Monday, March 27, 2006

Newsweek: Student cheating is reaching new levels

Newsweek International reports: In a huge study of 50,000 college and 18,000 high-school students in the United States by Duke University's Center for Academic Integrity, more than 70 percent admitted to having cheated.

Interestingly, the concept of outsourcing/offshoring appears in the cheating of the 21st century: From purchasing "original" essays from Web sites like to "outsourcing" computer-programming homework to experts in India via sites like, students can now buy A's for the price of a school lunch. (..) SparkMobile, a new service from SparkNotes (Barnes & Noble's take on Cliffs Notes), will text students themes to use for surprise in-class essays or beam them iPod-friendly audio summaries of classic novels.

Unlike the Chicago Tribune discussing the politics of stem cells, Newsweek does bring up Woo Suk Hwang: Scientists like South Korea's once revered stem-cell research pioneer, Hwang Woo Suk, fake lab results. In a recent poll of 25,000 high-schoolers by the California-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, nearly half agreed with the statement "A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed."

Newsweek noted: Many [universities] are even beginning to throw them [standardized exams] out altogether in favor of interviews and recommendations, markers of aptitude that can't be faked.

Sorry, but I don't believe that. Interviews and recommendations are a different proxy for ability, which could involve a different manner of misrepresentation. Just because someone says you are good does not mean you are good. In the realm of patent law, the debate about patent approval rates illustrates part of this issue. Quillen and Webster wrote about a range of 80% to 97%, which the Harvard Law Review (among others) elevated to 97%. The National Academy of Sciences initially bought into the story. Just because people endorse an idea, by citing it, does not make it true.


Post a Comment

<< Home