ran weekly discussion sessions — varied widely B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e

ran weekly discussion sessions — varied widely B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e

1-1  (250 words, 1 reference, original, no plagiarism)

Cheating Scandal

Cheating occurs at the prestigious Harvard University. In 2012, Harvard
forced dozens of students to leave in its largest cheating scandal in memory
but the institution would not address assertions that the blame rested partly
with a professor and his teaching assistants. The issue is whether cheating
is truly cheating when students collaborate with each other to find the right
answer—in a take-home final exam.

released the results of its investigation into the controversy, in which 125
undergraduates were alleged to have cheated on an exam in May 2012.1 The
university said that more than half of the students were forced to withdraw,
a penalty that typically lasts from two to four semesters. Of the remaining
cases, about half were put on disciplinary probation—a strong warning that
becomes part of a student’s official record. The rest of the students avoided

previous years, students thought of Government 1310 as an easy class with
optional attendance and frequent collaboration. But students who took it in
spring 2012 said that it had suddenly become quite difficult, with tests that
were hard to comprehend, so they sought help from the graduate teaching
assistants who ran the class discussion groups, graded assignments, and
advised them on interpreting exam questions.

said that on final-exam questions, some students supplied identical answers
(right down to typo- graphical errors in some cases), indicating that they
had written them together or plagiarized them. But some stu- dents claimed
that the similarities in their answers were due to sharing notes or sitting
in on sessions with the same teaching assistants. The instructions on the
take-home exam explicitly prohibited collaboration, but many students said they
did not think that included talking with teaching assistants.

first page of the exam contained these instructions: “The exam is completely
open book, open note, open Internet, etc. However, in all other regards, this
should fall under similar guidelines that apply to in-class exams. More specifically,
students may not discuss the exam with others— this includes resident tutors,
writing centers, etc.”

complained about confusing questions on the final exam. Due to “some good
questions” from students, the instructor clarified three exam questions by
email before the due date of the exams.

claim to have believed that collaboration was allowed in the course. The
course’s instructor and the teaching assistants sometimes encouraged
collaboration, in fact. The teaching assistants who graded the exams—graduate
students graded the exams and ran weekly discussion sessions—varied widely in
how they prepared students for the exams, so it was common for students in
different sections to share lecture notes and reading materials. During the
final exam, some teaching assistants even worked with students to define
unfamiliar terms and help them figure out exactly what certain test questions
were asking.

have questioned whether it is the test’s design, rather than the students’
conduct, that should be criticized. Others place the blame on the teaching
assistants who opened the door to collaboration outside of class by their own
behavior in helping students to understand the questions better.

Answer the following questions about the Harvard cheating

1- Using Josephson’s Six Pillars of Character, which of the character
traits (virtues) apply to the Harvard cheating scandal and how do they apply
with respect to the actions of each of the stakeholders in this case?

2 – Who is at fault for the cheating
scandal? Is it the students, the teaching assistants, the professor, or the
institution? Use the concepts of egoism and enlightened egoism to support
your answer.

3 – From a deontological perspective and the point of view of achieving
justice, were anyone’s rights violated by the events of the scandal and
outcome of the case? Explain why or why not.

1The facts of this case are taken from Richard Perez-
Peña,”Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal,” February 1, 2013, Available at


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