelled anyway. That would be disaster for the prof and the school if the kid turned around and sued them. So instead he opted for a typical prisoner's dilemma to weed out the cheaters. And notice the carrot for that, take an ethics course and all is forgiven. Not, you will fail this class but be thankful you're not expelled.

The cheaters(?) would be visible if they do significantly worse in the second test, compared to the first.

That's not entirely accurate. Any number of things can affect a grade on a test. Included in this list is: personal issues, slightly (but sufficiently) different content, ambiguous questions (remember, these new questions were made in 90-something hours).

Bimodal distribution exist when an external force has been applied to a data set.

Now for a what if. What if the students apply themselves and study, but the class ends up getting around the same distribution of scores?(Where the median is a 90.) The professors theory of cheating is thrown out the window.

I am amazed by the responses this article is getting. It's like the community here approves of the cheating for some reason.

I personally think it's neat to see the analysis he did. It's cool to see the way statistics can uncover things with clarity you wouldn't have expected (e.g. the bimodal distribution) The implications are heavy, but I am impressed by his results (the confessions, which are a positive thing).

I have been on the non-cheating side of this sort of thing, both as an instructor and as a student, so I know exactly how both the professor and the honest students are feeling. It's a heavy, heavy weight to deal with (you can hear his voice is just shy of cracking- that's real, I've BEEN THERE), and there are no good and no right answers, but it must be addressed.

How is using a test bank cheating?

Didn’t you use test exams or example exams to prepare for the real test? I know that as a widespread and morally perfectly acceptable preparation method.

Many text books have accompanying material for instructors, including, sometimes, exam questions. The publishers will absolutely not make it available to anyone except instructors.

This is from the MIT press website, for example:

"Instructors with access to the manual must agree not to share the manual’s password, to make any of the solutions publicly accessible, on the Web or otherwise, or to make any of their own solutions publicly available."

If a student has access to that material, someone violated that agreement, and the student is in possession of an illegal copy.

Ok, you are right, it is indeed cheating if students gained access to the test bank illegally.

I think getting questions from a third party exam bank to write your tests should be just as frowned upon as getting answers from the same bank to complete them. Am I being unrealistic to think that, if this guy's been teaching a course that hasn't changed over the last 5 years, he should be able to write a new midterm each semester?

Wait how the hell is that cheating? Shouldn't he be lesser predictable in the exams?

It isn't. He should win an Oscar for his performance.

This guy pissed me off enough to write this comment.

Classical fear tactics. By offering a level of "immunity" for those who come forward, he's creating fear for those who actually did cheat.

Look at what he's offering to those who come forward:

"Any permanent record of this will be wiped from your transcripts. There will be no further action taken."

Then he goes on to taking a reverse psychological approach by saying:

"You want to take a high risk gamble, take it! I challenge you to take it…."

What he essentially did was scare the students into believing that his statistical analysis would be enough to expel them from college.

Sure, matching previous student batch's midterm results vs. current batch of midterm grades gives an insight. If you further compared that with the students other grades of similar subjects, then it is statistically possible to say that there's an anomaly present.

As far as I know (maybe the rules has changed since I went to college), you can't get kicked out of school because the administrators believe that it is statistically possible that you cheated.

Looking at three diff threads on this story, people are assuming a bunch of things to be known that cannot be known from this video, such as:

* assuming the test bank is publicly accessible or is supposed to be (the instructor's statement that the publisher has been informed that the test bank is compromised implies it is intended to be private to instructors);

* assuming the test bank is accessible through teacher's versions of textbooks (it could be online via authentication);

* assuming the access by any student must have been illegitimate (the students could have easily thought it a study guide, and the source could have been someone other than a student--some instructors also can and do reuse questions and reward students for researching and studying them);

* assuming the access must have been legitimate;

* assuming the staff can prove particular students cheated (yeah.. we just don't know this, especially if we don't know how the test is structured or how the data analysis works);

* assuming the staff CAN'T prove particular students cheated (first, you can't assume something impossible just because you can't imagine how it could be possible; second, data analysis is shocking in what it can inform; third, the data analysis can be used just to indicate suspicious tests that the human instructor and TAs then review themselves; (and fourth, yes I did just nest semicolons and parens within other parens and semicolons));

* assuming the student who turned in the copy of the test bank was one of the cheaters or could even make use of it (it's possible they acquired it afterwards and turned it in out of spite or after discovering how widespread it was and that it would greatly disaffect the class results);

* assuming students feeling guilt implies guilt of the actual wrongdoing (people can feel bad about actions that aren't wrong, even when they know they aren't wrong);

* [I can't even list all the rest of the ones I've read..]

Then there are the assumptions that, even if true, aren't relevant, like:

* assuming students paid money for it because it's a business school * assuming older generations have superior ethics to the current generation (many would argue on the hypocrisy of older generations accusing others of entitlement); * whether the instructor is lazy or not (this is only relevant to issues of perceived value of the class, instructor, program, and school; not to the issue of academic dishonesty)

I have read these and many more from both people criticizing the students and people criticizing the instructor. The point is that people in these threads are assuming the video gives more facts than it does.

The only relevant factors I see are how they acquired the test bank and how the instructor communicated the nature of the exam. Neither of these factors are actually that easy to determine from the video. On one hand, the very existence of the test bank isn't something the instructor should feel either has to be divulged, if he has a reasonable expectation that it is supposed to stay private, or explicitly informed to the students that it's off limits. On the other, this is also a possible scenario: that some students reasonably assumed past or public exam material was fair game; encountered the test bank publicly (or acquired it from someone else thinking that they got it legitimately); used it to study; thought, upon seeing the exam contained some of the same questions, that they had studied from the right material; and only realized it afterwards, even as late as when the instructor revealed the extent of the incident, then felt compelled to confess. Is it likely it happened with all the confessors? Probably not. Is it possible and plausible it may have happened with some of them? Certainly. Presumably, all the confessions were in private, some possibly anonymous.

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