LS1b Staff Responds to Alleged Cheating

The teaching staff of Life Sciences 1b has changed the course’s grading policy as a disciplinary measure for “course-wide cheating” that was reported earlier last week. The staff has reduced the amount of credit for components of the course for which cheating was alleged and increased the weight of the final exam.

Breakouts—questions that are asked during lecture and answered via clickers registered in students’ names—will be worth 1 percent of final grades and in-class quizzes will be worth zero percent.

In an email to all LS1b students, preceptor Casey Roehrig wrote that concerned students brought the possibility of cheating to the attention of the teaching staff.

“While we cannot be certain that cheating occurred, we think that it is likely, particularly given the complaints we received,” Roehrig wrote.

“I think that cheating probably occurred for the in-class quizzes, just because it was so easy to cheat,” said Amy Wann ’14. “I do think they did the right thing by omitting the in-class quizzes, because people definitely were comparing answers.”


Roehrig explained that collaboration during breakouts was encouraged for discussion-based questions only. But some breakouts were meant to test solely the students’ understanding of the material, she wrote.

“Partway through the semester, we became aware that some students had discussed their responses to these clicker questions—either in the classroom or online or both,” Roehrig wrote.

The teaching staff said that they believe that students were using a Facebook group called “Ls1b” to cheat on questions during breakouts and in-class lecture quizzes.

Roehrig wrote that due to the large size of the course the staff relied on the honor system while quizzes were administered.

“I don’t really think it makes that much of a difference. If you honestly did the work in the class there’s no substitute for that,” said Vishal S. Arora ’14, a student in the course. “It does add a little bit more pressure, but if the student has done the work he or she will be fine.”

Robert B. Krabek ’14 agreed and said that the increased weight on the final could benefit those who have not been performing well.

“But I think it’s stupid how they just assume that people were cheating with the LS1b Facebook group,” Krabek said.

The teaching staff, however, believes that the change will not affect students who have not cheated.

“Everyone will have an equal opportunity to demonstrate his or her understanding of the course material on the final exam,” Roehrig wrote.

—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at