Veritas, or truth. That's the word emblazoned on the official seal of Harvard University. But on Thursday, the university confirmed that it is currently investigating one of the most widespread academic misconduct scandals in recent memory.
The investigation reportedly centers on a final exam administered last spring in an undergraduate government class. WBUR obtained a copy of the take-home test. The first page contains these rules:
The exam is completely open book, open note, open internet etc. However, in all other regards, this should fall under similar guidelines that apply to in-class exams. More specifically, students may not discuss the exam with others.
However, more than 125 students are alleged to have done just that. Charges range from collaboration to outright plagiarism. And while Harvard will not reveal the names of the students or the extent of its investigation, the allegations have launched a campus-wide conversation about academic integrity.
But the problem isn't Harvard's alone. According to some studies, a third of college students admit to cheating on tests.
Are students being pushed to achieve at all costs, even if it costs them their integrity? Or are we all just living in a broader culture of cheating? Has the meaning of "cheating" changed in the digital age, when information is freely shared and collaboration celebrated?
- Kate Carlow, junior at Harvard University. This past spring she was a student in the government class under question, but she is not one of the students suspected of cheating.
- Tricia Bertram Gallant, director of the Academic Integrity Office at the University of California, San Diego and author of "Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct and Empowering Change in Higher Education."
- Howard Gardner, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of "Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Twitter and Truthiness", and co-author of "Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work."
This segment aired on August 31, 2012.