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Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Harvard Prof: 'I Give Out 120 A's. Class Attendance is Not Mandatory'

Harvard LogoNew York Times, Harvard Students in Cheating Scandal Say Collaboration Was Accepted:

Harvard students suspected in a major cheating scandal said on Friday that many of the accusations are based on innocent — or at least tolerated — collaboration among students, and with help from graduate-student teachers who sometimes gave them answers to test questions.

Students said they were tripped up by a course whose tests were confusing, whose grading was inconsistent, and for which the professor and teaching assistants gave contradictory signals about what was expected. They face the possibility of a one-year suspension from Harvard or revocation of their diplomas if they have already graduated, and some said that they will sue the university if any serious punishment is meted out.

In years past, the course, Introduction to Congress, had a reputation as one of the easiest at Harvard College. Some of the 279 students who took it in the spring semester said that the teacher, Matthew B. Platt, an assistant professor of government, told them at the outset that he gave high grades and that neither attending his lectures nor the discussion sessions with graduate teaching fellows was mandatory. "He said, 'I gave out 120 A’s last year, and I’ll give out 120 more,'" one accused student said.

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This is whats wrong with higher ed. 120 As? Look at the CV of the professor, Ph.D from Rochester? One award and its from the association of black political scientists? This guy shouldnt be AT harvard

Posted by: TT | Sep 2, 2012 7:21:42 AM

"Students said that they were trapped in a course that was . . . confusing . . . inconsistent . . . and contradictory . . ."

This bodes very well for their ability to cope with adult life.

Posted by: michael livingston | Sep 2, 2012 8:43:35 AM

Law profs who don't think this sort of thing happens when they assign take-home exams are delusional.

Posted by: GU | Sep 2, 2012 9:37:08 AM

Having the students sign an 'honor code' statement provides me with plausible deniability.

And I don’t require attendance either….They are paying $3500/class – its up to them to decide how much they want to get out of it.

Posted by: Prof D | Sep 4, 2012 6:59:14 AM