Sunday, May 06, 2007

Students, MBA, cheating, culture, and disciplinary actions

In the past week, the keyword "Duke MBA cheating" suddenly topped the search coming into this site.

No wonder. On April 26, Fuqua’s Judicial Board, following the procedures set forth in the Honor Code, found 34 members of our first-year class guilty of cheating on a take-home final examination. These students will receive disciplinary actions ranging from expulsion to failing grades.

This incident definitely doesn't help the case of MBA students being the ones who mostly to cheat, a survey found out last November.

A survey of 5,331 students at 32 graduate schools in the United States and Canada found an "alarming" amount of cheating across disciplines, but more among the nation's future business leaders. The study found 56 percent of MBA students acknowledged cheating, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law school. The study asked about 13 different types of cheating, ranging from copying a classmate's test answers to lifting sentences from the Internet without attribution.

I agree with the school's decision - to take disciplinary actions and to make it a big deal out of the Honor Code. Cheating is cheating. Incoming students signed the Honor Code. Instructions are typically clear on what students can and can't do during exams or assignments - at least from my experience.

Although I don't have strong opinion on the actions taken, these actions show how serious Duke in not tolerating cheating. I think it's particularly good to incoming students, prospective applicants, and recruiting companies.

Duke has also been continuously informing the 2007 incoming students as well as alumni. The Fuqua Dean confirmed that the students involved were from multiple countries on four different continents.

With no intentions to stereotype, I'm not that surprised international students were involved. I feel that there are many "common" practices, at least in Indonesia, that would've been considered cheating in the U.S. For instance, copying others' assignments. Other practices, like cheating in the in-class exam, also exist (or existed in the 90's).

Two most common cheating practices in this region are probably corruption and bribery. Like copying assignments, they perhaps are more common rather than exceptions. It's like, it's not smart to not corrupt if you get to certain positions. That's THE reason people want to get there. That's probably one of the reasons why people are interested in getting into politics or working for the government.

It will be another long discussion on how to eliminate corruption and bribery. But one thing we can do is to do what Duke did. Consistently and correctly take disciplinary actions to the cheaters.