Organized Cheating at Ohio State University Prompts Investigation

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

A total of 85 students enrolled in the veterinary program at Ohio State University are facing disciplinary measures that range from a warning to dismissal from the college for cheating on quizzes and tests.

Launched in February, the investigation began after allegations surfaced that students had created a way to share answers to online take-home exams.  Close to 650 students are enrolled in the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the school.  Investigators looked at the tests themselves, as well as where they were taken and how long it took students to complete them.  They also noted any patterns found concerning right and wrong answers.

While officials did not release names of the courses involved or details concerning the discipline students would receive due to federal student-privacy laws, a written statement concerning penalties for unauthorized collaborations stated that punishments can range from a warning to a dismissal and would also result in the student receiving a zero on the quiz or exam in question.

The Student Judiciary Committee at the school handed out the punishments with its rulings upheld by the college’s Executive Committee.  Some of the students have appealed their punishments to the office of the university provost.

As a result of the conspiracy, OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs is currently looking into all other tests and quizzes taken in the college that used the same software.  While the school obtained the software only two years ago, it has decided to stop using it for any exams or quizzes that do not allow students to collaborate.  In addition, it has said take-home tests will allow collaboration in the future, writes Mary Mogan Edwards for The Columbus Dispatch.

According to a written statement, the college will be making changes to its student orientation programs and other training programs to place more focus on the honor code and “university-wide expectations for academic conduct.”  New training for instructors will also be introduced that offer ways to handle “academic misconduct in the digital age.”

This is not the first time widespread cheating has happened at the school.  Last year, 24 students enrolled in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences were punished after it was found out that one student had completed coursework for the other students involved for a fee.

A total of 501 undergraduate and graduate students, not including the 85 from the veterinary school scandal, were found to be in violation of academic conduct rules for the 2014-15 school year.  That number is an increase from the 457 found guilty the previous year, reports Karen Farkas for Cleveland.com.

Harvard University experienced a similar scandal in 2012 when it launched an investigation into 125 students who had been accused of collaborating on a test.  As a result, questions were raised pertaining to the importance of collaboration and working together in the workforce, and how that emphasis has confused students’ views concerning exactly what cheating is.