It Is Cheating But Not Worth Expulsion

Here’s the follow up to the story of the student who faced expulsion for running a Facebook study group for his chemistry class.  He was not expelled but does have to take a course in academic honesty.  In addition, he’ll get a zero for the homework, which counts as 10% of the grade.

This sounds like a triumph for digital natives over digital immigrants.  But, unlike when I made the first post, now I’m not so sure what I think.  I talked to some of the teachers I was working with this week, and they pointed out that unlike a face to face study group that usually has 5 to 10 members, this group had 146 members.  And, the follow up article makes a crucial point: “The professor had asked that students perform their work independently.”

That sentence hit me hard because I am always arguing that the piece where the immigrants can have an influence on students is in the ethics department.  There is certainly no way that we could argue that working with a group of students in Facebook could be considered doing your work independently.  And, if it was an unstated assumption, then I could back them up.  But, in this case, the professor stated that he expected independent work. Doesn’t he have a right to punish students who violate that stated expectation?

I suppose we could argue about the expectation itself.  We live in a networked world in which the traditional view of a solitary student studying seem outdated.  We live in a world in which students will be working collaboratively to solve problems.  But, we also live in a world in which, now and then, you are expected to work alone.  We live in a world in which we are expected to do the right thing even when no one is watching.  In this case, considering the prof’s expectations, the right thing to do seems to be that you work alone.

I think the most frustrating part of this for me is that we are hearing everything second hand.  The first article did not mention the fact that the prof expected them to work alone.  And, that one sentence doesn’t give enough information: work alone on projects? work alone on homework?


  1. durff01

    So students who study together in order to better prepare themselves for class are cheating? These students only formed a studygroup – how many times did any of us join a studygroup during our collegiate careers? My professors even faciliated these study groups? The only ‘crime’ was to use high tech tools to do so. Obviously, they did nothing wrong! Now students will hide themselves better online. What are we really teaching students by such actions?

  2. durff01

    another thought – there is a difference between ‘completing work independently’ and ‘bouncing information off each other’.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: