Ethics 101

09.04.1211:00 AM ET

Harvard Cheating Scandal Embarrassing For All Parties

Further developments in the Harvard cheating scandal paint an unattractive picture. Scott Lemieux isn't thrilled.

The other oddity of this case is that I’m baffled why you would make an exam in an intro course with questions this narrow and specific a take-home rather than an in-class exam. I’d be interested to know what other instructors out there do, but I only give out take-home exams in upper-division courses where there are broad essay questions that would make inappropriate levels of collaboration obvious. This isn’t a defense of the students if they did what they were accused of — leaving aside the pathetic sense of entitlement, they violated rules that were clearly specified in advance, and that’s cheating. But it also seems pretty obvious to me that unnecessarily creating rules that are extremely difficult to enforce is going to lead to more cheating than is necessary.