ethics

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Sun Nov 16 14:09:43 EST 1997


Writes Mary Ann Sesma (msesma at ZEUS.BELL.K12.CA.US)
>she was told by
> another classmate that the others had used chem majors to take the
> exam.

When I was an undergrad at Berkeley (early 80s), when you 
took a final for a big class such as Chem1, your blue book 
had to have an official sticker with your name on it and 
you had to sit with your lab section.  The sticker was 
handed you personally by your TA, who knew you, and who proctored
the section.  This made
it impossible to have your exam taken by "ringers". 

The casual attitude that students have towards cheating is
shocking and shows a complete failure to understand the
principles of academics.  Last year, a number of
graduate students in my class cheated on their homework
(by copying a previous year's key).  These people are 
working on PhDs, and they see nothing wrong with cheating,
because it saves them from some effort in a subject they
weren't interested in.  

I really wonder why they are in graduate school.  Obviously,
they aren't very interested in learning.  Will they
feel it's okay to make up data, because they are bored with
doing controls?  And for the pre-meds--what sort of doctor
will they be?  "I cheated on pharmacology", or "I didn't bother
learning spleen". 

A related issue is the attitude that students are owed something
by the teacher.  I have had a number of students ask me to 
regrade their papers, on the off chance they might get more
points.  They seem to feel they deserve a high grade merely for 
handing in an assignment.  I tell them that they get an A
the same way they get an F--they earn it.  

I am a very tough grader, and quite unpopular with  
students as a result.  Good thing I don't teach much, and 
don't depend on teaching evaluations.

Any student who cheats, plagiarizes,  copies, or facilitates
the same, should at least flunk the course in which the 
cheating occurs.  IMHO. But as another post pointed out, 
 administrations are quite fainthearted when it comes
down to imposing standards of this sort. 

-- 
-susan
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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 
http://flosun.salk.edu/~forsburg/lab.html
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