Harvard Courses Turn to Monitored Exams, Open-Book Assessments, and Faith in Students As Classes Move Online
With the first week of online classes underway, faculty say they have faith in the College’s Honor Code to guard against the temptation of mid-exam Googling.
Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I” released a report about the long-term efficacy of its “regret clause,” an academic honesty policy that stirred controversy upon its induction in 2014 for allegedly bypassing the Honor Council.
Current Pforzheimer House resident dean Brigitte A. B. Libby will assume the position, which helps oversee the Honor Council, starting June 4.
The College’s Honor Council is increasing its outreach to students this semester as part of a broader push to grow the body’s influence on campus.
One lawyer said Harvard is unlikely to face lawsuits from students accused of cheating in CS50 because the cases are “awfully hard” to prosecute.
Some CS50 staffers said the course’s recent expansion and online availability of answer keys likely contributed to high levels of academic dishonesty.
FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said he was reluctant “to get involved too deeply” in the Computer Science department, where he still teaches.
Former students and course staff said course policy was unclear about what constituted cheating, creating the potential for unintentional violations.
The vast majority of 115 academic dishonesty cases the College’s Honor Council heard last academic year occurred in courses offered in the Sciences Division or the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, according to the adjudicating body’s first-ever annual report.
Undergraduate members of the student-faculty body tasked with implementing the College’s first honor code are reaching out to their classmates in dining halls and lecture halls about the goals and philosophy of the young committee.
Administrators acknowledge that a question that logically follows the honor code’s introduction is whether Harvard will move to expand students’ role in disciplinary procedures later on.
“The vast majority of faculty really do care, and the vast majority of students care. Yet I think a good portion of the time, we miss each other in unintentional ways,” said Brett Flehinger, the Honor Council’s secretary.
A study co-authored by Steven D. Levitt suggests that assigning students randomly to seats during exams significantly reduces instances of cheating.
Undergraduate members of the Honor Council—the student-faculty body tasked with enforcing the honor code—are adjusting their schedules as the Council hears its first slate of academic integrity cases.
The Administrative Board has repeatedly pushed the database’s target release date back, amid concerns that the summaries could compromise the privacy of individual students.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences members voted unanimously in favor of legislation requiring students at the College to make an affirmation of integrity, and for the establishment of a new Theater, Dance, and Media concentration.
The College will no longer conduct pre-term planning if members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote in favor of proposed changes to the student handbook at their monthly meeting Tuesday.
As the College readies for a fall rollout of its first honor code, undergraduates on the student-faculty body that will hear cases of academic integrity have begun their training.
Under the honor code legislation, students would be required to affirm their awareness of the honor code each time they register for the semester and would be unable to register should they not make that affirmation.
In addition to these requirements, faculty members would be “encouraged to ask students to affirm their awareness of the Honor Code on assignments when appropriate” when the honor code goes into effect in the fall of 2015.