Professor Richard Quinn of the University of Central Florida recently discovered that 200 students in a class of 600 cheated on a test. They got a copy of the publisher's testbank and studied from it. Now some students are objecting to Quinn's accusation, arguing that what they did doesn't constitute cheating. At TechDirt, Mike Masnick writes:
The "cheating" was that students got their hands on the textbook publisher's "testbank" of questions. Many publishers have a testbank that professors can use as sample test questions. But watching Quinn's video, it became clear that in accusing his students of "cheating" he was really admitting that he wasn't actually writing his own tests, but merely pulling questions from a testbank. That struck me as odd -- and I wasn't really sure that what the students did should count as cheating. Taking "sample tests" is a very good way to learn material, and going through a testbank is a good way to practice "sample" questions. It seemed like the bigger issue wasn't what the students did... but what the professor did.
In looking around, it looks like a lot of the students agree. They're saying that the real issue is that Prof. Quinn simply copied questions from the publisher, rather than actually recreating his own test, and noting that this seems like a massive double standard. The professor is allowed to just copy questions from others for his tests? In fact, some of the students have put together a video pointing out that, at the beginning of the year, Prof. Quinn claimed that he had written the test questions himself.
Do you agree with this argument?
Link via Urlesque
If the testbank was publicly available, then there was no cheating. If, on the other hand, some student or group of students misrepresented themselves and got access to a teacher only tool, as has been stated here, then there's no question that they were cheating, and were wrong.
As to whether or not the teacher misrepresented his tests, well, he said he "created" the tests, and he said that he might write a test questions. Creation from a test bank is still creation, and he never said he wrote every single question. Like it or not, a teacher has the right to use any source they choose for tests, and no, it isn't cheating, and it isn't even a double standard. Test are created to assess knowledge of a subject, and there is no standard to which the test creator must hold to, other than to create an appropriate test for the subject matter that has been taught.
Finally, and what really matters, is that the University called it cheating. It doesn't matter what the students think is right, it doesn't even matter that the teacher thought it was cheating. It's the University that gets to make the final decision, and it's the University that gets to expel students for cheating.
If a student really believes that what he or she did was not cheating, take it up with the appropriate department of the University. Argue the point. Show why it wasn't cheating. Anyone who used the methods the University is calling cheating who is not willing to argue the point is tacitly accepting that he or she was cheating.