Does the School Honor Code Curb Cheating?

Academic integrity is the backbone of any institution and violations are often met with zero tolerance.  Such was the case at Harvard where last year, 279 students were suspended for an academic year for being suspected of cheating on a take home final.  According to a recent New York Times article, the students that were suspended in the cheating are returned to school this fall, but they came back to a Harvard that has cracked down on cheating.

Before the cheating scandal, Harvard (like many universities) relied on its student Honor Code to curb cheating. Honor codes ask students to hold themselves to academic standards that represent the integrity the institution expects of its students.

But are honor codes enough?  Apparently not all the time.  The article quotes a student saying “I love honor codes, but honor codes are about a culture, and I’m not sure how you get that going.”

The simple fact is that cheating is much easier today than ever before.  Internet-savvy students are able to quickly access stolen tests, answer banks and information that would be easy to pass-off as their own.  This increased access is proving a temptation for many students that is too great to resist.  This has led many teachers and test administrators to fight back using the same weapon – technology.

Some schools have significantly reduced the amount of cheating taking place by setting up an online monitoring system, As a result, they fortify their integrity, but that often comes at a high price, as some insist that monitoring Internet usage is an invasion of privacy. Yet more and more, administrators are coming to the conclusion that if they want to be serious about curbing cheating culture in their schools, the honor code is not enough. They have to actively seek cheaters out.

honor code

Christie Zervos

Director of Operations, Caveon Test Security

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