Stanford finds cheating increasing, especially among CS students

February 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm 20 comments

Boy, do I know this story!  The increase in cheating cases at Georgia Tech directly led to our three approaches to CS1.

“My feeling is that the most important factor is the high frustration levels that typically go along with trying to get a program to run,” said computer science professor Eric Roberts, who has studied the problem of academic cheating. He noted that most violations involve homework assignments rather than exams.

“The computer is an unforgiving arbiter of correctness,” he said. “Imagine what would happen if every time you submitted a paper for an English course, it came back with a red circle around the first syntactic error, along with a notation saying: ‘No credit — resubmit.’ After a dozen attempts all meeting the same fate, the temptation to copy a paper you knew would pass might get pretty high. That situation is analogous to what happens in computing courses.”

via Stanford finds cheating — especially among computer science students — on the rise – San Jose Mercury News.

In 1999, Georgia Tech instituted the requirement that all students had to take an introductory computing course, and until 2003, only one course met that requirement.  Just as Eric describes, cheating was rampant in that course.  One semester, we turned in something like 140 cheating cases in the class.  That wasn’t a high for us, but it was the first time that we had a student who told his story to reporters, who got it on the AP wire.  Interesting observation: FERPA laws in this country don’t allow a University to defend itself when a student complains about how the university treated his academic misconduct case — we simply can’t say anything about the case.  The ensuing uproar led to a University committee about the ills of our one-size-fits-all model of computing-for-everyone.  That’s when we created our Computing for Engineers (in MATLAB), and our Media Computation course for liberal arts, architecture, and management majors.

So while I don’t wish rampant cheating on anyone — not the instructors or the students (there are no winners here) — we used the lemons of bad publicity to create the lemonade of a new approach to introducing computing, especially for non-majors.

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Beginning to Rethink CS Education at NSF A University President Advocates Tweaking Tenure: Getting the behavior we reward

20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Tate  |  February 9, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I hate to sound like one of those old curmudgeons who grumbles about what’s wrong with kids today, but what’s wrong with kids today??? Things are no more “frustrating” today when the compiler gives an error than they were when I was an undergrad almost 30 years ago. In fact, compilers are much friendlier than the old compilation errors I got in our intro computing class – FORTRAN on a DECSystem 10. It was a challenge – it was fun! – tracking those down and squashing the bugs. Now you give students a little challenge and they complain about frustration and they fold. Are kids so coddled today that they give up when things don’t work with little effort?
    OK, enough ranting – if that’s an accurate observation and not just me being grumpy, then what can we do about it? How can we create a culture where overcoming obstacles is a fun challenge rather than a burdensome chore that is easy to quit on? Or maybe this is just a problem with courses for non-majors, and it’s what separates a good potential CS major from someone who would never be a CS major?
    About a decade ago I was chatting with some high school teachers when my university hosted a programming contest for high school kids. One teacher pointed out that her best CS students were those that also played either music or golf – her theory was that they were used to tasks where you are really bad at first, but you persevere and overcome that. But you have to be able to accept that you’ll really stink at it for a good long while.

    Reply
  • 2. Josh  |  February 9, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I’m sure employers will enjoy it when fresh graduates give up because their compiler errors make them too frustrated.
    That lemonade tastes deeelicious!

    Reply
  • 3. John Haugeland  |  February 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Funny – everyone wants to switch away from classical, well understood imperative object oriented languages to whatever nouveau fad is crossing a given campus on a given day.

    Why? Because these nouveau languages are ostensibly easier to understand, easier to work with.

    Yet the curriculum gets easier, cheating rates go up, and we blame the difficulty of the work.

    Reply
  • 4. Erik Engbrecht  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    This isn’t in the least bit surprising.

    I think CS professors could do a better job of letting students know just how much work it takes to succeed in a programming class. Even for “gifted” programmers it’s probably 2-3x the work of an English class with a similar syllabus where you substitute papers for programs.

    I think it’s worth noting the students studying other subjects with project intensive classes often have it harder (in terms of raw work required) than CS students. The amount of work architecture students do is astounding, and I don’ think most of the other engineering fields have it any “better” than CS.

    That being said, I think I a lot could be gained by switching from “programming projects” (taking several weeks to complete) to “programming assignments” (taking at most one week to complete) that build on one another until you have a whole that is of equivalent size. I’ve noticed many programmers have no idea how to decompose and structure code, so if they receive a “big problem” they end up with a big mess. Juniors/seniors need larger project-based classes, but asking students in an intro class to do something that most professional programmers can’t do is really cruel.

    Reply
  • 5. Alan Kay  |  February 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    One facet of good pedagogy is to be able to answer the question “When should it be easy and when should it be hard?”

    Generally speaking we would like “the hard” to be purposeful and the surmounting of it to cause important positive changes in the learner. In other words, given the limited number of concepts the human brain can pay attention to at any one time, we would especially like beginners to use all the chunks they have available dealing with important content.

    Unless we really confuse Computer Science with “vocational training for programming” and confuse a first year course in programming with a possible desire for a job 4 years hence, what possible point could there be to use ancient bad methods for programming, compiling, getting error messages, etc, with what needs to happen in a first class?

    When designing EToys for 10 year olds in 97, we could not imagine why we would like to have any worries about typing and other syntax errors hamper the learning of how to make computer objects and tell them what to do. So we just did a DnD script builder UI that guarantees perfect syntax (with the ability to make any changes instantly).

    This was easy to do because Etoys was built on top of Squeak Smalltalk — a “classical (even primary) well understood imperative dynamic object-oriented language” with considerable media abilities, including its own dynamic IDE tools — which can change and recompile any code in well under a second without leaving the current context.

    What happens in most CS departments, and what first courses seem to emphasize, is disgustingly obsolete with respect to the deep inventions of personal computing and user interface. And is at odds with what the students really need to learn early on.

    I don’t like the idea of cheating, but I’d be curious to see what the story is when a decent learning environment is compared to the trash in most CS courses.

    We could just be seeing many students with some taste reacting against something ridiculous — and by the way, this was a big impetus in the invention of interactive and then personal computing in the 60s and 70s!

    We just didn’t want to deal with another punched card or have to wait for results on a line printer to see if our program compiled. We used the analogy of how ridiculous it would be to blow a note on a flute and have to wait any time at all to see if we were successful.

    When we (the ARPA research community) invented “always alive” systems in the 60s (JOSS and InterLisp were two of the early robust ones), we were dinged that “this isn’t the real world”. And similarly for graphics displays and easy to use interfaces.

    We (the old PARC fogies) have been completely nonplussed by how the bad old ideas have been recaptulated down through the years, especially in academia (which should know better — people are literally paying academia to literally “know better”).

    But we see not just VT100 emulators, but that the VT100 emulators are simply themselves emulating punched cards. And the huge disconnect between programming and debugging persists today, with even more compiler errors on languages with terrible C like syntaxes and vanishingly small ratios between utility and mechanisms which must be learned.

    We see terrible OS and language designs which have been promulgated in universities during the 60s and 70s while big inventions such as personal computing, dynamic languages, and the Internet, “No centers” architectures, etc., were being created. We saw many of these much better ideas perverted back to the bad old ideas (to call data-type/procedural programming — even with “abstract data types” — “object oriented programming” is not just a travesty and completely wrong, it also has almost obscured the few advances in programming and architecture invented since the 60s)

    Now, it is possible that the students are just cheating to cheat, but my guess is that they are really complaining about really important issues.

    Best wishes,

    Alan

    Reply
  • 6. Raymond Lister  |  February 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    When I sat in on Beth Simon’s Media Computation class at UCSD, I was very impressed with the classroom atmosphere. The students seemed to be having a more positive experience than students in more traditional CS1 classes. I am therefore inclined to accept that a media computation approach decreases the overall level of “cheating” in CS1.

    By the way, below is a description of a paper that looked at cheating. The paper is accessable via the web (URL given below):

    Sheard, J., Carbone, A. and Dick, M. (2003) Determination of Factors which Impact on IT Students’ Propensity to Cheat, Fifth Australasian Computing Education Conference. pp. 119-126

    http://crpit.com/confpapers/CRPITV20Sheard.pdf

    Abstract:
    There is a large body of research that indicates the practice of cheating amongst students in the tertiary sector is widespread. Various studies have also attempted to determine reasons why students decide to cheat, or not to cheat. Although some common factors have been identified, there are indications that the level of cheating varies across disciplines of study, suggesting that there may be factors in specific learning situations that have influence on a student’s propensity to cheat. This paper reports on two studies, one which investigates the cheating practices of IT students and their attitudes toward cheating, and the other which investigates the work practices of IT students. These studies identify particular problems that IT students face in their learning and give insights into situations which can lead to poor learning practices and, in the worst cases, cheating.

    Reply
  • 7. Mark Guzdial  |  February 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I’d like to think that you’re right, Ray, that Media Comp does lead to fewer incidents of cheating. Open-ended assignments that represent individual creativity might motivate students to want their *own* collage, animation, movie, or music. However, I have no data supporting that hypothesis.

    After our cheating crisis, we changed how we ran all our introductory courses. We allow collaboration on programming. (In some cases, encourage it through pair-programming.) More of the course grade is based on examination than on programming homework. Unless the cheating is egregious (e.g., handing in someone else’s work, with the other’s name on it, and claiming no collaboration), we don’t prosecute cheating cases anymore — it’s not worth our time.

    I agree with Alan. We can do better than have students face indecipherable error messages (Java error messages are the pits!). The point of my story in this post is to say that a moment of crisis can be an opportunity for reform and new approaches, which is what happened with our cheating crisis. The reform, however, may not have anything to do with the crisis. MediaComp and the Engineering CS classes have higher pass rates than the predecessor class — that’s a good thing. I can’t claim that they reduced cheating.

    Reply
  • 8. edtechdev  |  February 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    The problem isn’t giving up because of a compiler error. The problem is being accused of cheating because of a compiler error and being threatened with expulsion.

    That’s what happened to me when I took that awful survey class 15 years ago. I had never seen or used the gdb debugger before in my life and we were expected to use it right away.

    I went ahead and turned in a program the first week that didn’t compile, I figured better that then nothing. The next thing, I am in front of the dean or dept head being threatened with expulsion. Luckily the teacher understood, and today I work on compilers and simulations, no big deal.

    But perhaps I should have complained about it, since the other student who later complained led to improvements in how they do things.

    Reply
    • 9. Alan Kay  |  February 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

      A very telling comment on all counts! Thanks for being willing to write it.

      Cheers,

      Alan

      Reply
  • 10. Academic Copying and Cheating  |  February 11, 2010 at 2:06 am

    […] […]

    Reply
  • 11. Dennis J. Frailey  |  February 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I’m looking at this both as an adjunct professor of computer science and software engineering and as a practicing software engineer — both for over 40 years. One of the most important elements of professional software development is collaboration and I find that today’s young people, for whatever reasons, are culturally aligned with this – that is they are accustomed to working together and producing better work than they might as individuals. Some of their behaviors would be viewed as unethical cheating when looked at from a conventional perspective, so I’ve found it valuable to spell out in my classes what kinds of collaboration are encouraged and what kinds are not. One litmus test is this: if they feel the need to hide it, it is probably wrong. (They are required to document when they collaborate and to explain how collaboration improved the quality of their results.) In other words, I try to clearly communicate my expectations.

    That said, I also find that the number of cheaters in my software engineering courses seems to inch up a little every year. Many of those I catch at it are from non-US cultures, some of which tend to “look the other way” at behaviors we would classify as unethical, such as bribery and theft of intellectual property. In other words, I believe these people are products of their respective cultures and those cultures are not always consistent with the traditional American / Western European culture with regard to these matters.

    So what are we to do?
    1) I believe we need to be more serious about teaching ethics – in both graduate and undergraduate courses. More than just lectures, we should get into discussions and philosophical issues here. No, I am not expecting us all to meet the ideals of the “renaissance man”, but we do need to broaden our perspectives beyond the more technical aspects of our discipline. We are producing graduates who are supposed to be well rounded people, not machines who can write good software but are ethically vacuous.
    [For similar reasons, I believe we have an obligation to teach them to read, write, and communicate.]

    2) I believe we need to accept that collaboration is considered an important thing for many of those who practice in the field of computing and, thus, we should design our assignments and other curricular elements to reflect that. Does this make it harder to properly evaluate each individual? Yes. We face the same dilemma in the workplace when teamwork is vital but individuals are evaluated on their individual merits. But doing an effective evaluation is part of our duty as educators.

    Reply
  • 12. Lon Levy  |  February 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I’ve just dealt with an academic integrity hearing for the first time. This is the culmination of a semester that involved nine students (four at a university where I teach C.S. as an adjunct and five at a high school where I teach A.P. C.S.) cheating; a new record for me, more than double the old.

    I can’t prove any of this, but here is what I think was going on behind the cheating: two students made an innocent, though completely and obviously wrong, decision that it was okay to share materials during an open-note assessment; five were stunned that computer science required more effort than playing video games and their teacher wouldn’t notice that the code was copied if a few variable names were changed (even though the data for the unit tests was identical); and two were tired near the end of the course and turned in the wrong files … failing miserably at coordinating their story after their identical projects, including the name on top, were turned in.

    I do understand the points that others are making about using better tools, paired programming, and making things adequately clear in advance. By the way, I do assign paired programming projects, but some projects are to be done by individuals.

    The problems in my introductory courses were primarily a large failing in marketing. I don’t think my students had a clue at the start of the school year what computer science was. The stereotypes of programmers working late into the night surrounded by pizza and mountain dew have faded into something else. Many of my students complain that they shouldn’t have to learn about logic, shouldn’t have to go to the effort of writing unit tests, shouldn’t have to do anything more challenging than playing Magic (the card game).

    I’m sorry that I don’t know how to solve this aspect of the problem. Yes, I am certain that there are many other aspects, but this is the part that is most apparent to me at the moment. For now, I started this semester by talking about the cheating last semester and telling students loudly that I am sick of dealing with that paperwork and if they cheat they will be caught and I will do the paperwork and I will not be nice about it because I’m tired of having to do it.

    Sorry for such a long rant. Friday’s hearing isn’t long enough ago yet. The student received a grade demotion for my course and an admonition by the Dean to not cheat ever again. I’m certainly glad that I wasn’t the accused having to go through such a hearing and, like serving on a jury, I hope to never have to participate in one again.

    L.L.

    Reply
  • 13. Achados na web | desfocado  |  February 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

    […] Stanford finds cheating increasing, especially among CS students […]

    Reply
  • 14. Cheating In Computer Science Classes  |  March 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    […] see Mark Guzdial’s take on this at Stanford finds cheating increasing, especially among CS students and how cheating influenced Georgia Tech in how they rewrote the curriculum. Useful information and […]

    Reply
  • […] that could be used in their classes, and they weren’t willing to learn Schehm.  We had a cheating scandal that led to a Campus Task Force, which recommended that we abandon the one-size-fits-all strategy that we had used previously. We […]

    Reply
  • 16. 2010 in review from Wordpress « Computing Education Blog  |  January 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    […] Stanford finds cheating increasing, especially among
    CS students February 2010 15 comments 4 […]

    Reply
  • 17. Dan  |  May 9, 2014 at 2:25 am

    This is really laughable. I lost my certificates in Advanced Systems and Databases as an off-campus student because the school regularly cheats its off-campus students inflating on-campus students’ grades, and when confronted about it, they sneer it away like a bunch of clueless arrogant jackasses who cannot even fix their own problems.

    If it sounds like I have no appreciation for the excellent teaching I received, that is not the case. By and large, the professors are among the best of the best. But, I had assignments delivered to our box by courier after they were due or minutes from when they were due while on-campus students had a week to work on them. Still, I survived and occasionally pulled all-nighters in the remote classroom so I could put my assignments back into the box when I completed them.

    But, that failure in fairness did not cause me serious difficulties. What made life difficult was that many courses were lab courses, and while it was easy for on-campus students to get partners or teams, off campus students often had to compete single-handedly against several teams of two, three or four.

    The one that cost me my certificates was when I changed employment and my new employer was not a member of SITN. I found a new remote site about half an hour away from work, and it was the last course I needed for both certificates.

    The quarter was a short summer quarter and the course was exceptionally difficult–difficult enough that the instructor said it should have been divided into two quarters.

    At the beginning of class, the instructor asked students to form teams of two or at most three. The written instructions of the class prohibited students from forming teams of four or more, so a young woman in the class, finding herself unable to join her friends asked me to be her partner. And for the first time in all my courses, I had a partner. Once the teams were settled, she came to me and apologized telling me the instructor had allowed her to join her friends to form a team of four leaving me out in the cold.

    Now, if the school can cheat like this, then why not the students?
    Isn’t it hypocritical and dishonest for the instructors and head of the Computer Science Department at that time, and since, to pretend to value integrity? What is the Stanford Honor System anyway? A pretense? A hypocrisy proposed by hypocrites?

    I can assure you of one thing, there can be no sincerity at Stanford, no integrity, no legitimate respectability until it gets off it’s lazy, pathetic, dishonest, arrogant jackass butt and learns to right it’s wrongs rather than running away from them for years as the cowards they have shown themselves to be.

    No wonder their students like Tiger Woods can go off to be a billiionaire whoremonger. When will they grow up and learn to be fair to their off-campus students? Until then, I would hope every company in their membership would drop membership and sign up for other schools instead. It’s not that their teaching lacks quality, but that they have shown no courage and no integrity and no willingness to correct their wrongs. They need to grow up and learn to do that.

    I brought up my final course. During that course, a student from Carnegie Melon university was visiting and taking this course, and late in the quarter, she discovered we were both in the same situation. Funny how these wrongs don’t happen in total isolation. She asked if she could be my partner, and since I was further along in the project, she agreed to document my work and give suggestions while I tried to get it working. But, although I offered no pressure and only encouragement and appreciation, she disappeared until two months after the course was over when she called to apologize for letting me down.

    That quarter, I received a D. I received the highest score in my final exam in my Operating Systems course, also operating alone, but after seven all-nighters of very hard work competing singly against teams of up to four, I asked for an incomplete and a fair chance to compete on a fair, level ground, and I was denied. I paid thousands for an education and the school was more than happy to take my money and cheat me out of my score, my certificate, and a fair chance to learn the subject with excellence.

    So, if you are thinking of taking courses at SITN, I hope you will consider dropping it and going for a different source of education. There are free courses from a variety of excellent schools online from Coursera and Udera. And while some on-line universities are lower in quality, the best ones are designed for on-line study. Chances are you will learn better and have a more fair chance at getting good grades. Stanford’s program is a bolt-on. It was not designed for off-campus students, and usually the school is willing to cheat the off-campus student to inflate grades of on-campus students.

    If you are in charge of education where you work, in the interest of sincerity and quality education, perhaps you would consider dropping SITN from your offerings in favor of better programs. Or if you see your company offers SITN or study at Stanford as a benefit, perhaps it would help to recommend a change even if you must give that suggestion anonymously.

    It would be nice if Stanford would improve the school’s integrity in this area, but I question whether it ever will. But, if it does, will it ever make good on the promises of fairness it made to off-campus students over the years? For seventeen years the school owed me a course, a fair chance at a decent grade, and two certificates, and it compromised its integrity for what? For arrogance? To maintain a bad relationship with anybody of integrity?

    It is hard to write these things, but I actually love the school enough to do this. I wish I could blast this across the sky so everyone would read it. I wish the consequences of their actions could be more immediate and painful and drive a change for the better. I have longed to see the school come clean for years and nearly decades, and I have often wondered if I have wasted my time and whether they would ever love sincerity. I find it frustrating to bring this up again after so many years. After 27 units of study in Computer Science and taking every course that would fulfill the requirements for two certificates, I have no certificates. And I never had the joy of having a team or partner except briefly at the beginning of one class and at the end of one class. I did not get what I paid for, and I worked excessively hard and paid thousands only to get the sneer and rejection of a body of arrogant incompetent jackasses who have no integrity or maturity to right their wrongs. Just silence. Just cowardice.

    Reply
  • 18. Dan  |  May 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Sorry my last post was so negative. For almost two decades now, my heart’s desire was to see integrity come to Stanford and other universities. Seventeen years I lived out my life and career with no certifications from Stanford and no effort to address or fix their wrongs I saw extraordinary subject matter excellence but no integrity. No character. No sincerity. No humility. No backbone. No diligence to guard against lying, cheating, and slandering their students, and no willingness to accept humility and work to make things right..

    Some may feel that a person has a little integrity if he tells the truth once in awhile, But no lie was ever promoted without the assistance of truth. In this case, Stanford cheated and maintained rigidity. Rather than maintaining excellence, they enforced cowardice, arrogance, dishonesty, and incompetence to this day as they have made no effort to right their wrongs. They run like cowards.

    What is the point in railing against a school that has provided me with excellent teaching? If you love someone you will fight long and hard against everything that threatens that person whether it is from the outside as in an outside attacker, or whether it is from the inside such as a person’s addiction to illicit drugs.

    Here, cowardice, dishonesty, arrogance, irresponsibility, cheating, and hypocrisy keep the CSci Department steeped in corruption, soaking in incompetence, and failing themselves and the students in everything that matters while burning virgins at the alters of self-worship and preservation of illicit character qualities.

    What is the solution? Diligence. Rigorous commitment to identifying what a grade for a class should mean and making certain the grade says what it is supposed to say. Take the responsibility for grading away from the professor, give it to a separate entity. Keep the students anonymous. Keep only the last grade and put no limit on the number of times a student can retry since the past is not an honest representation of what the student knows today. Put the professor and the student on the same side. Judge the professor’s success by the success of his or her students. Keep the students anonymous so their scores cannot be influenced by racial prejudice, religion, gender, age, etc.

    What about projects? You can either forget about using projects for grades and use projects as a means of obtaining the necessary knowledge to pass a rigorous exam, or you can break projects into parts and use those parts for exams. Instead of building an operating system, build a process table. For a second project, using a process table of a given type, build a time-sliced multiprocessing mechanism. Build a device driver. Build a simple filesystem. Add features to the filesystem. Create demand paged virtual memory. To eat an elephant, eat it one bite at a time and make sure the student gains sufficient expertise in all areas rather than letting them get buy with 90% of them or 80% or 70%. If they don’t know the subject matter well, encourage them to study and practice their weak areas and develop real excellence both in the subject matter but also with integrity. Model integrity. Model sincerity. Forget the arrogance, the cowardice, and the stupidity. Be good.

    Reply
    • 19. Dan  |  May 10, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Once excellence in education is established, return to those who have been cheated and identify what must be done. A thief doesn’t stop being a thief when he stops stealing. A thief stops being a thief when he has returned all he has stolen.

      Stanford, in its arrogance, has stolen and in its cowardice has refused to face its wrongs, and in it’s laziness has failed to make good on its promises and has turned its honor code into a code of hypocrisy and nonsense.

      When I took Algorithms in 1997, the professor broke his own rule and allowed an on-campus student to join with others to form a team of four while leaving an off-campus student, me, without a partner or team. Given that this was unfair, I did not ask for a better grade to compensate; I asked for an incomplete grade and a fair chance to complete my project, learn the subject matter, and retake the test. After having spent seven all-nighters, having been cheated, and having been approached by another off-campus student in a similar situation near the end of the quarter, and seeing her collapse under the pressure of the class, you would think a university that pretended to care about excellence in education and integrity would actually act on it and give me a fair chance–not just me, but everyone else who had been cheated this way.

      One should expect that such a university would not need to be pushed, fought, scolded, and prodded to correct its wrongs of the past. But, here you have a pack of arrogant jackasses, cowards, liars, people with no moral compass trying to pass off rigid dishonesty for honesty in grading.

      When the school becomes an honest one, you will see it proactively seeking out those who have been wronged and making an effort to make good. You won’t find people like me complaining over the arrogance and infantile political behavior, the hypocritical posturing, and the cowardice of ignoring those who have been wronged.

      Until then, those who make use of the school’s services should take time to ask questions and find out if these accusations are reasonable. And how does the school react to hearing these things? Does it cover up? Does it launch a counter smear campaign? Or does it ask questions to determine who they have wronged and seek ways to correct those wrongs? My guess is they will slander their accusers and do nothing to correct their wrongs. This has been their history, and it seems to be their commitment.

      It would be a dream to find them willing to prove me wrong. That is,if they could do so by correcting the wrongs for the greater good.

      Reply
  • 20. Dan  |  June 12, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I made the mistake of dropping the ball after the initial attempts to correct this wrong when I should have bird-dogged it to completion immediately fighting relentlessly until the battle was won.

    As it is, Stanford has done nothing but take the low road, the coward’s way out, dodging the issue, hiding from it, refusing to engage in dialog. If Stanford had any sincerity about its commitment to excellence, you would see the same level of commitment to integrity that you see in their pursuit of excellence in several isolated and measured locations. You would see Stanford pursuing excellence in grading. And there would be people to contact who could address issues and right wrongs. And you would not find such obvious and egregious failures going ignored year after year, decade after decade.

    Truth is, the faculty in charge have no integrity. I did not say they were lacking a little integrity. It would not be honest to say they had any integrity at all. They are committed liars and cowards, and they don’t care anything about those they wronged.

    I am talking about people like Jeffrey Ullman who could have corrected the problem immediately but dug his heels in and refused only to admit in a phone conversation months later I was right, that this was not fair to off-campus students. But, my certificates and my grade and my education are not what I deserved. And if they were willing to do this to me, and to another off-campus student I knew, then I have to assume this is their pattern–cheating off campus students, sacrificing their education and their grades to inflate the grades of those on-campus.

    I am torn between being proud of Stanford and ashamed of it. I have seen such excellence in subject matter in various locations, and Stanford is among the best. But, I have rarely seen the cowardice, the insincerity, the irresponsibility, and the utter irresponsibility in their grading practices where they can declare a course rule and break it as long as it is in favor of the on-campus student.

    But, they cheat off-campus students. II would say they used to cheat, but it would not be honest to relegate this to the past since they continue to refuse or ignore or avoid every opportunity to make good on their promises and give students what they worked for and paid for.

    Because of this, donors to Stanford should reconsider. Member companies of SITN should consider other sources of education that operate with integrity, provide excellent teaching, and deal with off-campus students with competence.

    Reply

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