Dirty Rotten Cheaters in the News, October 2008: It's only business...

Dirty Rotten Cheaters in the News, October 2008: It's only business...

Its only business, right?

Ive only recently become aware of The Business Ethics Blog, written by Chris MacDonald. He seems to do a really nice job of integrating differing approaches to various ethical issues du jour, using a writing style that is clear and seems to work gangbusters for me.

His September 13th 2008 entry deals with a very interesting cheating event (scandal?) in the news from June regarding the GMAT exam, and the body that governs it, GMAC. Turns out some GMAT test takers 84 of them to be exact were found guilty of cheating and therefore, were having their test scores cancelled. To you and me this means its as if then that they never took the test.

And in now knowing that, you might find it even more interesting to note that at least some of those cheaters have already been admitted to one business school or another, and at least one has already graduated (at Stanford Business School!).

MacDonald further cites research that shows business school students are in fact more likely to cheat than other students, pointing to current research done at Rutgers. And here we are: what to do with the cheaters who have been caught.

Mr. MacDonald looks at the merits of harsh retribution or, gentle reprimand. Check him out:



Created by Demir Oral, a graduate of Saint Louis Universitys MIS program, postyourtest.com is NOT an avenue for cheating, but rather, an ecosystem where students and professors can opt to release test, quizzes, and general questions from courses for others to read on the Internet. The line between a tool for education and cheating can be a fine one, it seems.

Some students feel that testing their knowledge using exams from other institutions is a great way to prep. The kindest amongst us might say that this is a good way for instructors to improve the quality of their own question matter, by comparing what they are doing with others who have posted.

Test repository or moral ambiguity? You decide:


Plug city: Freaks and Cheats

A classic work of cheating economics of which I have only recently become aware is Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating, by Harvard economist Brian A. Jacob and Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt. The best-selling book by Levit and Stephen J. Dubner called Freakonomics features this study. I present now a well-worn quote from this book :

estimate that serious cases of teacher or administrator cheating on standardized tests occur in a minimum of 4-5 percent of elementary school classrooms annually. The observed frequency of cheating appears to respond strongly to relatively minor changes in incentives.

To translate: educators will participate in adult interference (cheating with or for the students) with very little prodding.

Testing this sort of thing is easy: if you suspect a teacher or group of teachers has been helping students to score better, you retest the students. This time you use impartial proctors. The, just grade the tests. If scores drop dramatically, congratulations, youve been punked, and cleaning things up usually involves some nasty employment decisions.

Fascinating reading folks:


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