Exam sting nabs cheaters; students claim entrapment.

According to an article in the University of Maryland Diamondback a sting operation by a professor netted 12 cheaters in his class.

It is common practice for instructors to post exam answers on-line or outside their offices immediately before giving the exam. Some students use cell phones and text messaging to recieve these answers from a confederate outside the classroom. In this case, the professor posted bogus answers on his web site, then busted students whos responces matched the false key for 25 out of 30 questions.

Predictably, the accused students are claiming entrapment, and the office of student legal affairs may represent them.

Although it is silly in the extreme to post answers while the test is still in progress, I don’t belive there is ever any inducement to cheat. No matter how easy it is, it’s even easier to “just say no.”

It’s no more entrapment than police leaving an unlocked bike outside a store in a bike thief sting. They shouldn’t have been cheating.

I do agree that it is bizarre for a professor to post the answers to the test before all of the tests are completed. Can’t say I’ve ever encountered it.

IMO No matter what, they were cheating, and had it not been a ploy by the prof to catch them, they would have done well on the exam via illegal activities. They are responsible for their dishonest actions even if someone set them up.

What on earth is the reason for making the answers available before the test has been completed?

I must say that if I was a student the only reason I could think of would be a sting operation like this, and for that reason alone I would not rely on the answers.

Perhaps if these students are not expelled for cheating they should be failed for being very stupid.

At least the chairman of the Student Honor Council understands that this isn’t entrapment. Clearly, the students involeved were happy to think that they were getting the answers without doing any work.

IIRC, entrapment is very misunderstood.

Most people seem to believe that if a cop asks you if you have drugs for sale, and you say yes, then this is entrapment. This is incorrect.

Entrapment means that the criminal does something that they would’t ordinarily do. Like the cop says, “find me some drugs to buy or I will beat you up.”

So, I could see a case to be made for entrapment if the professor “accidentally” left the answers written on the blackboard or something right in the faces of the students. Then, even students that don’t ordinarily cheat may be tempted because it would be so obvious and easy. But, it sounds like these students had to actively seek out ways to cheat. They got caught. They should face whatever punishement the school dictates.

I like the fact that it was business students. I’m relieved to know the future Enrons and Arthur Andersens of the country will be in good hands.

Expel the punks.

This isn’t “entrapment” in any sense of the word. They should be expelled.

Should professors be disciplined for compromising the integrity of the exam system by posting the results before the exam is complete? Even if nobody cheats, how can we know that nobody has cheated?

I’m also confused about why answers were posted before the exam. What if students excuse themselves to go to the restroom and they “happen” to catch a glimpse of the answers on the hallway bulletin board? Even the most morally upright students would be tempted to take a peek. I know I would.

All you can do is take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen. In this case, the professor wanted to know who peeked.

During my Aerodynamics course midterms, I would be given a copy of the solutions when I handed in my paper. SO, only those who had finished would know immediately and the rest wouldn’t.

Even in regular supervised testing, you can’t KNOW if cheating has occured or not.

And surely a basic step is not to publish the answers until the exam has been completed?

Irrelevant. While they should not post such answers, it is not a crime nor immoral nor openly inviting abuse to do so. It is still incumbent upon those men to not cheat.

I think that the cheats need to be disciplined.

But how difficult is it to post the answers, say, one hour after the exam? Surely the students can wait that long to learn how they did.

In regard to why a professor might post the answers before the exam is over:

The University of Maryland has an honor code, and in my experience, the culture at colleges with honor codes is a little bizarre. Professors often don’t feel the need to impose any sort of external controls on cheating, and have even been known to throw students directly in the way of temptation – apparently operating on the assumption that students are all perfect ladies and gentlemen who would never consider cheating. (One remarkable example from my PhD exams: Part of the exam consisted of a number of excerpts from various works of medieval literature, which the student was supposed to identify from memory. In fact, about 90% of these items could be identified by a simple Google search. The exam was unproctored and could be taken anywhere on campus; most students chose to do so in a computer lab or in their own offices, all of which have Internet connections. Even with grad students, this struck me as an astoundingly bad idea – though, to be fair, neither I nor my colleagues cheated, to the best of my knowledge.)

Honor codes are useful in conjunction with other measures, but they do encourage a startling amount of naivete on the part of faculty members. (In my experience, it’s usually the older faculty who tend to give students gratuitous opportunities to cheat; perhaps they started their careers at a time when they could safely assume that nobody would take an advantage of such an opportunity, which they certainly can’t nowadays.)

In other news, the “honor system” has largely been abandoned when it was discovered that the professors had the honor and the students had the system.


Oh,yes, absolutely. I’m not suggesting that the practice of publishing results before the test is over is any sense an excuse or defence for what some students appear to have done here. I’m just suggesting that, whether or not any cheating occurs or is suspected, it’s a stunningly bad idea, it compromises the integrity of the examination system, and professors who do this ought to be asked to account for themselves.

While I agree that the students should be expelled, there are some curious aspects to this.

Is it really common practice to post the answers before a test is given? I have never heard of this.

What possible reason could there be to do this? Is there any benefit to be gained?

If I knew that a professor had been doing this for years and would continue to do it, I may be inclined to cheat as well.

Is it just me, or is it common sense to wait until the test is over to give out the anwers because dishonest people may gain an advantage over honest test-takers?

Thing is, though, we are talking about text messaging here. The person who is reading the answers isn’t directly getting anything out of their deceitful behavior. Its the person at the other end receiving the answers who is benefitting. If it were me (big IF), I wouldn’t just scribble down the answers that are reported to me. I’d check them with the question to be sure they fit. Wouldn’t you? Seems only natural. What kind of idiot just writes down A, B, B, A, D, C, B, A, C…without at least looking at the questions to see if they fit…

A lot of idiots, trust me :wink:

This one guy I know couldn’t make head or tails of some Circuits course. So, he and 5-6 others devised a plan to supply answers to each other during the midterm. So, they all sit within a diamond formation at the testing centre. He’s at the back. Now, he doesn’t think the guy immediately to his north-west (from whom he would get his answers) knows his stuff very well. So, what does he do ?

…He switches every third answer he copied.

He failed miserably.