Ethics in an Academic Environment
Universities have developed set policies covering the appropriate uses of technology in an academic setting because electronic devices have evolved to the point that cheating is far easier now than it was in the past. Personal Data Assistants (PDA’s) are a very common factor in everyday life, MP3 players are found in almost everyone’s pocket or backpack, and the use of the internet opens up a whole new world for academic learning, and consequently, cheating.
Most Colleges and Universities seek to promote academic ethics and to prevent cheating with a formal policy. Whether a school puts forth a code of conduct in its student handbook or uses an honor code signed by all students in freshman orientation, official regulations are commonly employed (Olsen, 2008). Many of these policies are stated in broad terms. The University of Phoenix: Student Code of Academic Integrity (2008) is typical with its regulations.
The policy begins with a mission statement and relates the importance of honesty to the statements realization (University of Phoenix, 2008). Some schools do specifically mention the misuse of technology in their code of conduct, but in similarly general verbiage. For example, the Syracuse University Code of Conduct (2008) prohibits “misuse of computer software, data, equipment, or networks”. The Code of Conduct (2008) also mentions the one use of technology that is specifically prohibited in many codes: using the Internet to purchase or copy prepared papers for submission. As stated in the University of Florida Honor Code (2008), the source of these documents “includes …a commercial vendor of research papers, [or] a file of research papers or tests maintained by a student organization or other body or person”. The University of Phoenix Code of Conduct (2008) states:
The student must rely upon their own abilities and refrain from obtaining assistance in any manner the faculty does not explicitly allow. This includes, but is not limited to, providing or receiving answers to an exam, use of faculty materials or answer keys, or a student having someone take his or her exam. (p.1) These codes of conduct and policies are in place in many schools. From high schools to universities, the aspects of cheating have been adequately addressed. With technology readily available, academic dishonesty is much easier to achieve than in the past. The Texas Technical University, in their Codes of Conduct (2008), describes Dishonesty as anything that gives a student an unfair advantage. Prevention
To find examples of methods used to prevent particular acts of cheating, one must turn to available sources of information intended to assist individual professors. The recommendations of the District Academic Senate Academic Integrity Task Force range from disallowing cell phones to requiring “any students who may depend on the use of hearing aids or other devices to submit documentation from a physician to confirm this need” (2007, p.5). The Provost’s Task Force at SUNY Albany warns of “an array of fairly exotic electronic devices that the student determined to cheat on an exam might find available” (2006). They go on to recommend that faculty change the way in which exams are administered to better facilitate close monitoring of students and that they provide a clear and pronounced statement of expected ethical standards in the classroom (SUNY Task Force, 2006).
Further examples of prevention techniques are more likely to be found in anecdotal statements regarding the individual methods of college and university faculty. To prevent cheating when students’ computers are used to take tests, the UCLA School of Law requires that students run software that restricts the user from accessing anything but the test (Glatter, 2006). Glatter also reports that one professor rearranged the classroom to...