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Professor’s research on cheating sheds light on Harvard scandal

September 10, 2012

  • Mollie Galloway, assistant professor of educational leadership at Lewis & Clark Graduate School

In recent research on cheating among affluent high schoolers, assistant professor Mollie Galloway found that over 93% had cheated in at least one way (such as copy answers, using electronics, or plagiarizing), while 25% had cheated in seven or more ways.

These findings may point to some of the causes of a recent scandal at Harvard University, in which 125 students are suspected of collaborating inappropriately on a take-home exam.

Ingrained cheating behavior seems to be especially high among students from privileged backgrounds, says Galloway.

“We live in a society where getting ahead of the next guy is a primary value. It’s what defines success in our country. Students feel caught up in this system where it requires them to sacrifice their integrity or do whatever they can to get ahead.”

Harvard officials say they are considering establishing an honor code. But Galloway says the systemic issues that led to this scandal are not easily solved by an honor code.

“The university should use this incident as an opportunity to go beyond honor codes and interrogate traditional Western notions of success in our institutions.”

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