Inside Higher Ed, The Proctor Is In:
Only 100 or so colleges maintain honor codes, which are thought to bolster integrity and trust among professors and students by involving the latter in the creation and enforcement of academic standards. When a campus culture values open and frequent discussion about when and why cheating is socially unacceptable, the thinking goes (and some research shows), students are less likely to flout the rules – and more likely to report their peers who do.
Except when they aren’t. Most traditional honor codes allow for unproctored exams, where the professor leaves the room and students are expected to report any cheating they observe. (Some even let students take the exam wherever they choose.) But the system is not working out so well at Middlebury College, where faculty members in economics will proctor their exams this spring semester.
The decision follows a not-exactly-glowing review of the state of Middlebury’s honor code, which found that peer reporting across the board “is largely nonexistent.”
The Middlebury Campus lamented the shift in an editorial, calling it “a shameful reminder of a broken system” and questioning why no students or professors are protesting the decision or pressing the importance of the honor code.
“The honor code is a part of the Middlebury brand. We love to point to the honor code as a demonstration of our integrity and the type of community we come from,” the editorial board wrote. “What, then, does it say about our future selves if we cannot expect integrity from our community members now?” ...
At Haverford College, meanwhile, reports of cheating have piled up to the point where students on the Honor Council, which administers the code and holds trials for violators, have been resigning due to an unmanageable workload. However, most violators there are being turned in by professors, the Haverford Clerk reported. The college is considering ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the council.
In recent years, more colleges have developed “modified honor codes,” which typically make unproctored exams optional and do not require students to report cheating they observe. To specifically address the peer proctoring issue, the Middlebury review suggests exploring a modified honor code that would not entail the student reporting requirement. ...
After 125 Harvard University students – 2 percent of the undergraduate population – were suspended for collaborating inappropriately on an economics exam in September 2012, campus officials floated the idea of an honor code to help combat cheating. The idea was not unprecedented on the campus, but after the incident prompted considerable public fallout, administrators got to work developing a code.