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Is UO doing enough to catch and punish cheating students?

6/13/2013: It’s finals week and I’ve heard a lot of frustrations from faculty and students about the increased level of cheating at UO and the perceived lack of enforcement by the Office of Student Conduct. A student journalist has made a public records request for data on expulsions. If anyone has stories feel free to post them here, leaving out any identifying student information, of course.


  1. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    Dog says

    one thing that could help is if faculty
    remember to turn off access to their
    blackboard site during the final exam.

    I did an experiment last term to see how
    many students were accessing the course
    web notes during the midterm (which wouldn’t
    have helped much anyway)

    Three results:

    30% of the class was doing this

    Most of that 30% did not actually complete
    the exam

    the average score of those 30 students was 1.6
    standard deviations below the mean

    obviously it didn’t help

    after the midterm, I then sent them a message
    about logging and time stamps so I can prove
    that they did this but also informed them that
    a) it didn’t help their exam score and b) they were too busy looking for answers to complete
    the exam

    so clearly its a self-penalty they all occurred.

  2. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    The Office of Student Conduct is nearly useless in academic dishonesty cases, other than trying to minimize potential legal entanglements for the university.

  3. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    TEP sponsored quite an interesting program about 3 weeks ago on this very subject. Informative and quite helpful. Highly relevant to this post, and to all faculty members who have issues in this area. Student Conduct was there and outlined a new initiative to make protocols and standards more transparent to students and faculty. There was, however, also a very strong sentiment in the room that it was essential to start these conversations with students when they enter, at Orientation. As someone mentioned who was attending, the UO makes students understand drinking and smoking issues, why not scholarship and honesty as well. Apparently this is not yet part of the Orientation program but the 40+ folks there clearly agreed it should be.

  4. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    On this topic, people should appropriately condition their statements on whether they are in a discipline with “real” grades or one that tends to grant all As. (I give 50-percent Cs, Ds, and Fs.)

    To the extent education is merely a device by which the more-able separate from the less able, people should consider making their exams more difficult and allowing students to cheat. The smart ones are better at cheating too, so they tend to rise to the top just the same.

    • Oryx 06/13/2013

      What an awful comment, for so many reasons. And I’m someone from a “hard” discipline.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      I actually give grades based on the student’s performance, not based on an even division of percentages.

    • Awesome0 06/14/2013

      Their performance, or yours….?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Dog on performance

      Performance measures depend on the kinds of assessments given. I have noticed
      that many faculty give grades based on perceived performance or
      anecdotal evidence (or other tangential issues). Giving fair grades
      is hard, though we all think we do it, and the 10 week quarter which
      limits the number of assessments does not help at all. Mostly its guessing
      and somewhat arbitrary – at least for me.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      To Dog – please elaborate on your above observations that “many faculty give grades on perceived performance or anecdotal evidence.” what do you call “perceived performance”, and what metrics and anecdotal evidence are you alluding to? are you in any way qualified to make this statement? have you any data that support this? the fact that YOU assign grades somewhat arbitrarily, mostly by guessing does not mean “many faculty” do. if you want to have a discussion on such a serious matter then you must be more quantitative. otherwise you are proving the point – you make arbitrary, non quantifiable statements, just like the grades you assign.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Dog says

      I am not going to elaborate very much but I will clarify a bit.

      1. In large classes where student performance really is distributed like
      a bell curve, I think its pretty easy to grade on a quantifiable scale. In
      fact, I grade in units of standard deviation for those classes where the only
      free parameter is the letter grade that average maps into (A+ of course, so
      I can support grade inflation). In fact, I really wish we had a decimal
      based grading system so that those grades, measured in units of standard deviation, can have more precision. If a student is between an A and a B (numerically) I want to give a grade of 3.5 and not A- (3.7) and thus
      contribute to grade inflation through rounding up.

      2. I just got done teaching a graduate class this term and I gave everyone
      either an A or an A- because that’s what you do.

      3. Perceived performance means differential weights are ultimately applied
      in a qualitative way independent of the actual performance. As in, this student had a C in the class but the last paper they wrote was really good, so I am
      giving them an A- (thus effectively discounting all the other work done previously – this I have personally witnessed but that’s all I am gonna reveal
      and you can choose to disregard it).

      4. This is a blog – I am supposed to make arbitrary and non quantifiable
      statements with each post. Dog’s can’t prove points – they lack the rhetoric skills. Dogs only bark.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Dog on Timing

      and right after I hit submit
      this email came out:

      “This is very important grading information related to Blackboard grades. We at CMET Consulting (Blackboard IT support) have noticed that many instructors may be giving out inflated grades because of a misunderstanding of one of the settings in the grade center.”

      See, I told you its hard to assign grades fairly :)

  5. Manzorz 06/13/2013

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    In a previous life I worked in an intelligence agency. Part of the appeal of working in an academic environment is that being spy is *not* (supposed to be) part of my job. Hence, I try to minimize the opportunity to *detect* academic dishonesty. There is a persistent background level of it, and if there is a means to observe it, I see it and then have to deal with it. As just another example of how the incentives in our job need rethinking (research articles with non-existent impact are good if they appear in the right places, but reaching outside your discipline/department is bad), there is no percentage in dealing with the cheating problem.

  7. Awesome0 06/13/2013

    I’ve always wanted to pay a grad student to sit in the exam catch them cheating and make a big show and have them cry and tear up their exam. But cheaters would probably take that distraction to try to cheat more.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Apparently the thing to do is get some upstanding undergraduate upperclassmen; they know the cheating tricks of their peers and have the best eyes.

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