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Education Idle

200 Students Admit Cheating After Professor's Online Rant 693

Over 200 University of Central Florida students admitted to cheating on a midterm exam after their professor figured out at least a third of his class had cheated. In a lecture posted on YouTube, Professor Richard Quinn told the students that he had done a statistical analysis of the grades and was using other methods to identify the cheats, but instead of turning the list over to the university authorities he offered the following deal: "I don't want to have to explain to your parents why you didn't graduate, so I went to the Dean and I made a deal. The deal is you can either wait it out and hope that we don't identify you, or you can identify yourself to your lab instructor and you can complete the rest of the course and the grade you get in the course is the grade you earned in the course."

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200 Students Admit Cheating After Professor's Online Rant

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  • Perhaps the students admitted to avoid punishments due to them being identified as a falsepositive..
    • Unlikely.

      In criminal justice, the defendant least willing to engage in plea bargaining is usually the one who believes he has committed no crime. Here, where the stakes are far lower, I'd also expect non-cheaters to first off not think they'd be falsely accused, and defend themselves if they do get accused.

      • Also cheating is very common in college. I have no difficulty believing that that many of those kids were actually cheating. There was a mini-cheating scandal in one of my course almost 10 years ago, and about 2/3 of the students were implicated in it.

        The professor also suffered some mild repercussions due to his methods of running the class, which allowed him to remain purposefully ignorant of said cheating.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The burden of proof in the case of faculty vs students is also much much lower..(if its against the student) And the stakes are the students degree, which is a pretty big thing it can be seen as paying a false speeding fine to avoid getting your DL cancelled
  • Reminds me of what happened in my university. Some students thought it would be smart for their final 4th year projects to go onto a public forum and offer money for somebody to do the project for them. The university sent a public mail out offering for the students to turn themselves in and redo a different project over the summer (might have been capped at 40%) or else risk getting caught and not get a degree + be banned from all the universities in Ireland.
  • Sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    This just shows me how sad of a state our society is in, when we have to pander to cheats and liars simply because there are so many. For the record, if I were that professor I would've had all their butts thrown out of school. It would've been a good example to the rest.
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:50AM (#34268576) Journal
    I have no problem believing that so many students would cheat, if they had half a chance to do so.

    I don't quite get (nor does TFA adequately explain) how such a large number had that chance to cheat, however - And on a midterm exam, at that? What, did he hand them out and leave the room?
    • Some of the professors at universities are extremely research focused, and do not place sufficient attention on undergraduate teaching. In one class, the teacher scheduled five midterms. After each midterm, he would hand out the answers to the midterm after the test.

      Very quickly, the procedure switched to leaving the answers at the front of the class, so people could pick up their answers on the way out of class. It is a boring to invigilate a mid-term, so the professor quit showing up at the midterms.

    • Probably didn't make a new exam. Old exam banks are common for people with the right connections.

    • by cranky_chemist ( 1592441 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:08PM (#34268884)
      According to this news piece, http://www.wftv.com/news/25798994/detail.html [wftv.com], the instructor used exam questions supplied by the publisher. Apparently, the test bank the instructor was drawing the questions from had been released into the wild and some of the students found copies online.
    • In the video he stated that he had used an exam bank to create the test. The first piece of evidence he really had, outside of statistical testing, was when someone anonymously dropped off the test bank at his office. One person found it, then it went viral.

      He said later on in the video that he had contacted all of the other professors at UCF, and all of the publishers that he dealt with and let them know that the exam banks were all compromised. Hopefully this incident "ruined it" for other cheaters elsewh

    • What, did he hand them out and leave the room?

      This is the way it worked where I studied. We had an Honor Code. The prof passed out the exam, and came back three hours later. I never saw anyone cheat, but I was always so concentrated on my own work that aliens could have landed next to me, and I wouldn't have noticed. If I witnessed someone cheating, I was required by the Honor Code to turn them in. This made a lot of students uncomfortable, and was often a hot topic for the university newspaper.

  • Bluffing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rakuen ( 1230808 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @11:50AM (#34268590) Homepage
    I imagine he had suspicions that many students had cheated, but did he actually have the means to generate the proof? Maybe this was all an impressive bluff. He couldn't pin it on everyone he wanted to, but by making it look like he could, he forced everyone into a difficult position. They could either fold and potentailly pass the class, or hope he was talking out his ass. After all, what you know doesn't neccessarily matter. Instead, what everyone thinks you know matters.
    • He was using statisical analysis. It's fairly easy to get a 90% certain detection of most forms of cheating. Most people won't consider that sufficient proof to convict a criminal, but it is surely sufficient to mail a letter to parents and require a re-rest.

      If you know the answers before hand without learning the material, then you are less likely to to know which questions are harder and which are easier, and very likely to get the easy ones wrong and the hard ones right. At the same time if everyone

      • by Altus ( 1034 )

        Yea and it only screws over 1 in 10 people.

        And what the hell is with the "letter to your parents" BS. When I was in school you got your ass kicked out for cheating and your parents were only a part of it if they were going to back a truck full of money up to a loading dock to keep you in school.

    • That's the EXACT thing I was thinking. Statistics are a wonderful thing, but it's not an exact science. At most he could, as he said, deduce that a significant amount of cheating was going on from the statistics. But mathematically narrowing it down to names? With enough certainly to get someone kicked out of school? Fat chance. At best I'm sure they were/are hoping to get students to rat about who exactly else bought/sold/traded the test bank answers. If it was someone online for download though, an

  • - If you're going to cheat, you should attempt to not get caught.
    - The more people that know, the more likely you're going to get caught.
    Therefore, cheating only works when it's a small number of people who can keep a secret. Preferably one.

  • When you use the Textbook samples test or reuse the same test year after year. This is what you get when some one passes it out.

    200 Students doing real cheating seems unlikely and makes it seem like they just studied the sample test.

  • Test bank? Who uses test banks? I don't know a single professor in my department (computer science) who doesn't write their own tests. I guess that's just a business school thing?

    I also don't think it's possible to know who cheated, just how many.

  • Don't tell me this guy reused old tests or had sloppy security.

    You're telling me this guy has taught for 21 years and was blindsided by the oldest, most common cheating vector?

  • It's like a whole different kind of cheating.
  • What kind of deal is this? If they turn themselves in, they get to complete the course? That is absolutely ridiculous. If they cheated, they fail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    Christ, they SHOULD be expelled.

  • Being that I did EE & CS, and dabbled in a lot of literature courses at a top university, I was wondering what he taught. In any of the exams that I took, it would have been impossible to cheat, and we had an "Honor Code," so the profs didn't even bother to check. TFA didn't mention what Dr. Quinn taught, so I googled him. He in a member of the faculty in the Department of Management.

    Management? Cheating? Sounds about right. Actually, he should give all those cheaters high grades; they seem to un

  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:21PM (#34269102)
    First test (that I'd taken 2 yrs prior) I realized over half of the 180 students cheated. I told him and he could not believe it was possible. So instead of proving it I devised a new test. 3 identical looking exams with 3 entirely different answer keys. Most of the students were using a key person to cheat from. About 4 people were getting the (live) answers from 1 person. With the new test I did nothing to stop the cheating. The questions were all entirely fresh as well. Nothing was brought into the exam room. The class had a normal pas/fail slope on the first exam. On the second 64% failed with less than 25% correct. 20% more got less than 70% correct. So 16% of the class comfortably passed the exam. The professor was outraged. I just thought it was funny. When many of them protested I simply showed them the results to prove who they cheated off and explained they were more than encouraged to go to the administration with the results.
    • by mathmathrevolution ( 813581 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:44PM (#34269484)
      64% failed?? That's outrageous. Even in the setup you describe students would have a 1/3 chance of cheating successfully. To me this suggests that virtually everyone was cheating, including a substantial fraction of the 36% who apparently passed. They just got lucky and cheated from somebody with the right test.
      • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:07PM (#34269886)
        I had an A, B and C exam spaced out so that you never sat next to or in front of your own test. And yes, I would say that almost everyone cheated. The exceptions would be the few who got quite high grades. I should add that I failed the person in the middle who fed the answers to those around them (quite easy to see who that was based on results and seat numbering).

        The prof felt that we were basically setting up entrapment and had a moral issue with it on the first test. From then on we told them we were doing this. To help combat potential cheating I added a D exam. Eventually the grades leveled out to a normal distribution.

        After looking at this video, I have to add, this guy is a tool. He is EVERYTHING that's wrong with education today. He's a fat lazy ass who feels he's entitled because of his position. Yet he cheats the very students at whom he's pissed. If he felt like he was delivering a good product in his education career he'd NEVER used canned tests. He'd also have fresh material that needed to have a new test created each and every time. Instead uses canned lectures and he's got a bank of assistants to do his bidding while he packs on the pounds and years to get to retirement. Teaching is an easy job for this type of person because they do it once and repeat until they retire. Using the moral high ground is just a way of deflecting the fact that he couldn't even write a good test.
        • by robotkid ( 681905 ) <alanc2052@ y a h o o.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @04:47PM (#34273418)

          After looking at this video, I have to add, this guy is a tool. He is EVERYTHING that's wrong with education today. He's a fat lazy ass who feels he's entitled because of his position. Yet he cheats the very students at whom he's pissed. If he felt like he was delivering a good product in his education career he'd NEVER used canned tests. He'd also have fresh material that needed to have a new test created each and every time. Instead uses canned lectures and he's got a bank of assistants to do his bidding while he packs on the pounds and years to get to retirement. Teaching is an easy job for this type of person because they do it once and repeat until they retire. Using the moral high ground is just a way of deflecting the fact that he couldn't even write a good test.

          You are aware that he's an instructor, and therefore not tenured, right? And that all he does is teach classes like this one? And that his salary is probably inbetween that of a janitor and a nurse on a good year? Also, that he WRITES management textbooks that are in use in many classes other than his? And probably the test question answer banks as well?

          Take a look at what they pay "instructors" at UCF. Consider that this man has been teaching for 34 years. http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/index.php?action=result&search=central+florida&state=Florida&year=2010&category=&withRanks=1 [chronicle.com] You could probably earn more teaching grade-school, not to mention you'd have teacher-tenure and a nice pension plan.

          So I'm not sure where your 'tude comes from. Teaching on a contract is a miserable way to live, with 0 prospects for career advancement and constant uncertainty if you'll still have an income next semester even if you've got decades of experience.

          There certainly are lazy professors out there that don't give a hoot about education, nor is the system set up to encourage them to change that in anyway, but this is one of the guys that has to pick up the broken pieces of the system. And when you consider that there are many schools that are now charging more for tuition per student per year than the non-tenured instructors actually make doing the instructing (in classes with triple-digit enrollments), you'll see they are being just as screwed by the system as the students are.

    • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:18PM (#34271122) Homepage

      Cheating is ubiquitous in our education system. I remember in high school, all of the "honors" students would sit around at lunch swapping homework and copying answers. Many of them cheated on tests as well. I don't think any of those "good kids" who took a bunch of AP tests and had a >3.6 GPA didn't constantly cheat.

      In their defense, their workloads were insane. I didn't take a lot of honors classes and only took a couple AP courses, and I still had 5 hours of homework a night. Every teacher acted as though they were the only ones giving homework. Meanwhile the homework was the most inane busy-work. History classes were all about memorizing names and places and dates, but you rarely got much insight into the complex causal links and cultural backgrounds underlying the events. Math courses were usually just plugging numbers into formulas that you were expected to have memorized. English courses spent a lot of time testing whether you remembered random facts and details about the book, just to prove whether you read it.

      Meanwhile, kids were constantly being told that "doing well" in school consisted of doing what you were told and getting good grades. The purpose of all of this was explicitly to get into a good college. No one was focused on actual learning. No one expected classes to be interesting or worthwhile on their own right. This is why our school system is absolutely insane.

    I cheated once. 't Was for a really crappy course on business administration during my CS study. Worst teacher I ever witnessed. Multiplied that by the un-interestingness of the subject and you get the incentive as to "why?"
    No regrets here. I never needed anything that was mentioned in the course. I'm happy to say that I'll never be the BA god some people can be. OTOH, I'm not too shabby on my CS skills, which is what I wanted to study in the first place.

    Mr. Quinn
  • Hmm. This isn't so cut and dry. It seems that the midterm was using questions over again from previous tests, and some students had access to the previous tests. At my school, PSU, in the engineering department, this was fair game. In fact, the Engineering Library even had some old tests on file. Old tests and previous course notes were valuable study tools. That being said since it was engineering, we didn't generally have multiple choice style test.

    If the teacher was lazy enough to use the same questi

  • I'd be offended if my morality was questioned because I had seen a test beforehand. I don't filter information based on what I should be able to know. I wouldn't steal the information from the professor to pass the test, but if someone handed me a copy of the test beforehand, I'd read it, not throw it away, and I wouldn't be ashamed.

    Also, I expect the university where I pay tuition to work for my money, for example by not re-using publishers standard tests but instead writing new tests. Is the morality o

  • I had math classes were we could have calculators but not a page of equations/identities. I developed a private code to store, say, a list of trig identities in a format only I could read. Thank you HP-41 and your alphanumeric storage. :) There were no worries because I never had a teacher who knew how to recall stuff like that from the calculator to check, and the HP-41 was relatively new.

  • Especially among fraternities and sororities. While originally these groups would keep older tests, which is NOT against the student code, access to test banks... that's all of the possible questions AND correct answers... is not only unethical... but illegal as they were obtained under false pretenses.

    When I was in college I knew of two frats who had access to almost all of the test banks from the college of textiles at NC State. At the time I really didn't understand what it meant as I wasn't part of thos

  • The article is rather short on details.

  • On a homework assignment. I considered yelling at everyone, but decided it was cleaner and more direct to just say -- pop quiz, do question #1 (very basic, 2nd week procedure) with any of the materials in front of you right now, and here's a formula card if you don't already have one. If you can't do it, then I'll retract credit for that assignment (everything else in the assignment was built on that initial result).

    Now, I don't have a huge lecture hall (N=30), so it's more feasible for me to personally ove

  • Head of The Class (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @12:45PM (#34269522) Homepage

    Students cheat to appear more proficient than they are. The authority of the system says, "You were very bad, but we'll give you another chance if you pretend to be contrite." Students pounce on it.

    Following this, the university was flooded with calls from law firms, congressional offices, and investment banks, all seeking contact information and resumes. "These kids have shown real initiative in both presenting a patina of proficiency, and recognizing a wristslap. In today's image-driven business and political environment, it is absolutely critical that we nurture these young charlatans to help them reach their full potential."

  • I think not, Prof (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cawpin ( 875453 ) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:34PM (#34270380)
    I'm not sure how it works at UCF, but this professor is breaking many standard rules of any college I've ever seen.

    1. You cannot punish a student if you have no proof they broke the rules.
    2a. You cannot change the schedule of the class, especially exams, outside of what is on the syllabus.
    2b. You cannot hold a student responsible for your own actions, ie changing the date of an exam and telling them they cannot miss it.

    If he has PROOF of cheating, punish those responsible. However, if I was in that class, and was falsely accused of cheating or was being punished for OTHERS' cheating, HE would have a serious problem with the ethics board and the dean's office.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.