Honour Your Self


High School Student Survey

The aim of education is the knowledge not of fact, but of values.

- Dean William R Inge

Every day across America, millions of students from middle school to medical school
face ethical quandaries - and research indicates that most choose to cheat.  In a
recent survey conducted by Who's Who Among American High School Students,
80% of high-achieving high-schoolers admitted to having cheated at least once; half
said they did not believe cheating was necessarily wrong.  Source: legacyofhope.com

by Gisele Durham

Study finds widespread lying, cheating among teens

Los Angeles, California - The nation's high school students lie a lot, cheat a lot, and many show up for class drunk, according to preliminary results of a nationwide teen character study released Monday.  Seven in 10 students surveyed admitted cheating on a test at least once in the past year, and nearly half said they had done so more than once, according to the nonprofit Joseph & Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics.  "This data reveals a hole in the moral ozone," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Marina Del Rey-based organisation.

On the other hand, the results were not significantly worse than on the last test in 1998 - the first time that has happened since the group began testing in 1992.  "The good news appears that it's peaked," Josephson said.  "The bad news is that it's horribly high."

The Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth found that 92% of the 8,600 students surveyed lied to their parents in the past year; 78% said they had lied to a teacher, and more than 25% said they would lie to get a job.  Nearly 1 in 6 students said they had shown up for class drunk at least once in the past year; 68% admitted they hit someone because they were angry.  Nearly half said they could get a gun if they wanted to.

Josephson said the results amounted to the formula for a "toxic cocktail."  This, he said, was "kids who think it's okay to hit someone when they're angry, who may be drunk at school when they do it and who can also get their hands on a gun."

Josephson stopped short of assigning blame to a particular group, but he said parents, teachers and coaches need to pay special attention because they have the most significant interactions with youngsters.  "I'm not saying there aren't some out there doing their best," he said.  "But if all three were doing their best, we wouldn't have this problem."

The survey, conducted this year, involved students in grades 9 through 12 in both public and private schools.  Participating schools handed out surveys with 57 questions that students could submit anonymously.  The results had a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.  The high school results, along with those for middle schools, will be included in a series of 3 finals reports to be released later this year.

On the net, the Institute site is at charactercounts.org

Source: SF Gate News 16 October 2000; Gisele Durham is an Associated Press writer in the Breaking News section

See also:

bulletFraud is Everywhere - It was claimed that the unrealistically high interest rates were backed by solid, blue-chip banks.  Meaningless but impressive-sounding jargon was used to con the unwary investors into handing over their money - expressions such as prime bank guarantees, global mid-term investment notes, 106% bank guarantees and a 46 week bank year...
bulletNot So Different - (a cartoon)

History Exam - A Dollar A Point

A professor gave a final Grade 12 History test to his students.  Once the test was over, the students all handed it back in.  The professor noticed that one of the students had stapled a $100 bill to his test with a note that read, "A dollar a point."  The next day, the professor handed out the results, and the student who’d tried to bribe him got back his test and $70 in change.

Digital Age Cheats Us of Honour

People buy immeasurable loads of bullshit for the illusion of security.  We believe security comes from principles and from controlling other people, but security doesn't exist.  The only security we have is the ability to fly by the seat of our pants.

- Brad Blanton
Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth

by Robert S Boynton

When I read about the plagiarism scandal at the University of Virginia, I was struck by how much attitudes had changed - about intellectual property, about honour codes - in the relatively short period between my time as a Haverford College student and my taking a position as an NYU professor.  The essentials of a university education aren't much different than they were in the mid-1980s, but students' assumptions about the nature of information (also known as knowledge) are.  We are witnessing a Napsterisation of knowledge - the notion that ideas (like music) are little more than disembodied entities, "out there" in the ether, to be appropriated electronically in any way users wish.

In early May, 122 students at the University of Virginia who had taken Physics 105 and 106 (an extremely popular "physics for poets" course called "How Things Work") over the past five semesters were accused of cheating on their term papers, emailing each other passages or copying papers from previous students.  Following reports of increased electronic cheating at high schools and colleges across the country, news that their professor, Louis Bloomfield, had written a software program to ferret out cheaters was portrayed as a cyber-age cautionary tale: having grown tired of their children's clever tricks, adults were in charge again.  But the debate surrounding the scandal obscured something fundamental about an honour code that is in place at about 100 colleges of the 3,500 nationwide.  The emphasis was on the ineffectiveness of the University of Virginia's anachronistic code rather than the moral question of the students' honour.

I attended a private New York City high school in the pre-pre-Internet era, where cheating was fairly common and a healthy portion of every senior class was shuttled off to Ivy League colleges.  Although we received an excellent education, almost nothing was ever said about the reason for learning.  The implication was clear: knowledge was a means to an end, rarely an end in itself.  After high school, I majored in philosophy and theology at Haverford in Pennsylvania, where the honour code has been in force since 1896.  It was a simple bargain.  In return for promising to act responsibly, we were afforded an extraordinary amount of freedom: self-scheduled, unsupervised exams; the trust of our professors.

The honour code had a profound effect on my view of intellectual life.  At Haverford, the lack of supervision made the possibility of cheating so easy that cheating didn't make sense; I worked harder than ever before.  The honour code helped clarify my choices: I could either cut corners, cheat and lead an inauthentic life or discover what was possible when motivation was completely internal.  Which isn't to say that an honour code is an abstraction; it has serious consequences for a community.  The question of precisely how it should be enforced is always lurking in the shadows.  At Haverford, the most vigourous disagreement was over the code's stipulation that a student had violated it if he witnesses an infraction without confronting the violator.

Was the responsibility to confront fellow students part of the honour code or a clever way for the Haverford administration to fob off that responsibility on us?  The University of Virginia's recent scandal brings this paradox to the foreground.  If professors have a foolproof way of catching cheating students, what is the point of having an honour code?

Technologically, cheating has become much easier.  All it takes is a few mouse clicks.  But copying is still copying.  The words you present come from you or from someone else.  All the technology in the world will never change that.

What has changed is students' attitude toward intellectual property.  If so much information is only a click away, why shouldn't a student cut and paste his way to an A?  I can't keep track of the times I've been asked whether textual citations or footnotes are "required" in research papers.  And this comes from the conscientious, confused students who simply don't understand what the standards for honourable work are.  They've grown up listening to "free" MP3 files; studying copyrighted articles their teachers photocopy and distribute without permission and buying bootlegged videos on the street.

It is no mystery why students at places like the University of Virginia find themselves in a dilemma.  The information genie is out of the bottle.  The students who violated the university's code - no less than the professors trying to thwart them - are missing the point.  An honour code is not a surveillance mechanism but a tradition that demands and expects the kind of self-scrutiny that a true scholar practices.

Robert S Boynton, who teaches magazine journalism at New York University, has written for the New Yorker, Lingua Franca and The Nation.  This essay appeared in the Washington Post.

Source: The Star-Ledger (Morris County New Jersey edition) Friday 8 June 2001

I see that Boynton didn't exactly answer the question "Was the responsibility to confront fellow students part of the honour code...?"  Perhaps each of us must answer that question for ourselves?  If you are a student planning to join a large corporation after graduating, you should see also:

bulletThe page on Whistleblowing, especially the 2nd article on "Corporate Culture: Poison for Whistleblowers".

Ethically Speaking on College Campuses

Morality is a private and costly luxury.

- Henry B Adams

by Cynthia Barnett

Marissa Lee came to Shaw University last year adamantly pro-choice.  She ignored those who didn't share her view.  They were simply wrong.  But after taking 3 required ethics courses, Lee has changed her mind.  Not about abortion: about the people who oppose it.  "The classes really make you think about other viewpoints," the 19-year-old from Cleveland said.  "I have a lot more compassion for the other side."

Helping students to hone their own moral values and to respect others' are two goals behind Shaw's mandatory 9-hour ethics curriculum.  With that unusual graduation requirement, 5 ethicists on the 84-member faculty, and two major grants to work on preparing students for nonprofit work, the historically black university in downtown Raleigh is building a reputation as a regional leader in moral education.  "They are pioneers," said Elizabeth Kiss, director of the Kenan Ethics Program at Duke University.

Five years ago, in a speech that blamed universities in part for an American "crisis of values and breakdown of personal and social morality," Shaw University President Talbert O Shaw - himself an ethicist - announced the coursework requirement and a new "values agenda" for the campus.  While the university has Baptist ties, its moral education has more to do with Socrates than with Scripture.

"The real function of an academic institution is the development of character," Shaw said in an interview.  "Universities had lost that element.  But I believe we have found it again."

Other universities are trying to find it too, Kiss said.  "There is a general rethinking of what it is universities and colleges should be teaching, and what it is we want to ensure students have exposure to," she said.

At Princeton, that has meant a mandatory ethics course beginning with the class of 2000.  A committee reviewing the curriculum at Duke, and another plotting new freshman seminars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are considering similar requirements.  North Carolina Central has determined that mandatory community service - students must log 120 hours of volunteer work to graduate - is the best way to teach values.  "Every institution is having to decide how to deal with ethics and morals, and with the development of character and values, within its own culture," said Beverly Washington Jones, director of Central's community service program.

Shaw University decided to go with some of the broadest ethics course requirements in the nation.  The curriculum begins with a class in basic moral philosophy and social ethics the first semester, digs into ethical issues from a multicultural perspective second semester, and ends with a class in professional ethics.  At the same time, Shaw is working on other ways to graduate students who want to go out and help others rather than go out and make money.

"The whole idea really is to try and rebuild a civil society," said Professor William Thurston, chairman of Shaw's Department of Religion and Philosophy and director of the university's Center for Ethics and Human Services.  The university has landed two grants to help that effort: it will share a $600,000 Kellogg grant with NCCU and High Point University to create a Southeast Center for Organizational Leadership, and it has received $22,000 from American Humanics to establish curriculum for a certificate in nonprofit leadership.  Eventually, Thurston said, the work could lead to bachelor's and master's programs in nonprofit management - a crucial need as programs meant to help people are shifting away from the government and into the private sector.

While Thurston and three other ethicists in the program are ordained ministers, the professors said their curriculum covers a broad range of literature, religion, science and philosophy.  "Do I hope to impact their character?  Yes, because that's what universities do," Professor James Kirkley said, with Bentham's theories of good and evil scrawled on a chalkboard behind him.  "Yes, I am concerned about their character, but I grade them on their academics."

Students said they're not exactly learning morality in class - they got that at home.  But they are thinking about values in a way they hadn't before.  "I learned my values from my people, but I think they are being brought out here," said Derrick Davis, 22, a sophomore from Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  Davis dreams of becoming an investor.  But not, he said, so he can heap up piles of money for himself.  "Instead of stepping on people to get their money, I want to show them how to be sitting pretty," he said.  "I want to help black people invest."

That is sweet music to his professors' ears.  "I would hope that we are helping students to not buy into the myths of America - 'Be whatever you want to be; whatever you earn you earn for yourself'," Professor Mike Broadway said.  "I would hope that our students would be more compassionate than that."

Source: The Raleigh News & Observer 16 March 1998 © Nando.net and Scripps Howard

See also:

bulletInmates Teach MBA Students Ethics from behind Bars - a trip to prison is mandatory for 2nd-year Maryland MBA students, part of an ethics class intended to puncture their sometimes sizable egos just weeks before they graduate and leap to the corporate world.  Maryland officials describe the 1-day prison field trip as a kind of "scared-straight" program for MBAs...
bulletThe Principle Idea - Morality, according to anthropologist Marvin Harris, is the acceptance of principled responsibility for the way in which one's actions (or lack of same) affect the well being of other members of the human species...
bulletStrategic Planning Session - Pay Attention or Pay! (a cartoon)
bulletTrusting One Another Is the Key to Success - A study in the latest issue of the Economic Journal finds that trust is closely related to a country's wealth and has a crucial impact on growth prospects...

Pupils Plagiarise So Much that We Receive Essays with Adverts Accidentally Copied from Internet, Say Teachers

by Sarah Harris

1 in 3 teachers surveyed
believe almost
½ of all work
handed in may have been
copied from internet sites

Plagiarism is now so common among 6th formers that teachers are receiving identical essays from pupils - some still including adverts accidentally copied from the internet.  More than half of teachers believe that plagiarism is a major problem among A-level pupils, a teaching union warned.  They suspect that students copy much of their work from the internet and often do not understand what counts as legitimate research.  The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) questioned around 300 teachers in school 6th forms, 6th form colleges and further education colleges.  It found that 58% believe internet plagiarism is an issue, fearing that more than a quarter of work handed in includes material copied from internet sites.

bulletGill Bullen, a teacher from Itchen College in Southampton, said: "Two GCSE English retake students were very late in handing in an essay on Romeo and Juliet.  When finally given in, their pieces turned out to be identical - and significantly better than either of them could have done.  Not only that, the essays didn't match the title question I had set."
bulletAnother teacher from Leeds said: "I had one piece of work so blatantly cut and pasted that it still contained adverts from the web page."
bulletConnie Robinson, from Stockton Riverside College, Stockton on Tees, added: "With less able students it is easy to spot plagiarism as the writing style changes mid-assignment.  But with more able students it is sometimes necessary for tutors to carry out internet research to identify the source of the plagiarism."

55% claimed students lack a clear understanding of what is plagiarism and what is legitimate research.  Diana Baker, from Emmanuel College in Durham, said: "I have found once students clearly understand what plagiarism is and how to reference correctly so they can draw on published works, plagiarism becomes less of a problem."  More than 90% said they were worried about the effect of plagiarism on students' long-term prospects, a view endorsed by Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL.  She said: "This survey highlights one of the risks of putting so much emphasis on passing tests and getting high scores at any cost.  Long term, pupils are the real losers because they lack the skills they appear to have."

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has already revealed that GCSE students will face tighter controls on coursework and harder exam questions in a bid to stamp out cheating.

Source: dailymail.co.uk18 January 2008 photo © REX

University Students "Don't Know It Is Wrong to Plagiarise the Work of Others"

Undergraduates Could Face Compulsory Courses in How to Avoid Cheating Amid Spiralling Plagiarism Problems

Unaware: Undergraduates could be made to take courses
 to learn the importance of avoiding plagiarism

by Sarah Harris

Experts claim that many first year students are arriving without knowing the importance of crediting their sources properly.  This is because schools are failing to teach teenagers that it is wrong to plagiarise other people's work.  The Government has already attempting to clampdown on this problem by introducing tighter controls on GCSE coursework and harder exam questions to stop internet cheats.  But Adrian Slater, legal adviser at Leeds University, has warned that compulsory training in how to avoid plagiarism could become a key feature of university education over the next decade.

Speaking at a conference of student complaints ombudsmen at Canary Wharf, east London, Mr Slater said undergraduates now have access to a vast range of material on the internet.  He said: "So much more material is available these days.  I think it is a growing issue but nobody knows.  It's often said that schools do a very poor job of equipping students coming to university to deal with plagiarism issues.  Most universities would want them to do a lot more so that when they come to university, students already have a real sense of what plagiarism is.  Often there is a sense that they don't really understand the issues.  My perception is that schools don't make it a priority, whereas when it comes to university it takes a higher priority and that is a bit of struggle for many students.  I think they should be getting more training."

He said it was important for either schools or universities to offer training to students in how to reference their sources.  In 10 years' time such training could be compulsory in many universities, he said.  Mr Slater told delegates at the conference that many universities had problems with students from overseas.  "Students and academics from abroad will sometimes come with a different understanding of what plagiarism is," he said.  "Some will come with no understanding of what plagiarism is."

Universities have been targeting international students from outside the European Union, who are not eligible for subsidised tuition fees, to boost their income, with China seen as a key market.  But Professor Ouyang Huhua, from Guandong University of Foreign Studies in China, told the seminar that Chinese culture took a completely different approach to quoting academic material from the West.  He said students were not expected to put forward their own "individualist" ideas in a "collective" society but instead memorise the work of an elite group of "sages".  There was no expectation for students to credit their such well known sources, he said.

Delegates told how UK university tutors struggled to explain to Chinese students the importance of proper referencing.

Meanwhile last July, the Government's exam watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, revealed that coursework was being scrapped in 9 academic subjects.  Maths coursework is being scrapped entirely, with all marks resting on written exams, while in the other subjects including English literature, history and geography - it will be replaced by "controlled assessments" from 2009.  Teachers will continue to mark their pupils' work but final results will come under tighter scrutiny from exam board moderators.

The shake-up came after a QCA report found that many pupils were cutting and pasting answers from the internet, asking their parents for help or using essay plans prepared by teachers.

Source: dailymail.co.uk 16 April 2008

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