Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cheating in Law School

As final exams loom, a NYT article on alleged cheating at Columbia's School of Journalism caught my eye. The report indicates that students were assigned a take home exam, and, once downloaded, were given 90 minutes to complete the exam. Apparently one student described the essay question to another, thereby giving the recipient of the information additional time to work out a response.

My law school, like many others (I believe), permits take-home final exams as well. This system was implemented last year, and it permits (at the professor's election) students to self-schedule exams, giving them the privilege to space exams more effectively and efficiently than the school possibly could (i.e., it is much less common to hear of students with 2 exams within 36 hours of each other). Students are quite obviously prohibited from discussing the exams with other students until the end of the examination period. I have not heard of any students cheating this system, and I am proud that school administrators recognized the professionalism of law students, and granted this privilege.

But I sometimes wonder -- how faithful are students to this principle? Does anyone have any knowledge/experience/references on the efficacy of honor systems in law schools as they relate to take-home examinations? I tend to believe that the risk of cheating is outweighed by the benefits of student autonomy to schedule exams and deterred by the likelihood of an ethical student reporting such activity.

Best of luck on exams to the First Movers community!


Blogger Anthony Ciolli said...

Some previous discussion of this topic:

12/03/2006 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a joke. of course people are cheating, and if you're not you're not trying hard enough. Law school will teach you one thing, and that is to maximize potential of anything, a first year exam, an expert witness, a non-discovery document that seals your case, and to grad a consensus from your fiends in law school. Likely the same friends that will be deciding the lives of people over a six pack and 18 holes at the country club you wont be invited to. wake the fuck up. the legal system is just as corrupt as any other.

4/18/2008 3:14 AM  

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