In the past, I’ve posted lists of unusual, weird, and even more weird headlines, but this one headline along with its following first paragraph deserve a separate post.

“Dartmouth Probes Cheating Allegations”   “A Dartmouth College professor has accused scores of students, many of them athletes, of cheating on in-class quizzes in his sports ethic course.” (Valley News November 14, 2014) Ultimately sixty-four students were charge with honor code violations. (The Dartmouth January 7, 2015)

Cheating in an ethics course? Seriously? Are you kidding me? What happened?

This cheating was made possible through the use of “clickers,” something new to me. After a bit of investigation, I now know that a clicker is a keypad device issued to (sometimes for a fee) each student when enrolling for a particular class, usually a large class. This course I sports ethics had more than 272 students. The device looks a lot like a TV remote, and at its best enables professors, especially those of large classes, to get instant feedback on not just attendance, but also on degree of understanding of material. So, for example, a professor might ask or post a question , the clicks then send signals to a computer which records them. Then if it appear many got the answer wrong, the instructor might choose to re-teach material.

The problem occurs when these clickers are misused. For example, a student can hand his/her clicker to another student in order to be marked present, or, more seriously hand off the device so another student can take the test/quiz for him/her. This is what happened at Dartmouth in the sports ethics class. The situation came to light because when both a hard copy and clickers were used for the quiz, 43 students who did not respond to the hard copy responded to the clicker version. Additional students came forward to confess responsibility in the incident.

Although at first reluctant to identify these students as part of a group, it became apparent that many of them were athletes in this course designed especially to introduce ethics through sports. So what happens now? It was first reported that the professor “decided to drop the marks of the accused students by a full letter grade, rather than fail them”. However, this decision was not in line with Dartmouth’s honor code so subsequently most involved students were suspended for a term. The college held hearings which have extensive regulations regarding evidence, witnesses, presence of attorneys, etc. At this time there is no report as to whether suspended students will be barred from participation in any of Dartmouth’s academic or extracurricular activities which would include sports. There is some speculation that individual team coaches might impose additional sanctions.

My reaction: Personal ethics should keep pace with developments in technology.

(Dorothy C. Judd)

Next post: Monday, January 19th


About twofelines

What to say? I love my family and friends. I also love kids, cats, and books. Oh, and potato chips and Cheez-its. I am a retired teacher who still loves to be in the classroom, so now I am a substitute teacher.
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