Speaking of Cheating

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About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    [I am not a university person] In my view he, and the school, gave them A LOT of grace. As I understand what he said, he made them all take the exam again and those that cheated and admit to it have to take a 4 hour ethics class. That is a lot of grace. There will be those that obviously cheated and they will let them off the hook (e.g. they get a 75 on the make up but got a 92 on the first one).

    I am going to share this with my kids, thanks.

  • Jeremy

    Ouch. Yeah, he was pretty gracious to offer a way out. I’d at least have made them stand up right then and there. Offer expires in 5 minutes.

  • Richard

    If they can track down those who cheated, why make everyone retake it? Why not just fail the cheaters?

    Am I missing something?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Richard, I think the whole thing is that they may accuse someone who did not cheat of cheating and that is absolutely not fair. Type 1 vs. Type 2 error

  • http://www.christianhumanist.org/chb Nate

    I don’t know whether it would be of any help to folks, but I wrote up a little essay about this and the Ed Dante piece this week. You can get it here.

  • MatthewS

    Wow. I appreciate his taking a stand. But I’m glad I’m not in the class, having to ask for time off work!

    Tangentially related, I never understood why some profs continue to give the same basic tests year after year when they know the frats have files. For two years, I attended a private engineering university which continues to be known for its excellent standards (amongst those in the engineering world who know about it). But that was one issue that I could never quite understand.

    Also, coming at this with a background in software and internet development, I personally assume that every test bank in the world is compromised in some way at least by the time the first test is administered. I assume that one can cheat against almost any test bank out there, for a price. Perhaps I’m mistaken. But perhaps I’m the one being realistic.

  • MattR

    Watching this, my heart goes out to this prof! When he said he was “physically ill,” and “disillusioned”… wow! Seems like he was barely keeping it together here.

    Can’t imagine being a prof and having to deal with this.

  • Brian

    Some of the youtube comments indict the professor for using test bank tests instead of making up his own. They suggest that it’s perfectly legal and ethical for a student to purchase these tests from the publisher as study aids. Any truth to this? (Honest question, I really don’t know.)

    If a student can indeed purchase these tests from publishers as study aids, it seems to me like it would be a good idea to do so. If the prof simply uses the same test that a student can buy, it seems pretty silly to be upset with the students. If, on the other hand, the test bank was hacked into and contents distributed etc. well, then the prof has every right to be angry.

  • DAK

    Too much bluster and bravado in this. A signed, hand delivered note from God??? Cut me a break. My question is why he is using a textbook published test bank instead of writing his own tests? Is he simply lecturing the text? He has a team of lab assistants who cranked out a new test; why couldn’t that have been done before? He could create his own test bank over time that would be specifically targeted at his content. And how is this forensic analysis team going to differentiate between those who memorized the test bank and those who legitimately studied and had good mastery of the material? Not overly impressed with this guy!

  • Robin

    I think that his claims about forensically concluding who the cheaters were is just a bluff. I just don’t see how he could do that statistically with enough certainty to bring down educational punishment. It is a good bluff, but just a bluff…especially when you realize that the payoff is just a 4 hour ethics session. If he could really forensically prove cheating, the price for outing yourself would be much higher.

  • smcknight

    Robin,

    I wondered what he could mean by “forensic” and it has to be overblown. I take it to mean something like this:

    Evidence that is demonstrable and will stand up in the Academic Appeals/Sanctions committee at his school (or whatever the committee is called).

  • rjs

    It probably is partially a bluff. But on this type of test (given by computer in a testing center within a time window) there is generally a good deal of information available. Information such as the time it takes to answer each question and the pattern of responses.

    I would not give a test in such a fashion voluntarily. But many schools are offering such a forum and some require the use of such a testing forum.

  • Robin

    I agree Scot, I am just saying that if his forensic analysis was as conclusive as he seems to be implying, he would have offered a much less attractive contingency.

  • Jeremy

    Robin: My guess is they would use the make-up exam performance to bolster any case plus network logs from students dumb enough to use their school email to send the bank around. Yeah, I think he’s blowing up just how much ‘evidence’ will be able to be found, but I’m guessing the school’s standard of evidence is significantly lower than a court’s.

  • http://www.kingdomseeking.wordpress.com K. Rex Butts

    I have watched the video and read through these comments. Why does it matter what the teacher should have done or not done? Does the professors actions in any way justify cheating on the part of the students? The professor is not the problem…the cheating students are. But those cheating students would love for the larger society to focus on the professor actions as a way of evading responsibility for bad behavior.

    Sounds like a theme of our culture…evade responsibility for one’s actions by raising questions about the actions of someone else.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

    P.S., I’m a pastor and not a academian but I’ve been in a seminary class when another student was caught cheating.

  • Jeremy

    What are you talking about, Rex? It seems you are drawing conclusions beyond what’s been said here (and forgotten that there is a whole thread devoted to just cheating on the blog). Other than one comment, I’m not really seeing what you’re on about.

  • http://www.kingdomseeking.wordpress.com K. Rex Butts

    Jeremy,

    Some of the above comments seemed critical of the professor. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

  • Robin

    Rex Butts,

    I didn’t mean to be critical of the professor. Just that I thought he had overstated his case in a bluff attempt. If he really did have all the data (seconds per test question, etc.) that someone else implied, he might not have overstated it.

  • Timothy Dalrymple

    What he might know depends on the specifics of the test. He might be able to pick up on the use of specific wording, specific ways angles on the answers, etc., and it may be possible to correlate those with correct answers to questions that students in previous years virtually never got correct, etc. He may be overstating the case, or he may not, it just depends on the test.

    I had a student once crib the lecture notes from his father, who was a philosophy professor, to write an essay on Dostoevsky — and he used that Dostoevsky paper for as many classes as he could, often multiple classes per semester (since he took the kinds of classes where this kind of paper would be acceptable). It was so dramatically better than all of his other work that, for a teacher who got to know him well (as I did in this tutorial), the cheating was obvious. I asked him questions like, “Why did you choose this word here?” and it became obvious he did not even know what many of the words meant. He eventually confessed and pretended that he thought it was no big deal since it was from his father’s unpublished lecture notes.

    Sometimes university’s just want to preserve their graduation rates, and they hurry students along. I like the approach here; they’re giving students a chance, but they have to come clean, and hopefully learn a lesson.


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