Harvard Investigates 125 Students for Cheating on Final Exam
Harvard University is investigating 125 students accused of collaborating on a spring take-home final exam, in what could prove to be the largest Ivy League cheating scandal in recent memory.
Nearly half the students in an introductory government class are suspected of jointly coming up with answers or copying off one another. Groups of students appear to have worked together on responses to short questions and an essay assignment, violating a no-collaboration policy that was printed on the exam itself, said Jay Harris, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education.
Although no students appear to have lifted text from outside sources, some apparently plagiarized their classmates’ work, submitting answers that were either identical or “too close for comfort,” Harris said Thursday.
A teaching fellow noticed the similarities in May while grading a subset of the exams. He alerted the professor, who approached the college’s Administrative Board, the body that oversees student behavior. The board was worried enough to spend the summer interviewing some of the students and reviewing every exam in the class.
The students whose tests were flagged as problematic — nearly 2 percent of the college’s approximately 6,700 undergraduates — have been notified and will appear before the board individually in the next few weeks, Harris said. Some may be exonerated, but those found guilty could face a range of punishments up to yearlong suspensions.
The university also plans to bolster its anti-cheating efforts by better educating students about academic ethics. It notified all undergraduates and their parents about the incident Thursday.