Ethics

I’ve been thinking a lot about this

The other day, I saw this tweet:

Milton has a strong academic integrity policy, so clearly any students that got caught with this would face consequences.  Hamilton College (where I was a student) also had one so strong it led to the resignation of a President.

There’s a response to the tweet, that contrasts this with a letter from a Brown professor.  This second professor takes the position that in this particular moment, we’re all stressed and that students should just do their best.  Here’s what I think is being missed: you can have both approaches.

If your goal is to encourage students to do their best and not worry about their classes, to breath and try for some calm, you can still do that and expect your students to complete their work honestly.  I’m not saying that I would create a deliberately unsolvable problem, but submitting a wrong answer to a site I was fairly sure that students were using to cheat doesn’t feel like entrapment.  However, it does feel like too much of a gotcha moment, not a teachable one.

Much of what students do in our classes will have no practical application in the “real world.”  Finding a shortcut and cheating?  That can – and frequently does – have negative consequences “out there” and students do need to learn that lesson.  I’m just not sure this was the best way to have done it, particularly given the added stress of this moment in history.

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