Ad Board Denies Request For Physics Final Waiver
The Administrative Board of the Summer School has denied a request by Paul G. Bamberg '63, associate professor of Physics, that the final exam for his course Physics S-1 be waived, because of the discovery last year of several cheating rings in the self-paced course.
The ad board has accepted the petition for the past two summers.
Twenty students were implicated in the cheating scheme, which involved a sophisticated code of answers to review tests that were the basis for grades in the course.
Thomas E. Crooks '49, director of the Summer School and a member of the ad board, said in a letter to Bamberg dated July 30. "It is seldom if ever that a course as large as yours in permitted to omit a final examination."
"Our experience in 1974 confirmed the conventional wisdom," he added, referring to the cheating case.
Bamberg said yesterday that he does not believe "there is any truth" to the assertion that instituting a final must eliminate cheating.
"It could make cheating a bit harder, but we've seen that in a course of this nature we don't get a significant amount of new information about what a student has learned on the final." Bamberg said. "We do find out who cracks under pressure, which may be what the med schools want to find out."
Bamberg said he would give a final that was "academically valuable," despite what he said is his belief that the review tests were "in every respect better" than a final in a self-paced course.
"All a student has to do is make a reasonable showing on the final to maintain his grade in the course," he said.
Student in Physics S-1 take 12 review tests, each covering from two to nine of the course's 30 units, depending on their individual rates of progress.
Students may take a test more than once until satisfied with their performance. Section leaders review the tests with individual students, providing correct answers and suggesting methods of improvement.
In last year's cheating incidents, groups of students pooled correct answers to all review tests that they then used to provide an answer code for re-tests. The scheme was uncovered when Bamberg noticed significant improvements in the scores of students who had been doing poorly.
A check of their review tests by Bamberg revealed that they had provided correct answers without performing any calculations.
Bamberg said he will have to write 600 questions, twice the normal number, to cover the review tests and the final.
"But this may all be a dead issue in a couple of years anyway, since the Faculty Council will probably vote that all self-paced courses must have a final," he said.
Students caught cheating in last year's scandal who are not Harvard College students are still waiting for resolution of their cases.