200 Students Admit To 'Cheating' On Exam… But Bigger Question Is If It Was Really Cheating Or Studying

from the wait-a-second... dept

A friend passed on this Telegraph story about how 200 students in a Strategic Management class at the University of Central Florida came forward to admit to “cheating” on the midterm exam after the professor in the class, Richard Quinn, gave a lecture where he noted the evidence that about 1/3 of the 600 student class had “cheated” on the exam. He then gave them an option: saying that, if they admitted to cheating within a week,re they would be able to complete the class and the incident would not go on their record and they would not face discipline (they also had to take an ethics class). If they did not, and they were still caught, then they could face expulsion for violating academic integrity policies. You can watch the video of the lecture here:

Not surprisingly, the story of 200 students “turning themselves over” made all sorts of headlines. It’s a good story of “cheaters” being pressured into ‘fessing up… right? It’s leading to typical hand-wringing stories about what should we do about cheating in schools. But, as I watched the video, the whole thing started to feel just a little bit off… My main interest was to learn two things: (1) what the students did to cheat and (2) how the professor was identifying who cheated. Both points seemed like pertinent details.

The answer to that first one surprised me. The “cheating” was that students got their hands on the textbook publisher’s “testbank” of questions. Many publishers have a testbank that professors can use as sample test questions. But watching Quinn’s video, it became clear that in accusing his students of “cheating” he was really admitting that he wasn’t actually writing his own tests, but merely pulling questions from a testbank. That struck me as odd — and I wasn’t really sure that what the students did should count as cheating. Taking “sample tests” is a very good way to learn material, and going through a testbank is a good way to practice “sample” questions. It seemed like the bigger issue wasn’t what the students did… but what the professor did.

In looking around, it looks like a lot of the students agree. They’re saying that the real issue is that Prof. Quinn simply copied questions from the publisher, rather than actually recreating his own test, and noting that this seems like a massive double standard. The professor is allowed to just copy questions from others for his tests? In fact, some of the students have put together a video pointing out that, at the beginning of the year, Prof. Quinn claimed that he had written the test questions himself. As the article notes:

Can the UCF students be blamed for using all the available tools to study for the test? How were the students to know that Quinn would take his questions from the test bank, when he explicitly said that professors do not do so any more? Moreover, why did Quinn tell his students that he is the one who creates the mid-term and final exams, when in fact it wasn?t so?

The students have put together a video pointing out where he said (in the first lecture) that he writes the questions himself:

The local student news operation sent a reporter to speak to Quinn and ask him about the double standard and his copying of questions, and Quinn totally ignored him:

Now, there’s a pretty good chance that some of the students probably knew that Quinn was a lazy professor, who just used testbank questions, rather than writing his own. That’s the kind of information that tends to get around. But it’s still not clear that using testbank questions to study is really an ethical lapse. Taking sample tests is a good way to practice for an exam and to learn the subject matter. And while those 200 students “confessed,” it seems like they did so mainly to avoid getting kicked out of school — not because they really feel they did anything wrong — and I might have to agree with them.

We’ve seen plenty of stories over the years about professors trying to keep up with modern technology — and I recognize that it’s difficult to keep creating new exams for classes. But in this case, it looks like Prof. Quinn barely created anything at all. He just pulled questions from a source that the students had access to as well and copied them verbatim. It would seem that, even if you think the students did wrong here, the Professor was equally negligent. Will he have to sit through an ethics class too?

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Comments on “200 Students Admit To 'Cheating' On Exam… But Bigger Question Is If It Was Really Cheating Or Studying”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Based on this write up, I would say that unless the students were told not to review the Testbank version, they didn’t cheat, in fact, I would commend them for finding unique ways to prepare for the tests.

Of course, if they were told that using Testbank for studying was against the rules, then I would consider that cheating.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No way. Even if the professor explicitly told them not to use the testbank why would that make it cheating? It’s a publicly available resource. It may be INTENDED for use by teachers, but banning them from using that resource is like banning them from talking to students who had already taken the class (good luck with that) or banning them from using alternative study guides other than what he has provided in class.

It might muddy the waters a little, but I still wouldn’t consider it cheating.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

the rules need to be reasonable and valid.

if the professor had said, “don’t study any previous quizzes or tests i’ve given you this term,” would that be reasonable? hardly, and, from appearances, he didn’t say, “don’t use the textbank.” he just expected the students not to look for study aids.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The only real problem I have with this idea is that it is not a fair playing field in that case.

In my opinion, the rules should be overlooked and stupid rules like this one should not removed for everyone, rather than allowing the students to use their own judgement as to whether or not any particular rule is worthy of being followed.

Philip (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Ah, a fair playing field. Outside that is where we find the good students vs the okay ones. Nothing in life is a fairly played field. If one student is more resourceful than another, should we really be blaming the resourceful student?

I agree with SteelWolf; the purpose of the courses is learning the material. If a students can learn it better by using publicly available practice tests, so be it. They are learning, and that’s the whole point here.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

technically correct, but i would argue that such rules have to be enforceable. i don’t think that simply saying, “don’t study from this book because it will help you pass the test,” and then trusting students not to do something that benefits their GPA and increases their knowledge is absurd and goes against their whole reason for being in the class.

if they came into possession of the “official” testbank by legally or ethically questionable means, then i would concede that it’s probably cheating (certainly if they did something illegal), but i’m willing to be that he’s done this before if he routinely has classes of this size. using questions and answers from previous tests to study (or memorize) for an upcoming test wouldn’t be cheating.

i guess it more comes down to right and wrong (also doesn’t determine whether it’s considered cheating or not), and what instructions the professor gave his students. i doubt he gave them a list of what could and couldn’t be studied, but he might start doing so now…

SteelWolf (profile) says:

Re: Interesting way to test the students

Indeed, it’s a real trade-off. Either the class is too big or professors don’t want to take the time to hand-grade written tests, so they go with multiple choice/Scantron formats. The best way to prepare for those kinds of tests is by going over old questions, which is what smart students are going to do.

Michael (profile) says:

Not all that surprising

I had some good professors and some bad professors in school. I certainly had some that simply recycled questions directly from the book publishers. Sadly, those were the classes in which I learned the least. I never had to think – even without looking up the questions and answers – all of the questions were based on the textbooks rather than forcing you to look elsewhere or go through your own thought process.

I really hope the school does something about this guy.

Ryan says:

Re: Not all that surprising

Those were the ones I learned the most – or, they didn’t necessarily recycle from the textbook but provided us the answers and then deviated little from them when testing.

Because the point shouldn’t be to give you a difficult test; it should be to make it easy to learn. When you can see exactly how an answer is reached and then forced to adapt to subtle modifications, it’s very easy to see exactly how everything works.

If you’re going to make it hard and force me to come up with everything on my own before I’ve learned it, then there’s really no point at all in paying several hundred bucks to take the class.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

That's not cheating

So the students in question took a readily available tool and used it to study. I fail to see hoe that’s cheating even if they memorized every word of the questions and answers (which I must assume they did if he could somehow identify the cheaters). This is something the teacher knew was out there, and he should have known that students could obtain it easily enough. Even if he had created his own questions, memorizing the ones in the testbank would allow them to apply similar techniques to anything he put on the test.

The professor’s argument is the same as if somebody said, “i pull my mid-term and finals questions from pop quizzes and random questions from the book,” and then expecting the students NOT to go back and review every pop quiz and book question they saw. I went to UCF (go, knights!) and actually had a professor tell us that that was how he built tests, and then he told us we should be sure to study those questions in order to do well.

It’s not cheating. It’s good preparation.

Usually I’m proud to see my alma mater make headlines (lots of good research coming out of UCF), but not so much this time. Though I would like to know how he determined who had cheated and who hadn’t (I haven’t been able to watch the video yet).

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Let's define "Ethics"

Ethics: the study of what is right or wrong based upon morals or social custom.

Morals: of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong. Also, virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.

Hmmm, a little circle there. Let’s see… how about “Social Custom”?

Social Custom: This sociological term has been defined as “the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit.

This is a very gray area.

Did any of the students have sex for the answers? Actually, never mind that.

Near as I can figure, ethics (whatever) means “it’s wrong because everybody says it’s wrong” which means ethics are amazing fluid, based solely upon the herd-response of the nearest humans, and have no basis in things like physics.

_sigh_ Guess I’ll have to add ethics to the list of make-believe things I no longer believe in.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's define "Ethics"

actually, one can do fun things with all the possible values of ‘exist’. by some ethics do. Their existence is more … real?… than unicorns, for example, which do exist: as a mythical creature in various contexts, and a real creature in some fiction.

(seriously, i had this issue come up in a conversation about God on a fairly serious site which was focusing on philosophy and such… ‘existence’ has layers of meaning. you’re using ‘real’ to specify one, but it doesn’t Exclude it from existing. of course, they’re certainly not a physical, tangible object, but neither are emotions, exactly. )

none of which is terribly important because i suspect most people got your point.

tess the tyrant says:

Re: Let's define "Ethics"

You should take an ethics course if you can, a most modern ethical theories are not merely based on what the majority feels is right or wrong. In fact, the people who consist of that majority are using ethics themselves to determine why that thing is right or wrong… not feeding off the majority, since in order for a majority mentality of ethics to be established, people must establish them individually. Wikipedia surprisingly has great pages on the dominant ethical theories of the day: Utilitarianism, Deontology and Virtue Ethics.

Karl (profile) says:

Students are all right by me

I’m definitely with the students on this one. If a person uses a “testbank” to learn on his own, he should be commended, not reprimanded.

I’m actually going back to college in the spring. My roommate already took some of the math classes, and I’m reading through his books to prepare. I had no idea I was cheating! I must stop all this “learning” right this instant!

MrWilson says:

Re: Students are all right by me

In college, I was a teaching assistant for an instructor who taught the course from the text. He used powerpoint presentations from the publisher. He used test banks from the publisher. He even distributed the publisher’s suggestions for how the instructor should teach the class to the students.

He wasn’t the only instructor that I encountered who did this.

For many textbooks, if you google the exact wording of one of the test questions, you can find answer keys pretty easily. Often times, you find them cached by Google from where an instructor of a course posted the answer key to a publicly-accessible website after his students finished the test.

It’s an interesting contract to the model of education that you may have been expecting. You think that instructors are hired because they are subject matter experts who also have a gift for teaching, but more often than not in my experience, they are failed or retired refugees from their respective fields who are too lazy to write their own curriculum and course material and too unwilling to learn anything new.

Anonymous Coward says:

Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

This is what happens when we have a generation of teachers that teach to the test. Amazing.

Maybe Professor Quinn would be better suited leaving UCF for a position that pays out of the “No Child Left Behind” budget. Then he could be a developer of better standardized tests!

The alternative is that he returns to the Socratic method to measure mastery of the concepts. Regardless of what is now questionable quality of the questions used, he should try harder to write his own questions based on the concepts taught. Being a professor of Strategic Management, he should already know a little about Control Theory. If he can produce results showing mastery of Control Theory, he would be up for a promotion. Here’s a wikipedia primer worth looking at:


Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

Interesting, I was going to bring up both of the points you hit upon:

“The alternative is that he returns to the Socratic method to measure mastery of the concepts. Regardless of what is now questionable quality of the questions used, he should try harder to write his own questions based on the concepts taught. Being a professor of Strategic Management, he should already know a little about Control Theory. If he can produce results showing mastery of Control Theory, he would be up for a promotion. Here’s a wikipedia primer worth looking at: “

Ah, but I believe with the Socratic method the STUDENTS should be the ones to come up with the questions asked, which is actually a REALLY good way for an entire class to learn, since you get all kinds of different viewpoints and input. What if the professor, who clearly doesn’t want to be bothered to write his own tests, had each student submit one test question based on the material and chose the best ones to include in the test?

And, with regard to Control Theory, I’m kind of surprised that he didn’t remember the lessons of Modern Control Theory, that adaptive routes are always the best way to approach solutions to problems. The kids adapted to the way he tested. Now he should be adapting to their adaptation, and so on, and so on….

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

“What if the professor, who clearly doesn’t want to be bothered to write his own tests, had each student submit one test question based on the material and chose the best ones to include in the test?”

there is a flaw there. if he did that, then the students could share the questions they came up with, and that would be cheating! and he’d also have to read all those questions and make a decision on which were the best. that’s hard work!

iNtrigued (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

Thus they would be learning through crowdsourcing (keyword Learning). And if that would be considered cheating then I guess forming study groups is also cheating. Plus, not every question would be on the test and the teacher should supply at least half of the questions (which still may be too much work for this particular teacher unfortunately).

On a side note, I am not sure about FL but here in VA there are some professors making $+100K a year (not counting side jobs). For that kind of money the professors damn well better be making their own tests!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

I don’t disagree with you. This makes the most sense, but the notion of using testbank to generate standardized tests from the textbook publisher doesn’t easily allow for a student-generated test. To add, 600 students is way too many students for one professor to accomplish what is proposed.

What it does accomplish over several iterations, is an environment where administering a standard test and also teaching to the test is preferred.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Demonstrated example: Bad application of Control Theory in strategic management

“To add, 600 students is way too many students for one professor to accomplish what is proposed. “

If the teacher has to write 50 questions, what’s the difference between 50 questions written for 50 students and 50 questions written for 400 students?

out_of_the_blue says:

Education is generally fraud, a few "facts" to memorize.

Instead of integrating knowledge and making connections. It’s dumbening by way of narrow specialization, and then these specialists take the view that anyone not steeped in their own area is a complete idiot. Especially visible in IT, where those with “MCSE” certificates think that knowing how to patch up M$ software is computer science. — But I digress.

YES, it’s cheating. Professor cheating students, and students cheating on the test, and “Strategic Management” being to learn how to cheat workers to get an easy living by grifting.

graduate student says:

I’ve had some horrible professors, but all of them did us the courtesy of not accusing us of cheating for using old materials from the same class to study or any other resources we legally procured.

Having and using old tests to study is not against our university’s rules and the dean of engineering here even suggests people use them to study if they can find them. It’s not our fault if professors are lazy.

Joshua Howe (profile) says:

Okay, Quinn pushed the truth about creating the test, but using the test bank is cheating.

Test banks are not study guides or sample questions, they’re used to generate unique electronic tests for each test taker. So the exam may only be 50 questions, but the bank has 500 questions. So person A is sitting next to person B, both running the test electronically. Each could have a unique test because the system is pulling their questions from the bank, rather than following the same structure for each student.

Of course this is cheating. It is available to instructors. This is why Ebay prevents selling of instructor manuals, they’re intended for instructors. Quinn’s laziness in not creating his own questions does not detract from the fact that they used material not intended for students. You can’t expect an instructor to explicitly state every way that you’re not supposed to cheat.

JH says:

Re: Re:

“. So the exam may only be 50 questions, but the bank has 500 questions”

If the review of the study guide was prohibited by any school or class rules then I would agree that this is cheating. However, if a student goes through all the trouble of learning the answers to 500 questions in preparation for a 50 question test I’d say they would have a pretty good grip on the material at that point. This sounds an awful lot like proper studying to me. I’ve been given study guides by professors more precise then that.

Nate says:

Re: Re:

Did they bring those questions in with them as a reference during the test? Or did they study the material beforehand? The question and its answer should be something that were covered in the class, albeit abstracted, and hence “available to students.”

Especially because there were a bank of questions, the students had no foreknowledge of which questions would be presented. If they didn’t know which questions were on the test, then even the claim that they were cheating by skirting the scope of the class and studying selectively fails to hold up.

DocMenach (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Test banks are not study guides or sample questions, they’re used to generate unique electronic tests for each test taker. So the exam may only be 50 questions, but the bank has 500 questions…
…Of course this is cheating. It is available to instructors. This is why Ebay prevents selling of instructor manuals, they’re intended for instructors.

That is ridiculous logic. First off, if a student who was preparing for a 50 question test studied enough to have a mastery of all 500 questions, then that student obviously deserves to do well on the test, and I can’t think of how that would be cheating (unless he used a crib sheet or something). Second, security by obscurity (saying that the materials are only available to instructors) is the poorest security possible.

The fact of the matter is that the professor was lazy and chose to make his test without modification from a source that was easily accessible. He then decided to blame the students for his own poor judgment.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Students are meant to implicitly “understand” that studying Material A is allowed, but studying Material B is cheating?

If you get an email entitled “Study Guide!” and in it are 700 sample questions related to the material, should you use it to study or not? (And no asking anyone about it either! You should “just know”, according to you.)

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Not really. He’s pointing out an actual flaw in the idea.

You, however, apparently don’t have an answer you understand well enough to explain. Which doesn’t make you a moron, but does make it likely you are at least partially wrong, or at least need to think about it.

Calling other people names for raising valid issues with your logic does not do wonders for other people’s estimation of the validity of your opinion, however.

Sean (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

To state that every single kind of way one could possibly cheat should be outlined in a policy is naive. When electronic devices like a Palm first became available, it would have been cheating to fill the thing with potential test answers even if the policy didn’t state that electronic devices couldn’t be used to cheat.

There are more ways to cheat than can be specifically stated in any reasonable policy.

zaven (profile) says:

Personal Experience

So this reminds me of something that happened to me when I was in college, except the teacher never called us out on it. I took an Operating Systems class (considered one of the most difficult in the school) and for our midterm, we kept asking our teacher for sample questions to prepare but he never gave them to us. Eventually, I asked a friend who took the class the previous semester for his exam and distributed it to the whole class (I don’t believe in curved grading so helping everyone in the class is never a concern to me and never should be).

A lot of the students prepared for the exam expecting similar questions to the previous semester and diligently learned from the “sample” exam I provided. Day of the exam, our professor gives us our exam and it’s the EXACT same exam as the previous semester with the numbers mixed around. Needless to say the whole class did very well (class avg was around 85%).

Come time for the final, our prof made the second exam completely different from the previous one, realizing his mistake.

Decline (profile) says:

“rather than actually recreating his own test, and noting that this seems like a massive double standard. The professor is allowed to just copy questions from others for his tests?”

I’m pretty much with the students on this one but I don’t see the double standard here.
The professor isn’t being tested on his ability to think up a test, he just has to administer it. And the questions he used he is apparently allowed to use, they are supplied for him to use. Sure he lied in saying he makes his own, at least in this case, but it isn’t a double standard.

Raj Patel (user link) says:


I did this all through grad school and undergrad, and even in highschool – looking at old exams, and old tests in order to prepare for upcoming ones. If the professor is too lazy to do his job it’s not the student’s fault. Part of studying is learning what to study by looking at the history of what you’re studying for.

He’s just mad because he’s been busted recycling rather than working.

Ben says:

Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

Many of you are making the erroneous assumption that the publisher’s test bank is publicly available, it is not. The test bank is only available to instructors registered with the publisher and using their product to teach / test. In order for a student to get their hands on the test bank someone would have had to have either leaked the test bank (most likely in violation of their terms of agreement) or it would have to have been obtained without permission (e.g. exploitation of a security flaw in the system holding the test bank).

Either way, there is an issue with this and it is cheating. Whether you think the professor is lazy for purchasing a teaching suite that included a test bank or not has nothing to do with the question of cheating.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

i’m not so sure about it not being publicly available. hell, in high school they had teachers’ editions sitting on shelves, and in college (at UCF) i had access to test banks in a few of my courses.

but even so, there were professors who recycled the same 1-3 tests every term. if this guy did the same thing (wouldn’t be surprising), then the testbank is now publicly available anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

Yeah if he had been using this test bank to create exams for a few years you could probably gather a hand full of the actual exams and have a pretty complete test bank without actually stealing anything from the publishers.

I don’t see how they could tell the difference between someone who studied previous test versions and someone who actually had the publishers full test bank in hand.

Benny6Toes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

you might not even need a few years. you could do it in a single term depending on how he constructs his tests. if he is quick to turn graded tests back to students (i had one or two professors who would give us mid-term and final grades and return our tests within two days), then you could collect a number of questions and answers in the same week (assuming more than one section of the course is taught by the same professor).

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

You’re ignoring the part where you effectively told them he wasn’t using test bank questions.

I hope these students learned the most valuable lesson from this class: “Those in power, lie and get away with it, usually at great detriment to you.”

Based on what I have read and viewed, University of Central Florida Professor Richard Quinn is an ethically defunct individual (liar).

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Glaringly Inaccurate Assumption

Someone probably did something unethical at some point, as you say. These 200 students probably did not. You really think each and every one of them separately broke into the publisher’s system and downloaded the test bank?

Somebody got it (we don’t know how) and posted it online. Probably some people who got it knew how it was obtained and knew it shouldn’t have been. Probably some didn’t.

pringerX (profile) says:

I saw this in the news a while back, and remember thinking the same thing. The prof didn’t expressly forbid using the testbank questions as a study guide, and didn’t bother to change the questions; also, the number of questions on the test was a fraction of those in the testbank. In all, this points to press sensationalism blowing things out of proportion.

Also, @out_of_the_blue, specialization in science is the norm because there is simply too much knowledge out there. The educational system is there to lay a foundation, from where you find your specialization in your work or graduate career. I wager knowing how to properly diagnose and service a Windows machine and preventing it from imploding is in fact a pretty admirable skill, and requires a pretty good understanding of computer science and the architecture of the MS operating system.

lux (profile) says:

It’s just more and more of this entitlement complex:

“Well, it was a publicly available resource, wah wahh!”

“It’s a double standard that the teacher copies his questions from the book, wahh wahh!

Firstly, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, or that you are ethically in the right to do so. So just because these students COULD access the testbank, with the foreknowledge that the Prof. would most likely uses the questions, ethically compromises there insight into the coming test. Most learning institutions realize this compromise, and whether they call it cheating, or just breaking the honor code, it needs to be dealt with.

Secondly, this teacher can teach whichever way he sees fit. I don’t agree with the fact that he takes questions word for word from the textbook, but it is his prerogative. So blaming the teacher for the students actions is probably more in line with the argument a second-grader would give.

Also, if these students truly felt what they did wasn’t wrong, then why did every single one of them admit to cheating? Don’t give me the line that the Prof. offered them an ultimatum – if these students firmly believed they were in the right, then they have nothing to hide and nothing to admit – but oh wait, they did do something, and they admitted to it.

Any Mouse says:

Re: Re:

You make so many assumptions that your argument sounds more like an excuse.

First, you assume the students had the foreknowledge that the instructor used the questions verbatim. Fact not in evidence.

Second, if he uses questions straight from the book, what should he expect? The students to hand in their books before the exam so they can’t study them?

Finally, stuff the ‘nothing to hide’ lines. That is a fallacy as you should be well aware of. You keep speaking of ethics as if you had a clue what you were talking about, but trotting that line out disproves you. A basic assumption after an ultimatum such as this is that ‘if I decide you were cheating, you will be expelled regardless of the evidence I have.’ You think they don’t do this? A professor’s word is quite often taken over that of a student, unless the student has legal representation and can prove their case.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Cheating

> with the foreknowledge that the Prof. would most likely uses
> the questions

He *told* them earlier in the semester that he *doesn’t* use the test bank questions. Why you think that means they had foreknowledge that he was going to do something he explicitly said he wouldn’t is beyond me.

The fact that he made this announcement completely exonerates the students from the “well, you should have known it was cheating” accusation.

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They admitted for the same reason innocent persons are coerced into taking a plea bargain.

No one is accused of taking his answer guide out of his briefcase. They studied from a resource. Just because the prof. thought the resource was not available to the student doesn’t make it cheating.

A test is supposed to test your knowledge of the material, but all it really does is test your ability to pass the test. The goal of a student taking a test is to answer the questions correctly. They did. I don’t see any cheating going on. In my opinion, the Prof. is upset because he got busted taking his test questions verbatim from another source.

Instructional Tech says:

re: coward & anonymous coward (21&22)

The proliferation of illegal use of materials does not make it any less illegal.

While the instructor may not have a real case, the textbook company now can subpoena the list of students and sue them for copyright infringement/violations. Simply stating “I didn’t know” would not save the student but may lessen the judgement against them should the lose such a suit.

It is no different than record companies suing people who illegally download music.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: re: coward & anonymous coward (21&22)


My college made the test banks available as a resource to students. We could go to the campus library, log in with our last names and the course number and student ID and utilize the resource.

We could print it off, take the tests, copy the questions. Since the same question was asked maybe 5 different ways, it helped us identify how a slight change in wording didn’t change the concept of the answer.

It was a great resource, it forced our professors to step up and know the material backwards and forwards and the classes where we were allowed to access the test banks? Were some of the most lively and fun because we all -got- the material, understood it and could debate the finer points of it in class.

I remember being in a Sociology class (once a week, 3 hour class from 6-9pm) and having a very intense debate about social mores and how they changed based on the region you were in. As the lone New Yorker in a predominantly Southern baptist school, it was fascinating. We moved on to other topics, with the teacher chiming in to ask an occasional question or steer us to a new topic.

Everyone participated. And at the end of the class that night, we were told that was our mid-term and we all scored 100.

Why could we discuss the information so easily and grasp the concepts so well? We had access to the test bank which helped us recognize the different ways concepts could be applied.

Did my class cheat? No. Did those students cheat? No.

spartansojouerner says:

Reason for Using Test Banks

As referred to above by one user, A test bank is usually only licensed direct from the publisher to a school and are not PUBLICLY available. If the professor made the test bank public to the students then shame on him, and if the students came by the test bank by another means then shame on them.

However, my real issue is in the assumptions many people are making about why the professor used the test bank. As a teacher, the main reason for using the test bank given by the publisher is to insure that the questions being asked are as fair as possible.

It is not uncommon for a professor to discuss and teach material in a different manner than is presented in the book and thus the way that professor would ask the question may vary greatly from the questions asked by the book. If the professor is asking students to answer questions from the book for homework then using test banks provided by the publisher helps to insure that the questions are asked in a way that the students are familiar with thus testing their ability to apply the information.

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Reason for Using Test Banks

A test only tests the student’s ability to correctly answer the test questions. The student’s job is to answer the test questions so they get the best score. The system is twisted so that learning is secondary to testing well. How sad.

I used to be a professional chef. In one of my earlier jobs, I worked with a grad of the Culinary Institute of America that thought he was entitles to an office at his first cooking job. He walked around making sure everyone saw his nice white chef coat with the CIA logo on it and the Cord en bleu medal around his neck, like that was supposed to get the food on the plates. He was fired the next day. (The dishwashers were making fun of him. Honestly! They were wearing the sink strainers around their necks like medals!) He passed his tests, but he couldn’t cook, and he couldn’t do any work at all, and he had never seen a real working kitchen in his life. But he graduated… The system is broken.

Mr Lazy says:


Screw tenure… it’s the worse thing to ever happen to the educational system.

He’s an obviously lazy teacher and needs to be put out to pasture.

He could as easily made the test all essays and problem solved… or… better yet… had 3 different copies of the test with different essays and handed them out randomly.

There’s no excuse for their laziness.

Berenerd (profile) says:

I have just started school again...

I am going for a degree in CIS. I am taking a class on writing DOS batches (yes I know…old school and boring but its required apparently) The professor requires you to be at every class to listen to her lectures which come directly from the book. She will not do any of the activities as you need to do them on your own. then has homework that was designed by the people who published the book (and by the way have no idea how to clearly word a question as this was writted for windows XP and most of the machines students have is windows 7. The computers in the lab have mostly windows Vista/windows 7 on them there is one lab of 15 computers which has XP on them The class have 400 students. I, out of the kindness of my heart (and with a wonderful donation of bandwidth and drive space) created some virtual machines with windows XP for student to connect to and do the homework from. I then confronted the professor with this fact and told her if she marks me off for not showing up for class when I can simply save time and read the book myself, she would have some serious issues with lawyers. All her tests are online via the publisher as well. I have so far gotten a perfect A in the course (in my eyes) but 60% of my grade is attendance so we will see where that goes. I have already talked face to face with the dean and my boss who approves my reimbursement for educational expenses) about this and they have both told me to keep doing what I am doing. I am 35 years old and have been in the IT field for over 10 years. This professor has been teaching at this college for 20+ years and I wont stand by watching her rip off kids and the government like she does.
This stuff pisses me off because its the kids that suffer. They don’t know any better, sure there are some who will rebel but few do because they don’t want to fail. I don’t care if she fails me. I also like to rebel a little, though when i first went to college in 93, I was the other side, not wanting to fail.

CHarlie Dahan (profile) says:

Re: Re: I have just started school again...

You might want to go to an online school, as a part of the traditional university experience is attending lectures. Also, a syllabus with the class rules is available by the first class and also you can contact the instructor before hand – if you don’t like the rules, you need to take it with a different instructor. There cannot be one set of rules for you and then one for everyone else.

darryl says:

"even if you think the students did wrong here, the Professor was equally negligent" Really Mike, in 'mikeworld' that might be the case..

Its quite simple Mike, You ARE cheating if you look up the answers, you are not cheating if you are looking up the questions.

This is not an exam to test the teacher, it was an exam to test the students.

It does not matter where the teacher got the questions from, or if he made them up or got them from a testbank. that is what teachers do..

What students are SUPPOSED to do, is be honest, and not look up question banks, or try to find out what the questions are before the exam.

They should be trying to find out what the answers are (by studying) and not what the questions are (by cheating).

And after all, if the students did not believe they were cheating, and KNOW they were cheating, they would not have fessed up to cheating.

I think they all should be expelled for cheating, or have it permanently placed on their facebook page, for all to see that they are willing to cheat in exams, to give themselves an edge over HONEST people.

Again, cheating only gets you so far, if you are stupid enough to cheat, you WILL be caught, sooner or later it will be found out that you dont know shit. Cheating might get you to the job interview, but you will fail the interview when its found out you are living a lie..

So Mike, go ahead, make out that cheating is ok, as long as you can put some of the blame onto the teacher (after all he should not be teaching things that are so hard right)..

But its not the students cheating, that has you worried Mike, its the professor calling them out and catching them for cheating..

You just have to defend the rule breakers again Mike..

To say the professor was equally negligent is a joke Mike, he is not negligent at all.. he is doing his job.

I hope you get to hire some people sometimes in your life, Mike and if you do I hope you get one of those that cheated and does not know anything,, perfect match for you.. so the ignorant can lead the blind…

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: "even if you think the students did wrong here, the Professor was equally negligent" Really Mike, in 'mikeworld' that might be the case..

Its quite simple Mike, You ARE cheating if you look up the answers, you are not cheating if you are looking up the questions.

There is nothing inherently wrong with using question/answer combinations to study (otherwise, how would you know if you got the answer right?). The only ethical violation occurs when you know that those exact question/answer pairs are going to be used for the test.

So tell me, how many students in the story (who allegedly received these question/answer pairs in an email entitled “Study Guide”), knew that the exact same questions would be on the test? How would they even suspect? The teacher in question said flat out that he created his own tests questions. If I were a student in that class, it wouldn’t cross my mind that the professor was lying and that I shouldn’t use a study guide that someone sent to me.

You’re a terrible troll, as always.

Anonymous Coward says:

How times have changed.

When I attended on of the US military academies (Annapolis) all of us were bound by a strict honor code, and I do mean strict.

The code existed for many purposes, but certainly one of its purposes was to instill the importance of honor and integrity, traits reflective of personal character.

I am quite saddened after reading many of the above comments. Rather that taking a critical look at what it appears many students did, they choose to pillory the professor. Many comments even laud what these students did by stating it showed ingenuity in preparing for the test.

(Shakes head and moves on to other matters…..)

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am quite saddened after reading many of the above comments. Rather that taking a critical look at what it appears many students did, they choose to pillory the professor. Many comments even laud what these students did by stating it showed ingenuity in preparing for the test.

I am quite saddened after reading the above comment. Rather than taking a critical look at what the professor did, it chooses to pillory the students. Many comments even laud what this professor did by saying that it’s perfectly fine that he lied and accused students of cheating for their study habits!

(Shakes head and moves on to other matters…..)

(Shakes head and moves on to other matters…..)

Point being, I think the point you’re missing (by a HUGE margin) is that the people you are complaining about DID in fact “take a critical look” at what the students did, and they don’t think it’s that bad. Because it’s not.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I find your comment to be quite stunning, something that I certainly did not expect to come from you.

Why? I’m serious here. I think the professor screwed up big time here and is taking it out on the students. I’m surprised that you don’t even think that’s possible, and instead of recognizing that other people have brains, you feel the need to condescendingly insist they could not have possibly “taken a critical look” at what the students did. I am looking quite critically at what they did, and I’m not convinced it was wrong in any way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

1. Questions on the exam were M/C and T/F.

2. The test is provided in a learning lab via computer.

3. Student receives in advance of the exam a “study guide” (quotes intentional) comprising questions and answers, which “study guide” was not part of any curriculum materials identified by the professor.

4. Student, while taking exam, notes that every question presented is precisely a question appearing in the “study guide” for which the correct answer was provided.

Any “Red Flags” here that a student should have recognized?

ldrager (profile) says:

Test banks are prepared by the textbook authors and publishers, who intend them to be used by the instructors.
Using them is not lazy, a double standard, etc.

In my experience, this can work fairly well in elementary classes, and is useless in advanced classes.

Publishers often try to distribute test banks and homework answers in a way that will make them available to instructors but not students.

As we have seen, there is no way to do this securely.
In many courses, this wouldn’t much matter. If it does matter, you’ll have to make up your own questions.

Philip (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right. It’s not “lazy.” But I think the real issue here is the professor claiming these were his questions, he made himself. Even to the point where he even said he tends to make questions that don’t make sense, so he apologized in advance.

Now, he’s clearly saying he used somebody else’s questions (after already claiming them to be his original work!). Clearly a double standard here.

Teeesen says:

A few points on this

(1) Defining ethics. There is no need to get too philosophical about this. By enrolling in a course students agree to abide by the academic behaviour standards set by the university. These are usually spelled out pretty clearly in the university catalog. Clearly not following these standards is unethical.

(2) Is this cheating? Unfortunately UCF doesn’t define cheating, it just says not to do it. My university mentions “Use and/or distribution of stolen material: includes the use of material which the student knows to have been improperly obtained and/or the distribution of such material.” So at my university, what the students did would be explicitly considered cheating unless they could argue that they did not know that the material was improperly obtained. Probably the test bank would have said at the top of the first page that it was not for student use and that it was copyrighted. Probably the students knew.

Test banks are not “publicly available” (as one poster claimed) except in the same sense that crack cocaine is “publicly available”. Yes you can obtain it, if you know where to go, but that doesn’t make it ethical to use it, copy it, and pass it on.

(3) Did the professor cheat? Come on now; let’s not be silly. Personally I’ve never used questions from a test bank, but I can’t say that it is unethical or even lazy. (It is, as this story illustrates, a bit risky.) The instructor owes it to the students to give them the best questions possible. If they were written by someone else, so be it. You might just as well argue that an instructor who uses a textbook is lazy or unethical for teaching ideas that someone else came up with. Nor is it “copyright piracy” (as one poster suggested), as the question bank was provided to the instructor by the copyright holder (or his or her publisher) for the very purpose of being used on tests.

Dave (profile) says:

Does it turn on a word??

One wonders what might have happened if instead of “cheating” the students had been called out for “stealing”?

I’m assuming that the test bank is not public domain, and that the students accessed it illicitly. Rather than arguing fine points about the definition of “cheat”, why not applaud the students for creative preparation AND address the more broadly applicable concepts of intellectual property rights and piracy?

Could it be that the professor’s simplistic “cheating” accusation rather than teaching about today’s real-world ethics issues is a sign that he’s a bit past his prime?

Much like copying some else’s music or movies is a violation despite how easy it is to do, illicit use of the test bank would constitute stealing regardless whether or not the test bank publisher’s mechanism has security flaws. Seems this is a missed opportunity to touch on the importance of personal integrity and respect for other people’s rights and property.


Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

1. He told his students that he wrote the questions himself.

2. The students decided to use the official test bank as a study guide (why not? He said he writes his test questions himself, so the unused, official test bank would be a great study guide!).

3. Now he’s accusing those students of cheating. How were they to know the professor was lying?

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 A test...

A test tests the student’s ability to answer the questions on the test. Nothing more. They were able to answer the questions very well. They apparently didn’t circumvent the studying process, they accelerated it. Good for them. Who cares where they got the knowledge, as long as they got it? Well, the (Lazy?) (Lying?) Prof. apparently cares.

It would be different if they stole the Prof.’s answer guide from his desk. They didn’t. They still had to correctly answer the questions posed to them. They had to learn ALL the material in the test bank because they couldn’t know which few questions the prof. was going to use. Seems to me they completed the test requirements and learned the material.

If these students get out into the world and cannot do the jobs they are hired to do, they cheated themselves, but they did not cheat on this test judging by the information in the original article and what I read about it in the news.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:

The situation here isn’t that the students had a vague idea of what the test questions would be and where to research the answers. They instead had access to the specific questions and exact answers, to the point where many were allegedly bragging about the fact that they had circumvented the studying process.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If a student knew:

(1) That the “study guide” in the email they received was the official question bank for the test, and
(2) The official question bank was what the professor was drawing on for the test questions.

Then I can agree that the student in question is a cheater.

Now, are you going to make that claim that all the students who used the test banks question were aware of the above two facts?

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m sure not all the students were 100% aware of all the facts. But it stands to reason, given the the claim that many students were allegedly bragging about “having a copy of the test” and “knowing the answers ahead of time” which allowed them to “ace the exam”, that a significant percentage of those utilizing the test bank did so fully aware they were circumventing the testing process.

Does that mean everybody is guilty? Of course not. But if you have a means of separating the guilty and innocent, I’d love to hear it.

Otherwise, the solution given by the school seems reasonable.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

many students were allegedly bragging

[Citation Needed]

How many is “many”? Remember that allegedly, 200 people were caught “cheating”, so “many” ought to be a lot more than “two or three” if you’re going to make a blanket statement like:

It’s cheating. The fact that so many people are defending such cheating is quite sad.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The original video explicitly states that classmates were making the bragging declarations that I quote. I have trouble believing that only a tiny percentage of students were A: vocal enough for widespread discontent over the outcome, thus prompting emails. B: That only a minor fraction of the students were unable to perceive or acquire the facts about what they were utilizing. Do students now ask zero questions over material given to them claiming to be a list of information relevant to an important exam? If so, I think the situation is even sadder.

Even one person doing this as described is an example of cheating. My “blanket statement” about this type of actions and how it is defined stands.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I have trouble believing

Oh, I didn’t know this was our standard of proof now.

Well, I “have trouble believing” that it was anything more than a tiny percentage of students bragging. Therefore most were not cheating. Q.E.D.

Do students now ask zero questions over material given to them claiming to be a list of information relevant to an important exam?

Why would they? Now you’re just grasping for something to slam them with since your original blanket statement has been shown to be shortsighted.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Yes, I have trouble believing that the students were to stupid to investigate the content of material they used to pass an exam. I also find it unlikely that only one or two bragging students would illicit a strong enough response to prompt multiple emails. Your version of events, one where students ask no questions about documents they study from that come from outside the classroom, and only one or two people out of two hundred are clever enough to parse the likely fact that these documents are allowing them to circumvent the testing process – given that we have suggestive proof that SOME students absolutely knew that what they had amounted to “a copy of the exam” – seems very unlikely.

But it turns out we’re discussing our opinions. You are welcome to yours, no matter how improbable or contorted it is. Now, I’ll grant that the students may have been foolish and neither investigated, inquired, or even spared the slightest amount of critical thought needed to deduce the obvious in this issue. And as I said, I find that answer to be even sadder than intentional cheating.

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: which questions were used?

Did the students know which questions the prof was going to use on the test ahead of time? If the Prof was asking 10 questions, and the students learned ahead of time the 10 questions, and memorized the answers to those 10 questions and nothing more, they cheated both in the class and in life. They had no way to know which answers the Prof was using, and according to the article, the Prof himself said he didn’t use test bank questions on his tests. As far as the students knew, NONE of those questions would be on the test.

If the answer bank had 200 questions, and the Prof used 25, the students learned the answers to 8 times as many questions as they needed. If the Prof taught from the book the test bank was associated with, and the students learned the answers to all of the questions in the test bank, they learned all the material! At that point, even if the prof. phrased his own questions, it probably would have been covered by the knowledge the students gained. I don’t see any problems with this scenario.

Philip (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes. Except, the professor told the students HE made the questions. So the question isn’t about the ethics of being able to copy the answers; but about him lying to the student body about creating the test personally. Basically, the professor plagiarized his tests, and now he’s trying to blame his students for his laziness because they happened to have located the *publicly available* test questions.

Philip (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Ah, but all hearsay. Did they have the actual exam? or were they actually talking about the test-bank questions? Clearly, if you had the test-bank, you had all the answers (you just didn’t know which ones would get selected).

Keep in mind, the test-bank questions is the only proof this professor has of actual cheating. He’s laying claim that using the test-bank questions was the cheating.

It was mentioned, somewhere, some of the students that came forward claimed to have used the test-bank, but thought it was fine. I’m siding with them.

Memyself says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

As I said, “allegedly”. But given the circumstances, I see little reason to doubt the veracity of the teacher or the students who chose to email the teacher.

So again, we have students (allegedly) bragging about having a copy of the exam ahead of time, and that said access allowed them to ace the exam because they knew the answers. Those are supposedly the words that were being used by the students themselves. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’m happy to hear it.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

But given the circumstances, I see little reason to doubt the veracity of the teacher or the students who chose to email the teacher.

WHAT?? He’s already been caught lying to his students! Why would you give him the benefit of the doubt? Given the circumstances, we should assume he’s still a liar, and consider everything he says accordingly!

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

Wow, you are seriously splitting some tiny hairs here. Why would he mention writing questions himself (and you have admitted that he does this), and say that he “creates” the test, without also mentioning that the test questions are from a test bank?

It’s totally misleading. He obviously intended for his students to believe that he wrote the test, when that is not true. Intentional deception, aka lying. He’s a lying liarface and his pants are on fire. OK you get the idea. Why are you trying to make it look like he’s not deceptive?

Danny (profile) says:

This discussion misses the big picture

First a point to the previous posts:

1. Most text publishers make review questions available to students (back of chapter or online); if a professor tests from these he has to accept that some students will use them to study. Most publishers also make “test banks” available to professors. My reading of this case is that it is such a test bank this professor used. While these are not supposed to be accessible by students, we all know that there is no way to fully secure information that is distributed to some.

Second, this whole discussion misses the point that testing from a publisher’s test bank is no way to help students learn skills useful to the real world. This professor is doing his students a disservice and his teaching/testing technique should change ASAP.

a. The publisher test bank notoriously do not ask for any conceptual thinking, they simply ask students to feedback as fact information presented to them in the textbook.

b. There is no useful reason to memorize textbook information (except, perhaps, toward building a functional professional vocabulary–and even then I am not sure simply knowing the word means one knows how to use it properly.)

c. Once one is finished with school, one can always Goolge information. We no longer live in an age where information is a useful resource–or memorized information is a useful job skill.

d. What differentiates people in the workforce are several things: [1] knowing how to access the right information quickly; [2] knowing how to apply that information to inform decision making; [3] knowing how to combine information in novel ways to solve problems; (there are probably more statements along these lines). All of this assumes one can easily access basic factual information; all of this assumes no reason to memorize information because one can access it upon need (and anyway, information changes quickly–so what is memorized in school is potentially out of date by the time the student is in the workforce and would need to be reconfirmed anyway.)

e. So why would a professor ask students to memorize a textbook and feedback factual multiple choice information?

f. I am giving a final exam Monday in an undergrad Content Management Systems course (IT-320 at DePaul). I’ve arranged to give my final exam in a computer lab. I’ve told the student the final is “open everything”–the only thing they are not permitted to do is have synchronous or asynchronous communication with anyone inside or outside the classroom during the two hour exam period. I’ve told them they can access anything on the Internet they want (outside of communication tools); and that they can even pre-build their own repositories of information to call upon if they like.

My exam is about 20 multiple choice questions (that I’ve written myself) that take a form when you have to understand the underlying “why” to get the question right. Plus, one short essay (on a topic related to one of my lectures, but not exactly the same–so they will have to give it some thought or quick research). Plus I am having them build two quick and dirty CMS (one in WordPress and one in Joomla (probably) to my specifications.

I am testing deeper understanding of concepts and the ability to solve problems under time pressure. I am also testing that they’ve been doing their own work all term as this is far to much for them to complete if they’ve been having someone else do their project for them.

My system may not be perfect (and my teaching leaves a lot to be desire), but I think I am better preparing my students than this UCF professor is his.

Mark says:

Nice justification

I see. So your argument is that since the professor is “lazy” that the students were justified in using those means (studying the actual test questions beforehand) in order to obtain a better grade.

Let’s expand on that a bit.

Let’s say there’s an economic report that due to your position you have first access to. By using the information in this report, you stand to gain an advantage over other people in your market space and make lots of money. Is it ethical to use this information?

Let’s change how you got the report. Suppose the report was sloppily left in the recycle bin on a public computer? How about if a draft of the report was left in a trash bin? Maybe a third party was actually writing the report and allowed people other than the original author to view it (for a fee or not a fee)?

Answer: At least for some of the above situations, that behavior would land you in jail (or at least heavily fined) for insider trading.

In short, the poor ethics or habits of one individual should not be the basis on which you make your poor ethics decision. If you have questions about this, please review Philosophy 101, and read a short book called “The Plague” by Albert Camus.

Was the professor lazy? Without more evidence, it’s difficult to say. Possibly. Writing good test questions is hard.

I used to write the first draft of my exams as I walked across campus. Then the next draft I would review the questions to make sure I covered the course material. The questions would then be reviewed for difficulty with a special eye towards exam time constraints. Finally, point and partial point values were assigned to each question.

My thoughts on this were as follows. Organic chemistry is hard. Welcome to the real world, students. When you graduate, the president of the university is not going to hand you a book with all the answers to life, the universe, and everything indexed and cross-referenced. It’s best to get used to this when the only consequence is a grade, and not someone’s future, livelihood, or life on the line.

Students who earned an “A” in my classes learned three things: organic chemistry, how to solve problems, and how to read critically. That’s the point of a college education. Anything less and you’ve been cheated (or more likely you’ve cheated yourself).

Is it ethical for for me to complain that other professors didn’t put in this much effort into their exam questions? Possibly. Should that influence my ethics and standards? No.

In short, poor behavior by others (even when directly affecting you in a similar situation) is no excuse for poor behavior by you. The attitude of “if it’s not explicitly forbidden, it’s OK” is also bogus.

Situational ethics of this type led to the Savings and Loan mess, Enron / MCI (and Sarbanes-Oxely), and the credit default swap mess. Situational ethics of this type also lead to cost and time overruns on projects as well as poor project results. Read the anecdotal accounts in PMBOK for more information.

However, as long as you get yours I suppose it’s OK in your book.

AR (profile) says:

A Good Lesson

This will be a very good lesson for these students when they enter the corporate world. It almost makes me wonder if its not being staged as part of the class. It has many points that need to be learned by todays business students. Some of them are:
A good manager gets others to do their work for them (delegate authority). Quinn even gives credit to the “lab instructors” for rewriting the tests.

When caught doing something ethically questionable, deflect and redirect the accusations towards someone else. Take charge of the situation and try to head the investigation so as to steer it in a direction away from yourself.

Show no weakness. Be strong. Be confident. Be aggressive. use language that takes advantage of the deepest fears of the person you intend to take the blame. Use the loss of support from friends, family, peers and society in general to manipulate them into thinking that they are responsible for committing the most hanus of crimes and could somehow face their perceived ultimate punishment. Then give them an out.

After you have them in fear of losing it all. Show compassion. get them to freely admit their guilt for a lesser punishment. Convince them of how noble a deed it will be to just admit it. That way all blame for any indiscretion on your part is absolved by the admission of guilt on their part.

Its a classic. Thats how corperate works. I dont see the pronlem here…. its just life skills.

Sean (profile) says:

Creation is not writing, using a non-public resource is cheating

The instructor said that he “created” the tests. He later on talked about writing questions, but he in no way specifically stated that he would be writing any or all of the questions on the test. Creation can just as easily mean selecting questions from a testbank.

If the testbank was not public knowledge, and was not meant to be public knowledge, if that testbank was acquired without the permission of the book publishers and then spread to students, what the students did was cheating, whether they knew it or not.

That’s no different than passing around a copy of the actual test beforehand.

On the other hand, if the student came across a publicly accessable resource and used it to study, I don’t believe that was cheating.

Adam Bell (profile) says:

Years after I had taken an engineering exam (and passed it) the professor retired. Meeting him socially much later (I was by then a prof myself), I asked if he knew that most of the students in that course had known that the 50 questions on his final exam were from a set of 250 and that virtually every fraternity had compiled that list. His response was “Oh sure, but then if you know the answers to those 250 questions, you know the material I taught.”

CHarlie Dahan (profile) says:

One Question

Before I form an opinion, what I am wondering if the issue regarding the test bank – was it stolen? Being a professor, I know many text book publishers provide us with a unique website or book with questions that we can use for exams and/or for review.

If the test bank was ‘compromised’ or stolen then I would have an issue, but if it was available online to anyone, then these 200 students should continue to raise a fuss and go to their state representatives or the governing education body in Florida.

I will also say, it is a shitty position to be in for both sides and hope I never have to deal with anything beyond the usual isolated cheating and plagiarism events.

CHarlie Dahan (profile) says:

Test Bank Question

I went to his website and then to the publishers website and the only way I could access the test bank questions was with an authorized user name and password. So these were not ‘freely’ available online. Here is the text he is using for the Entrepreneurship class:


Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Test Bank Question

Perhaps not freely available for the first person to get their hands on them, but once the emails started flying around with “Study Guide!” plastered on them, you can hardly fault the other students for the same breach.

That would be like me illegally downloading a song, then emailing it around to my friends with the message “check out this new song I recorded!”. Are they guilty of a copyright violation too, even though they were unaware of my charade?

ALANTONE (profile) says:

"F" for Ethics 101

Mike, I normally agree with you on many of your posting, but you are way off on this one. This is ethics 101 question and these students just got an ?F?. By shifting blame on how the professor created his exam or even implying that maybe the students were not cheating but studying instead, is a disfavor to both the students who cheated and professor Quinn who took a stand against it.

Of course if your views are based on the philosophy of Relativism then anything goes.

AR (profile) says:

Re: "F" for Ethics 101

I dont know about MIke, but you have to look at this chronologically. Quinn states that he has been teaching for 20 yrs and the same way for the last 4 yrs. In the second vid (which came first) He states that he Creates the exams. Well with the issue of cheating being raised its clear that he does not and hasnt for many years. later in the first vid he praises the lab instructors for spending 96 hours to rewrite the exam.
It still seems that hasnt learned that its his job to do this. If he would have been doing his job in the first place and not relying on others to do it for him this may have been avoided. If he would have “created” the test and not copied it,or portions of it, off of a web site (or allowed others to do it for him) then the students wouldnt have had it available for them to use as a “study guide”.
If they had to memorize answers to say 200 questions so that they would be able to answer 100 random questions thats studying. if you only have to memorize the exact 100 answers because of knowing which ones are on the test, thats cheating. its also cheating the school, students, and society if you are paid for a service, refuse to perform that service, and redirect blame for your failures when its exposed. Hes been teaching for 20 yrs. He should know better. Then to threaten his students (who are paying him to do a job) in order to cover up his failures and scare them into not questioning him.


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: "F" for Ethics 101

This is ethics 101 question and these students just got an ?F?. By shifting blame on how the professor created his exam or even implying that maybe the students were not cheating but studying instead, is a disfavor to both the students who cheated and professor Quinn who took a stand against it.

Why? It’s a serious question. Why is this unethical? The students still had to learn the questions in the testbank. I don’t see how it’s any different than using sample tests.

ALANTONE (profile) says:

Re: Re: "F" for Ethics 101

Ethics is about doing the right thing and not about rationalize what you did afterward as being right. So technically under the conditions defined in this posting, the student might not have cheated, but their conduct was unethical. And once again, blaming the professor is just rationalizing what the students did as being right. At least 2/3 of students did the right thing.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "F" for Ethics 101

Ethics is about doing the right thing and not about rationalize what you did afterward as being right. So technically under the conditions defined in this posting, the student might not have cheated, but their conduct was unethical. And once again, blaming the professor is just rationalizing what the students did as being right. At least 2/3 of students did the right thing.

That’s circular logic. It does not explain what is unethical here. I’m really still trying to understand this. Using sample questions as practice to learn the material is standard practice, so what’s the problem here?

ALANTONE (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "F" for Ethics 101

It was reported that the exam key was taken.


Which is very different from using a test bank or test sample to study. It is obvious that the students knew what they did was not right, that is why none of the students challenge the professor.

Finally, whether the professor lied to his students or not does not relieve the students for what they did.

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "F" for Ethics 101

“It was reported that the exam key was take”
“Which is very different from using a test bank or test sample to study.”

The links you provide just lead to the “official” school report/statement. Keep in mind that the school is in damage control mode and is trying to cover its … They wouldnt want the quality or integrity of its teachers brought into question.

Now with that said, go back and watch the video again. Quinn admits that it was a test bank that was used. The school used the term “exam key” in order to confuse and influence opinion in its favor against the students. Like you said, if an exam key (which I interpret to be “the exact answers and only those answers”) was taken, thats a totally different story.

“that is why none of the students challenge the professor.”

At the time of the first video, the students are going through the accusation and threat phase. they are being told that if they dont admit guilt within so many days (extremely limited so as not to garner support) there lives and future careers will be forever ruined. That is the aggressive terror tactic used to force submission and redirect attention. So of course they are not going to confront him right there when he is saying if they do, he will destroy their lives. Again, re-watch the first video.

This is going to lead to students who didnt use the test bank to admit their guilt when there was none. Just to protect themselves from this tactic, It will also give the school, and Quinn, higher numbers to quote as proof that they were right. Further convoluting the truth of what is really going on here.
If Quinn would have done his job in the first place, as he states in the second video, none of this would be an issue. But instead he lies to them, only teaches the book, and uses the book publishers questions for the exam. Anyone with common sense could see that because of this, his classes are just “fluff” and to pass his class the only thing you need to learn is whats in the book. Not worth the large sums of money the student are paying.


The second video IS their challenge to Quinn and his accusations

AR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "F" for Ethics 101

“Ethics is about doing the right thing and not about rationalize what you did afterward as being right. So technically under the conditions defined in this posting, the student might not have cheated”

Now you are getting close. The first thing that happened was Quinn lieing about “creating” the test. After a student admitted to using the test bank to study, then Quinn came out to accuse 200 students of cheating. thus redirecting the attention of of himself and onto the students

“blaming the professor is just rationalizing what the students did as being right”

Reverse this statement and you then understand what is really is going on. Who did what first. Did Quinn lie or did the students use the test bank as a study aid (which is the norm and accepted at other schools).
When your hand gets caught in the cookie jar its best to try and shift the blame. If Quinn was actually creating the test himself, as he stated, then the use of a test bank for a study aid would then be viewed as a clever idea and a useful tool.

Jerry Leichter says:

Re: Re: "F" for Ethics 101

OK, so if it wasn’t cheating to get hold of the test bank, let’s take the next step: Would it have been cheating to get hold of the actual test? Suppose someone steals *that*. OK, that one person is guilty of theft or whatever. They then choose to make it freely available. Is it ethical for others to study those questions? Aren’t they “learning the answers to the questions”?

How is studying from the stolen version (that you got “innocently”) any different from using sample tests? Is it just the idea that with 700 questions in the test bank, learning all of them means learning all the material in the course? Well … suppose as it happens there’s only one sample test available. Say this is a new course and all there is to find is last year’s version. How is studying from that any different from studying from this year’s version that a classmate forwarded to you?

I give you a choice of flying into bad weather with a pilot who passed his tests by memorizing questions in a data bank, or a pilot who actually studied the material in depth. You know nothing else about either. Will you really tell me that you have no preference for one over the other?

This is ethics based on what you can reason away. This is ethics based on what you might get caught at. This is ethics based on the worst of defense lawyer’s reasoning: Find something – anything – to make the prosecution’s witnesses look bad, and maybe the jury will focus on them rather than on what the defendant actually did.

Real ethics is about human beings. It’s inherently about what they intended. Law tries to reflect that, but it can only do so in a limited way because we rarely have a way to really *know* what a person intended. But ethics is supposed to help a good person regulate his own actions. A person at least has a hope of knowing about his intentions.

Does anyone here seriously believe that the students who used the question bank to study did so really believing that that was an efficient way to learn the material? (Anyone who believes that: Please get in touch; I have a great deal to offer you on a bridge in New York.) No, this is situational ethics at its worst: It’s convenient to pass this course, I have an expedient way to do it – why not take it?

Granted, people with that attitude will fit right in at some of our largest business institutions. Twenty years from now, they’ll be the ones sowing the seeds of the next great financial scandal. If he’s still alive then, perhaps Bernie Madoff will be there to show them the ropes in prison.

Many years ago, when I taught college courses, my exams were all open book/open notes/bring what you want to help you. (Of course, as I pointed out to my classes … what this meant was that the answers to the questions I asked *would not be in the books*.) People *still* cheated: I caught them copying from each other. After all … if I’m allowed to use any reference material … why can’t I use the next guy’s answers?

— Jerry

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "F" for Ethics 101

If they thought it was a sample test, it would not be unethical to study it. If they knew it was the actual test, it would be unethical. Seems pretty simple to me. However the more complicated part is what the student does when he sits down to take the test and realizes it’s what he’s been studying. The right thing to do would be to approach the professor and tell him what happened, including who he got the exam from. How many would actually do that?

Jon (profile) says:

I normally agree with alot of what is written on TechDirt, but I have to disagree with this article.

There’s a difference between practice tests and the test bank. The test bank is a tool provided to instructors (not to students) by publishers. As a former teacher, I had to jump through a few hoops just to get my hands on them.

For any student to claim that they didn’t know they were cheating by using the test banks is either a ridiculous attempt to absolve themselves of their wrongdoings, or a sad sign of ethics today.

Any student today knows the intent behind tests is to determine how much of the material the students were able to learn, and most tests do this by spot checking. If you happen to know all the spots that will be checked, and you only memorize the answers to those spot checks, you’re skewing the results to your own benefit. Further, you’re not only improving your own score, but you’re devaluing the degree. Students who graduate from a university program by cheating instead of learning the material graduate with a degree that they can’t live up to. That short sighted self serving attitude is ethical, or rather not cheating?

I don’t agree with the professor 100%, but I don’t agree with your defense of the students at all.

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Devaluing the degree

This happens all the time. Colleges take the money and teach the tests. Teachers do the first three problems from the book and expect the student to reason the rest out for themselves. Testing only tests the ability to answer the questions on the test.

I have met plenty of grads that were worthless, and lots of people who didn’t go to college that are invaluable!

*only slightly off topic: The Prof gets their copy and test bank for free and the students pay hundreds of dollars for their copy. Why does the world need an 11th edition of Algebra 101 or Calc 101? Math doesn’t change from year to year. (Maybe at the Dr. level, bot not the 101 classes.) Profs are teaching the test, which comes free with the free book, so the publisher can charge a fortune for the student editions. The SATs are another scam. Its a business selling tests, testing materials, study guilds, SAT prep classes, etc… College is a bigger scam than ever before.

TheStupidOne says:

So I listened to this guy, and he is so full of crap it isn’t funny. I’m a few years out of school, but at my school every test given previously was fair game to study from, if you found a test bank then we were free to use it. In fact, our school library kept a database of tests that students had donated as study tools for future students. I think I only had one professor that didn’t write his own questions and he was widely known as the easiest professor at the school (I actually wish I had a different professor because his filled up so fast with people seeking the easy A but I was very interested in the course).

I feel that this professor is a total slimeball and the students accused of cheating should protest and pursue disciplinary action against the professor. Taking practice exams, studying example test questions is a very popular, encouraged, and effective method of studying and this professor should know better.

ceric (profile) says:

Paying hard money for quack crap.

You know, I listened to this gas bag yammer on. I heard several lies between the two videos. My head was literally starting to hurt from the horse manure this jackass was spilling. Sorry for my vulgarity. However, I believe in knowledge and wisdom. I strive to learn new things all the time. However, at times I have to pay for the class in the field I wish to pursue. But when I can find out more information on Google than what the teacher actually knows, and I confront him/her about this with a solid backing of information, and than punished for it. I get angry and I wish to have my money returned. With this being said, this professor has clearly screwed up. CLEARLY. And the horse manure scare tactic to get people to fess up for something he was to lazy to do. Well that just goes to show you what our education system is like these days. I suggest the students boycott this class, advocate the termination of this dunderhead, and demand better class material with active professors who take pride in their work.

Brad (profile) says:

I think the ethical issue here is more subtle; it’s the Professor. He claimed to write his own questions, but he did not. He accused the students of cheating, but all he knew was that an answer bank was available (not surprising given the availability of information in the internet). He went on television and devalued the degrees of that graduating class, but he hasn’t responded to since media began scrutinizing exactly what the ‘cheating’ behavior entailed. And lastly, in effectively barring any study aids, he tells the students to use their own work, but he copies his test from answer banks.

That said, I think under the UCF code of conduct, this probably was cheating. It’s broad boarding on the absurd. The UCF code of conduct states that academic misconduct includes “unauthorized assistance: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information or study aids in any academic exercise unless specifically authorized by the instructor of record. The unauthorized possession of examination or course related material also constitutes cheating.” It also states that “these rules of conduct should be read broadly.”

Todge (profile) says:

Gotta side with the prof heree

Firstly – it is irrelevant whether the prof wrote the Qs. He said he ‘created’ the test – in the same way I ‘created’ dinner tonight – doesn’t mean I grew the potatoes. The prof was using a recognised and professional prepared resource that is explicitly stated to be available to instructors only – for their use to generate exams. Not some sample test printed in the back of the text. I fail to see how the prof sitting down and writing up scores of questions proves anything. He’s most likely directed to use the text, and it’s clear that no-one above him has a problem with this, or they’d have told him to ignore it and never use a test bank again.

So the students weren’t using open/honest means to revise for the test. Someone actively sought to create an unfair advantage – and that is probably the central issue that the prof and the university is concerned about – not the method of the test creation.

Meeze (user link) says:

Sure, if...

“Taking “sample tests” is a very good way to learn material”

No, taking sample tests is not a good way to learn material. It’s a good way to memorize what you need to pass a test, but not to learn, or understand, the material. The students seem to be attempting to legitimize their actions by placing the blame on anyone but themselves. There is no “double standard.” The point of the assessment is not to see whether or not the Professor can create his own test, its to see if the students memorized the facts the Professor deems necessary to have memorized for an hour.

Creating a test from a question bank is typical. USF is a research university, their emphasis is on research first, teaching second.

However, this is a fantastic teaching moment for the students and the teacher.

MikeLinPA (profile) says:

Re: Sure, if...

Taking a test only tests the student’s ability to answer the questions on the test. That is all. A test is a terrible way to tell if the student learned the material in the course. It only tests if the student can answer the test questions correctly. But from grade school on up, that is how we teach.

No child left behind? Schools teach the test.

SATs? Big business prepping your your kids for that standardized test.

Evaluation Tests in grade school? Days spent filling in little circles with a #2 pencil every year when we could have been learning something. (Want to know what I learned indirectly from those damned tests? The theoretical existence of some pencil that isn’t a #2 pencil! I didn’t ever see one until I took drafting in high school.)

Joshua (profile) says:

I have participated in the construction of a test bank for a certification exam. In my opinion, if the test bank is correctly structured, having prior access to it should provide only minimal advantage to the student. The test bank I participated in creating has multiple permutations on each question such that it would require extraordinary memorization skills to be able to get the questions right without understanding the topic. Alternatively, some questions were written so that, if you didn’t understand the key piece of information that differentiated them, they would not stand out from each other on a test. These weren’t “trick” questions per se; the ability to recognize the key differentiator was the knowledge being tested.

For example, if a question pertained to IP subnetting, you could easily dump forty different combinations of IP address and subnet mask into the test bank. There are simply too many combinations of IP address and subnet mask for a person to memorize every single question/answer pair, especially if you intentionally make the questions similar to each other. Basically, you make it easier to just learn the material than to memorize the test bank.

The certification exam in question doesn’t provide the actual questions to the students, because, well, SOMEBODY out there would memorize all the questions and answers, but it provides sample questions that are comparable to the test questions, with the intent of helping the students prepare better.

My point is not to weigh in on whether what the students did was ethical or not, but to point out that it IS possible to create test banks that have internal protection against “leaking”.

Dennis says:

Practicing =/= cheating

I had a prof for physical chem that gave us old tests so we could practice for the final. I now give my middle school students sample questions in their study guides.

I’d love to see the scores of the second test. I assume they’ll actually be higher than the previous classes averages because they took the time to practice for the exam instead of simply studying.

Shebazz says:

did anyone actually research this before spewing garbage?

From the website where you can get the testbank questions:
“Access to Pearson’s global resources is permitted only to instructors who are using or considering using Pearson products and are currently teaching at educational institutions. Pearson verifies all access requests by contacting the applicable institution to verify the requestor’s status as an instructor, and that the named requestor actually made such request.

If you are a student attempting to gain access to these resources, your request will be shared with your school during the verification process and, upon discovery, you will be subject to the disciplinary processes and full range of sanctions provided by your school’s academic honesty policies. If you are looking for resources to help you in your courses, please visit our website for students at http://www.mypearsonstore.com

Yeah, unethical. Much more unethical than the prof implying that he wrote the questions when he didn’t. Both sides are wrong, but to different degrees. Prof should apologize for misleading them and the students should thank their lucky stars that they didn’t get expelled.

monkyyy says:

Devaluing the degree

school was a bad idea to start w/

a standardized sys of learning to make everyone learn every topic thought of as “vital”, at the exact same speed, at a low enough level that “anyone”(according to the older generation i still cant spell) can take it.

people are very different, with different skills many would not be under the short list of vital topics and even then people are NOT as strong as their weakest link, and should be focusing on either what their best at or what they enjoy not what they hate most in the world or suck at

darryl says:

Cheating in real life

If you get a job at a restaurant, based on the result of an exam that says you are able to make soup, and when you start your job, the first thing you have to do is look up how to make soup. Then YES you are cheating, you empolyer, yourself, and everyone else.

You are claiming you are something you are not, because you passed a test to that effect, sure you cheated in that test and you do not know what you claim you know, so you are cheating, and lying as well.

If it was not for people cheating there would be no requirement for job interviews, that is a requirement for a job interview, for your employer to determine if you are actualy what you say you are, or if you are cheating yourself by claiming abilities and skills you do not have.

If you do not that that is cheating, then what do you think it is ?

Also cheating, goes far further that cheating yourself, you are cheating against everyone else around you, you’re supposed ‘friends’. So you cheat so you get a better score, so you get a better position or a better school, or a scholarship, when the person who is actaully better than you misses out..

So you are cheating on society, and you are doing it with out tax payers money.

And you have Mike up there saying its all the professors fault, and the students are right to cheat because it was made available to them.. what a joke..

I would be horrified if my kids ever turned out like Mike, self serving to the extreem, with a what’s your’s is mine and what is mine is mine..

At least some people here see how stupid it is to try to defend cheating of this kind in any situation, and how petty it is to try to deflect blame onto the teacher.

As if it is the teachers fault that his students decide to cheat themselves and their friends and family, expecially their family who are probably paying alot to get them an education, that they are taking as a game, a ‘system to be gamed’ for our own personal gains.

what are we going to end up with, a generation of Mike santioned dolts who do not know anything, but think as they passed and cheated on exams that they do know somethings.. (how to cheat and steal)..

And that is all they will have, they like mike will spend his days talking about subjects that clearly he has little knowledge off, but talks anyway, as if ‘if mike says it enough then somehow it must be true’.

But trying to blame the teacher because the students made a decision to cheat is a new time low..

its not like the level of education in the US has ever been or is at an all time high..

Last I looked the US educational standard was somewhere behind brazil, and well out of the top 10 world wide.. but cheating is ok, lets just blame the teacher.. there done..

head back in sand time.

Cynyr (profile) says:

Cheating in real life

So if i have too look up the part number for a sporlan ball valve for a 1-1/8″ ODF line, i’m cheating? what if i have to look up the yield strength of steel? or the first critical temperature(3 years ago for a class)? the energy density of gasoline? or how to calculate a bending moment(i last used that in a class near 5 years ago now)?

All of that would be cheating at being a mechanical engineer by your definition. we’ll just ignore the fact that i know which book on my shelf to go look in, and where in that book to look, and how to use the information in there, and when something is “significant” or not.

I fail to see how a test bank would have been helpful for any of the classes in my field that i took in college. The numbers were slightly different, the unit may have been different. Sometimes the question

Anonymous Coward says:


No. If I was a student that had NOT done it, I would be worried that I would be wrongly accused of doing it and most likely turn myself in to save myself the effort fighting something that was never a battle for me.
If I HAD studied from the test bank, I would probably see he was grandstanding, realize that he didn’t actually have a way to “analyze” that type of data in a way that could actually “prove” I looked at a test bank and I would fight it.
And honestly, I would win.
of 200 students…. I would guess 75 of them actually had nothing to do with it. And probably 150 more actually did and didn’t say anything.

oh and for perspective….. I’m a teacher.

Memyself says:

Gotta side with the prof heree

And as I stated previously, I have trouble believing the students did not know that they were cheating. Bare minimum, once they sit down and see the test, red flags should have gone up. Additionally, we allegedly have students bragging about how having the test bank equated to knowing the answers before hand and that this advantage allowed them to ace the exam.

The teacher isn’t the one being graded here.

Memyself says:

why does it matter if he wrote or didn't write the questions?

At least some of the students seem to have been aware that they were not simply studying, but instead cheating. One student turned in the test bank and others were reportedly bragging about how having the test bank allowed them to know the answers on the exam beforehand.

I have trouble believing that these students were too naive to recognize that they were taking advantage of the system.

Memyself says:


Why are you taking a minor exaggeration and labeling it as extreme as “lying liarface”?

The thing is, I really fail to see why it should matter if he did or did not deceive students as to the source of the questions. The students seem to have been aware (at least some of them) that what they were doing was a form of cheating. And when they sat down to take the test, even the most naive student should have been aware. At least one was, as they turned in a form of confession. So again, who cares what the teacher did or did not do. The end result between the two actions (teachers alleged deception and students alleged cheating) are not equal.

But about the extreme judgment against the teacher: Let’s say he told all the students that the questions came from a test bank, and students accessed to the test bank for “studying”, but on the exam the questions did not come from a test bank. Would that also be lying?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Test Bank Question

First, copying is not stealing. But we’ll ignore that mistake for now. The bigger question is, what laws are you citing?

Here’s the federal law on receiving stolen property:

“Whoever receives, possesses, conceals, stores, barters, sells, or disposes of any goods, wares, or merchandise, securities, or money of the value of $5,000 or more, […] which have crossed a State or United States boundary after being stolen, unlawfully converted, or taken, knowing the same to have been stolen

Here’s California’s law:

“In California, receiving stolen property is prohibited under Penal Code 496 PC. This section makes it a crime to buy, sell, receive, conceal, or withhold property which you know to be stolen.”

Here’s Florida’s:

“(1) Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen

So where are you pulling your “regardless of your knowledge of it or not” statement from? Your ass?

nasch says:

Creation is not writing, using a non-public resource is cheating

Perhaps so. That is one obvious problem with using a test bank. Hope you don’t mind if I reply to everything here.

Why are you taking a minor exaggeration and labeling it as extreme as “lying liarface”?

Why are you taking an outright deception and labeling it as a “minor exaggeration”?

The thing is, I really fail to see why it should matter if he did or did not deceive students as to the source of the questions.

I already explained it to you as simply as I know how, so I guess I’ll just have to drop it.

And when they sat down to take the test, even the most naive student should have been aware.

I addressed that elsewhere, I think it was in response to you but it could have been someone else.

The end result between the two actions (teachers alleged deception and students alleged cheating) are not equal.

I wasn’t claiming they’re equal, I’m claiming they’re related. But you didn’t understand that, so never mind.

Let’s say he told all the students that the questions came from a test bank, and students accessed to the test bank for “studying”, but on the exam the questions did not come from a test bank. Would that also be lying?

Of course it would. I don’t understand how you can even wonder if it would be a lie. Are you using some non-standard definition of the word?

Memyself says:

Creation is not writing, using a non-public resource is cheating

1: Because it doe not appear to be an outright deception. I have yet to see any evidence that definitively claims the teacher would always write every question to every exam. Furthermore, I fail to see the intended ill-effect of said “deception”.

2: You explained it and I understood your explanation. But I do not agree with it.

3: Yes, you did address this elsewhere. Please correct me if i am mistaken, but you seem to be in agreement (more or less) with me on this aspect.

4: I understand why you hold these two aspects as related. I disagree. Do me a favor and don’t presume that simply because I disagree with your logic that I am incapable of understanding.

5: Because you seem to be holding all non truthful statements as identical. As far as I am concerned, a teacher is free to mislead students if it serves the education of the students. For example, if the test is a legitimate test of the material covered through the course of the class, and some students take the professor at his word that all the questions will come from a test bank, and try to obtain an easier grade by memorizing specific answers, the deception in question is reasonable. A test is generally meant as a random sampling of knowledge gleaned from the course in question. In the scenario provided, the test remains fair regardless of where the professor claims the questions originated.

darryl says:

Cheating in real life

So you are equating mechanical engineering with having to memorise part numbers !!! ??

Really, that is a bit silly is it not ?

If you had to look up what a sporlan ball valve was or what a 1-1/8′ ODF line is then you would be cheating..

See the difference ?? obviously not..

So if you start your new job, and your boss tells you to look up the part number for a sporlan ball valve for a 1-1/8″ ODF line.

And you reply to him.

What the fuck is a sporlan ball valve? would you consider you got that job on being honest ?

BTW: storemen look up parts numbers, engineers design parts. If you are being asked to look up part numbers, dont be calling yourself an engineer.

I think it is sad on many levels if you believe education is just where you are given a certain number of facts and sent on your way..

Because its not, education is supposed to teach people how to learn.
And you learn by studying, research, thinking about things, working things out.

You might gain some facts, if you cheat, ie the specific answers to specific questions, but that does not help you to learn how to learn.

So you are unprepared in the real world, when you are asked to take on new skills and tasks, you do not have to ability to gain the information you require to get the job done..

You dont know how to learn.

Im an engineer as well, and electronics/systems engineer, as an engineer I would NEVER be asked to someone to look up a part number. Thats not my job, I will be told some like.

“here is a list of specifications for a system, design something to meet those specifications”.

Quite often you have to learn new things, new techniques, things you did not learn in school.

And if you do not have to ability to learn, research, study, and grasp the concepts. Then you have cheated, and you failed to learn the most important lesson you ever needed.

And that is the ability to learn, reason, and think, create for yourself.

Because most questions in life, do not come from a test bank, nor do they generally have a readilly available answer.

Again, justify it all you like, you are only hurting yourself, your country, your society, your friends, your empolyers, you’re government, every tax payer. but most importantly yourself…..

darryl says:

Enough with the spin..

So watch out for anyone who attended his class, and did the exam, and also attended an ethics course.

Its a fair bet, they are the self admitted cheaters..

I hope that also includes a FAIL, for that course, and a re test of all those dirty cheats..

Sure, the students robbed the bank but its the banks fault, as they had all that nice smelling money there..

What is the difference ?

Testbank and trial exam’s are for those who study the material THEN try some example questions to test their ability and understanding of the subject.

Not to give you a bank of questions that will be ask that you just have to memorize..

Trying to deflect the blame in any way onto the teacher is just silly, really its not the teacher that has to find a career, a job, and live their life, actually knowing things, but more importantly, knowing how to learn things.

Thats what you’re tax payer funded schools are for, you pay them to teach people how to learn, not how to cheat and game the system.

It hurts everyone, if you are not capable of what you claim you are.

Ofcourse, Mike works on this principle, if you dont want to think for yourself, Mike will happily give you all the idea’s and thoughts for you. But Mike is the product of this problem, it appears he does not think about any issues, just copies what others are saying. When mike does put forward an opinion, he clearly displays little or no real knowledge of the subject matter.

(like copyright, or freedom of speech, or the Consitituion).

Because it takes almost ZERO time to check Mikes statements for truthfullness and most if not all the time, I find what Mike has said is a mis-representation of the facts. Or just outright wrong.

Here is a test question for you Mike, open book.

Write an article with the heading:

“Copyright and the first amendment, and how the Constitution relates to copyright, in in consideration the 14th Amendment”.

You might want to include a section on how it applies to the law, both Federal and State. And to the Surprime Court.

I could give you some help, but it would be interesting to hear what your opinion of Free speech and copyright relate.

That would also have to include an analysis of what free speech means, and what it applies too.

It would be interesting to see what you have to say Mike, but I do not expect great work from you, but have a go, if you are game.

If you have all this knowledge, experience and so on, you keep saying you have.

Then give us your opus, your “E=MC2”.

So show us all your expertise, your experience and deep knowledge of this subject. Give us some substance please..

Paddy Duke (profile) says:

Not all that surprising

I?m having trouble following your point, but I think you are claiming that rote learning, the ?teach to the test? method, reaps better results than methods that encourage creative problem solving.

If that is what you?re saying, I have to disagree with you.

I think the most important skills you can teach a student are critical, independent thinking and the novel application of existing knowledge.

Currently, most schools in the US and the UK teach data retention, or how well you can remember the right answer to that one question. Mix up the question a bit, and a lot of students aren?t able to use what they know to formulate a new answer.

Understanding why something works is a great deal more useful than just knowing how it works.

I will say that I think probably only one or two of the students in this story were actually creatively problem solving. The other 198 most likely just took the lazy, albeit smart, option and followed, but there is still nothing wrong with what any of them did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Test Bank Question

You do realize a quick google search for test banks for that book turns up plenty of places for ANYONE to get the info (some pay sites, some p2p, etc). I’m sure none of the 600 students in a college level strategic management class would know how to google the info they are looking for (you know… strategic management of their study time and all …)

Notta Student says:

Testing is not merely about getting a grade

Let us not forget that testing is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate to the teacher that he or she has mastered the material. Obtaining the answers to test questions and regurgitating them circumvents the process and makes the student undeserving at the degree that he or she receives after four years. Maybe if we taught students to understand and work within the process rather than going around it we wouldn’t have Wall Street guys getting creative with system and taking down our economy.

Anony says:

If the professor specifically told the students that he wrote his own tests (which he did), then it cannot possibly be cheating. The students were using a resource of test questions that, as far as they knew and had been told, would NOT be on the test, but that would test their knowledge of the subject matter.

In order for it to be cheating, the students would have to have known ahead of time that those questions would be part of the test, or have a strong suspicion that that was the case. Instead, they had been told the opposite – that none of those questions would be on the test – and hence it was not cheating to use them as a means of test preparation.

Zdog says:


I especially like how the video practically demands a higher letter grade on the exam. Why? Did they earn it? Even if the instructor didn’t wrote the exam ( and I’m not saying that’s right). That doesn’t mean you deserve a higher grade. Wait till you get out in the world, where you need to earn what you get. Define Ethics? Define integrity.

Anonymous Coward says:


“There’s an opportunity that I may very well write a question that even I couldn’t answer”

That’s the quote where he claims to write the questions himself as well as create them. Therefore he did lie because he wouldn’t “write” a question he couldn’t answer, he would copy and paste a question he couldn’t answer.

Ron says:

This isn't cheating and the Prof is lazy and incompetent.

We’ve all been there. Lazy professors teaching the same course by rote. Too lazy to write their own questions. Too lazy to grade the tests (hey, isn’t that what TA’s are for?). Too lazy to “teach” more than a few courses a day and then complain they are underpaid.

What this “professor” is alleging isn’t true and is actually defamation. In no way, shape or form is getting sample questions cheating, particularly when the Prof says he writes his own test questions. The only person who should be kicked out of that school is the lazy Prof himself…

Anonymous Coward says:

Teaching the test

There is a deeper issue about learning here. If passing an artificial test is what matters to you in education then the students cheated the test. If learning is what matters then the professor cheated the students.

I taught classes at a US University after having been an undergraduate in the UK. I was stunned by the way tests were administered by some professors in the US.

There is a culture of fear around testing and grades. There is huge pressure from students – and sometimes phone calls from their parents – if students fail or do poorly. It is right that they should stand up against bad teaching, but unfortunately its often bad grades they complain about not bad teaching.

That’s even when they never turned up for class, or haven’t read the book(s). It’s can come down to your word against theirs (and their parents cash if the administration is to get involved).

That is somewhat relieved if you use a test written by someone else.

If you use a standard test from a publisher you are not responsible. You were not unfair. It was marked multiple choice by a computer, how is that unfair? How is that my problem? I didn’t make up the questions, talk to the central publisher.

Its unfair because it largely ignores the way you learn. For instance, in the UK almost all tests are essay based. Not that this is the only answer, (and the UK has plenty other problems) but the attitude to assessment different. In Psychology you write science papers in a couple of hours. In mathematics you have to show working and that counts more than answers. In computer programming you have to show code. What counts is that you show your thinking – preferably original thinking that goes beyond the set reading. Tests are there to demonstrate how you think about what you know. It’s not just what you know, otherwise you won’t get an A.

When I was teaching, I couldn’t understand how I could have done any teaching without writing the test myself. It is simply inconceivable.

There is no such thing as teaching that is not teaching to the test.

The test is the goal of your learning. That is what structures learning – and helps you remember stuff as many studies show. The important point is to create valid tests that exercise your learning.

On the other hand, you have to deal with certain groups of students that would complain. And you knew exaclty who those one or two would be. And they would take out an inordinate amount of your time – which could have been spent on other students.

In one notoriously lecture based class I assisted a famous professor. He had me take attendance in a 200 person class because he’d been threatened with lawsuits on multiple occasions from very rich, very angry parents who’s children he had failed.

He only got away with that because he is famous, invited them to bring it on because he could publicise it up and down the country and was able to prove that the student in question turned up for less than half the lectures. However, he told me that he doubted he could have continued to run his class to the standard he wanted were it not for his fame. He got plently of pressure from the administration, but he had enough power to keep that at bay. I took a couple of his classes as a student too. They weren’t that hard at all – if you turned up and payed attention. Many students really love him and get a huge amount from his classes. I know I did.

However, if you’re a nobody and a recent hire at a University, it can be a hard road to walk if you give out something other than a short answer/multiple choice even pre-published test. You invite criticism, you have to defend yourself and that can be tough.

And apart from anything else, if you ask real questions you have to actually mark the damn essays. That takes a long time in a 200 person class. If you give multiple choice tests it takes seconds for the computer to mark them.

On the other hand, that’s a valuable, important part of teaching – and you learn about the students. Anyway, some of the toughest, most fiendish exams I’ve taken have been open book exams.

I am totally on the side of the students in this case. The professor appears to have been lazy, lied to his students and been self righteous about it later.

There is a systemic problem here and the arguments around testing and cheating are symptoms that demonstrate this quite clearly.

healthstudent says:

Progression of exam events:

1. Professor told students he was writing his own questions

2. Students utalised whatever materials they could find to study and drill on the subject, knowing that they would not be able to find the professor’s test questions- Yes, drilling is a legitimate study method that enables rote learning and codifiying of data/concepts required and is enhanced through the use of quizzes and notes from sources other than textbook and own notes. This helps ensure no gaps in knowledge and that a solid understanding of concepts is established.

3. In the course of 2. some students may have questions from or resembling the questions from the testbank- and the sources may or may not have stated this. (Fact: the internet is full of learning materials derived from other students/courses)

4. Professor lied about writing his own questions, so students who took the extra effort to test knowledge through practice quizzes may have encountered questions previously practised.

Does this not seem like a reward for taking extra effort with study? Certainly I would not regard it as “obtaining unfair advantage by trickery” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cheat)as there was not knowledge on the part of the students that the testbank questions would be assessed.

cb says:

The use of test banks

As someone who has been on both sides of this issue (as an undergrad at a large university, with many classes that relied solely on tests that were probably generated from a test bank, and as an adjunct professor at the same university who has many departmental policies, such as test format, that I am held to), I agree that the students were not cheating. The test bank is available to the public, and if students have the ingenuity to find it and study it, believing that these would not be the exact test questions, more power to them. Frankly, I have a bigger problem with the professor lying about writing the questions.

I think, however, that there might also be some confusion about how test banks can be used. As one commenter pointed out, test banks contain HUNDREDS of questions. For the purposes of my classes, I combine questions that I have written, questions students have submitted for extra credit (like another commenter suggested, as well), AND some questions from the test bank. However, these test bank questions are selected very carefully from the hundreds available. I try to choose questions that relate to concepts I emphasize in the classroom, and that ask students to do more than simply select a regurgitated definition. The test bank that I have will explain whether the question is asking for an application of a concept, or connecting concepts with previous chapters, etc. So I try to pick questions that require some higher order thinking, and that closely match the major ideas I want them to take from the class.

Call this laziness if you will, but as has been pointed out before, professors often ARE forced to justify their use of questions on a test, or how the questions are graded. And for a young professor, who hasn’t yet built up a reputation yet, this can be a struggle with self-created questions. By using multiple formats, I feel that I am able to carefully craft a test that allows my students to demonstrate mastery in the most important concepts.

healthstudent says:

“responsible for _creating_ and adminstering the midterm and final exams” (source: second embedded video)

Create is defined as “to cause to come into existence”

For a bit of context, I pulled the instruction manual of a testbank (free to access and not restricted to professors I might note) and they clearly differentiate between generating a quiz with their test bank and creating a bank of your own questions to manipulate using their software:

“You can modify a test by:
? Editing its name, description, and instructions
? Adding, rewording, or removing questions
? Changing question point values”

“the process of creating … For each question, you define the question, provide the answer(s), specify a point value, select options, and save it”

Looking at this its very clear that testbank producers do not consider generating a list of their questions to be creating an exam. One might even wonder what copyright issues would be raised by considering the professor the creator of material he took from elsewhere without altering.(http://info.coursecompass.com/help/ccinqs2.pdf)

At best I would consider the professor a compiler and a poor one at that if he restricted himself to only one resource. Additionally, I would be interested to know which textbook and testbank he utilised, as many do provide a password and url for students to sign in and practise.

Foo Basra says:

A real-life example

Studying engineering, I would often by two or three other unrequired textbooks to broaden my resources and give me more perspective on the subject – every textbook is a little different, focusing on different areas, and by basically tripling the amount of studying I was doing I learned a lot more than I would have merely following the syllabus. BUT, unknown to me, the prof was using one of those other textbooks to draw test questions from. When I noticed this I informed the prof that I had already done those questions while studying, and he admitted that if there was any fault in the situation it was his, so he gave me another, hand-made, test to take. I did fine, mostly because I had studied using every available resource.

Quinn is basically trying to blame his students for doing the same thing. I think he needs to take a step back, remind himself of what his duties are, and lighten up on the students. At the very worst they misinterpreted his earlier comments (when he claimed he wrote the tests himself) while the prof’s worst might include not doing his job very well.

It’s a grey area, and both sides need to learn from this experience, but the first step is that the prof needs to admit his complicity in the problem.

cindy (profile) says:

This discussion misses the big picture

Thank you for integrating real world scenarios into your core curriculum. “Teaching to a test” in no way prepares todays students for what they will ultimately face in life. Too many professors are crippling their students before they even get out of the starting gate; which, in turn, handicaps their future employers by saddling them with employees that do not know how to fully utilize available resources, conceptualize and effectively implement solutions and to be valuable contributors to an organization from the outset…in short, practical application of theory is necessary to successfully navigate in today’s market and should be an integral part of our education process.

cindy (profile) says:

Does it turn on a word??


Clearly, as evidenced by too many of the comments posted here, it is wishful thinking to hope that more than a handful will truly understand what you are illustrating; and, personal integrity in our society appears to be on the decline.
Rampant software pirating, illegal movie/music downloads and outright plagiarisms are becoming the accepted norm rather than the exception. Entitlement and laziness are rarely traits an employer will look for in a prospective candidate… originality, the ability to conceptualize and implement viable solutions to positively impact business outcomes and knowing they can absolutely trust the members of their team are vital to the success of any organization.
The students who chose to step outside of the boundaries of ethical behavior should be held accountable; otherwise, the truly valuable lessons of honesty and respect are lost. And, once again, propagation of the insidious trait known as deceit continues.
Note to students ? you either know the material, or you don?t. The better question for you to contemplate is: Why did these students feel compelled to look outside of their curriculum and classroom instruction for a shortcut to success? ?possibly due to the fact they were not properly focused and dedicated to their studies in the first place?

Professor (user link) says:


What this professor did was generous but wrong. What he should have done is let the investigation proceed without a deal and once the cheating students were found out, have the university deal with them according to university policy. There is no excuse for a student to cheat. Regardless of what a professor says or does, each individual student is responsible for their own behavior. The fact that some students bragged about cheating means that the students knew the difference between cheating and ethical behavior. Making everyone take a new test is also inappropriate. The test being thrown out would be enough, then adjust the values of the remaining material. Taking the test over is an inappropriate waste of the student’s time, and takes away from the time allotted to the teaching of the material the class needs to cover. By making non-cheating students retake the test he is compounding the crime already committed against them by the cheating students.

Cheating in today’s schools begins early, as early as elementary school. Too often young students are not held responsible for their cheating. By high school cheating is almost epidemic, and many students see it as a way of life. So, is it any surprise that student cheating at the university is being defended as is shown in the student made video. Also, because this happens at the university and is accepted and not fully disciplined, is it any wonder that our society of adults finds it difficult to know what is ethical both in business and in their personal lives.

Cheating is only one symptom of a society that has become too tolerant and too politically correct. We give everyone too many chances, we accept mediocrity and second best as a “good try.” When are we going to demand that students give their best, and when they fail let them know that they have failed and that they need to learn more, try harder, and do better. We should not be telling them “nice try” and “that’s ok, if you confess, I’ll give you another chance.” American education will only get better when teachers are allowed to hold students totally responsible for their work and their actions, and do so.

Dr Ann Brandt-Williams (user link) says:


Hurray for Dr Quinn!
As for the student’s who cheated YES obtaining a copy of a any test bank related to your course is not a study guide it is considered unethical and cheating. I see a bit of irony as the course Dr Quinn is teaching is about Strategic Management – how many cheaters will go on to be CEOs thinking that they deserve to help themselves to client funds for self profit?
So Dr Quinn isn’t perfect; so his test questions were sometimes ambiguous – life isn’t perfect and is ambiguous most of the time! I challenge any cheater to develop a completely ‘fair’ exam. They don’t exist as much as we professors would like to provide our students with the ideal exam – trying to be “fair’ to over 600 students is probably about +/- 3 standard deviations away in normal distribution curve lingo.
I have a PhD obtained the hard way – working and singly supporting 2 daughters in college at the time. I had professors that had high expectations, that made me do statistics until I didn’t want to see another letter or number – but I did it anyway. I also had a few unethical and unprofessional professors as well and I found out that it did no good to whine – they had a longer tenure than I at the time.
The bottom line is that to learn information in today’s world you have to spend more time getting involved in learning and less time figuring out how to cheat your way around it.
So to the self-righteous cheaters – tough luck
To the cheaters who thought it wouldn’t hurt ‘this’ time – I hope you learned some lessons in your ethics course
AND to those students who did it the honest way – doesn’t it suck that you still had to take another exam because a few sociopaths decided to have it their way?
Dr Ann Brandt-Williams
Glendale AZ

Geoff says:

I see fault on both sides. Granted, the fact that he said he writes the test raises some red flags. Clearly this isn’t the case. Even if we excuse him and put it down as him being confused about what he meant to say on the first day of class, he should probably try and write his own tests to ensure integrity in his students.

But the rebuttal video that those students posted are trying to make it sound like that they’re absolved from their roles in this matter and it’s all Professor Quinns fault that they chose to cheat. You’re not really studying if you just remember that you select answer A, B, C, or D for question X. It seems like the amount of time and money they spend on memorizing a test bank, maybe could be spent on learning something in college.

Nicki says:

Good evening. I hope I?m allowed to post this. I?m a teacher from Germany and had planned to use this story for a classrom discussion. Unfortunately I?m a bit shaky on the following detail: was the question-pool the professor used readily available to students? Here in Germany most publishers offer a hughe range of test-question collections for students to train with. Some even offer collections of the final exams of the last ten to fifteen years in a certain subject. These collections are a common study tool for most students. Was it the same with the question-pool in question? Or were those questions specifically created for this professor and so for his use only? Because I have to admit, if the questions were readily available to the students and they used them to study for the test, I wouldn?t consider it cheating but efficient studying. Thank you very much for your help.

Dr Ann Brandt-Williams says:

Re:Test Banks

To respond to your question. I taught at a community college for over 25 years and our department held the belief that a test-bank was only for use by professors to create tests for students, in other words confidential and only to be used by professor/instructor. Our department made it a point to collect tests and make sure all were returned so that the actual questions were not available in the public domain. Many instructor manuals and student study guides that come with textbooks may have sample questions that can be used for quizzes and may also exist in a test bank but do not reflect the entire test bank.
Some professors may be careless with test banks as we all receive many ‘complimentary’ texts that come with ancillaries including a test bank. If these are disposed of in a public waste system they are easier to obtain. Our department disposes of test banks by putting them in with the confidential shred waste. No matter how students obtain a formal test bank, it is considered unethical to use this source as a study guide and thus use is considered cheating. If the students had come to Dr Quinn and asked if this was an acceptable way to study for the test – I am sure he would not have approved. The fact that students were secretive about their methods for studying for the exam also suggests that they knew what they were doing was unethical. I hope this helps in your understanding. DrABW

D says:

faulty logic?

didn’t read the other 200+ comments so I apologize if mine is redundant. BUT:

From what I can tell, your logic is faulty because those test bank questions are INTENDED for the professor to USE for his test and ARE NOT meant to be available to the students.

Does it mean that the professor isn’t lazy? No. Did he mislead the students regarding writing his test? Possibly. But neither of those is really the point. The point is that he had every legal right to use those questions for his test and the students were not intended to gain access to them– that makes it cheating.

M. says:


Chance are they couldn’t just remember that the letter they chose. The test bank was 700 questions (although the test was only 50), and trying to remember that many letters would be incredibly difficult.

At any rate, the answers are usually automatically scrambled for each different test version. Using a test bank wouldn’t mean the students could not learn something, it merely means that they limited the material they needed to study.

openmike says:

Lazy Professor = Not Cheating

I’m 52 years old. In 1980, I had an Auditing (accounting class) in which the textbook had an optional workbook which had to be purchased separately. On the first test, which I found difficult, I received a “D”, on the second test I received a “C”. At that time I spoke to classmates about the test difficulty. Some of them had scored “A”‘s with nearly 100% accuracy. There was no curve.

The professor had taken his questions straight from the workbook. They were unchanged. I bought the work book and began to score straight A’s as well. Were the other students cheating by using the optional workbook? Was the professor simply lazy? Interesting questions. I’m not sure if I know the answers. But I did pass the class.

Graduated long ago says:


You, my friend, are a dolt of epic proportions. I haven’t been in the game for a long time now. But reviewing old tests was certainly considered ethical in my time. The tech didn’t exist back then to easily secure test banks. But here’s the bigger question – what naive putz believes that every single test bank in academia isn’t “compromised” and available online.

MS says:

Professors and Testbanks

This is such an interesting debate. I have had many professors who can’t be bothered to craft their own questions for exams. Textbook publishers literally wipe their … by providing EVERYTHING from sample syllabi, digital animations, PowerPoints, videos, sample assignments and projects, solutions manuals, and of course… test banks. So many instructors just take the easy road and use these pre-designed resources from the text publishers. The book publishers actually compete on how many “extras” they can make for the professors to tempt them to select their book for adoption in their classes. After all, the more professors who adopt a book from a publisher, the more $ that publisher will see. Think about it! It makes sense economically. Some publishers are even providing new systems that grade homework for the teachers automatically! However, I have no sympathy for professors who are lazy and do not take the time to write their own exams. Any professor who can’t take the time to create custom material doesn’t have the right to expect students to not use every available resource they can to earn the highest grade possible. We pay for professors to instruct us and to take the time to PREPARE for their classes. Part of this includes writing their own tests. If they don’t have enough respect for me and the money I paid to take their class to do this, then I will certainly NOT have any misgivings about studying that test bank like crazy before the exam. The instructor in this video is actually so lazy he made his TAs re-write the exam! Where I go to college, it’s still “old school.” We have one professor for our classes that actually teaches and prepares for classes by him or herself. Thankfully, most of our professors take the time to consider our learning important and grade our work, not push it off on a TA.

MS says:

Re:Test Banks

I get that test banks and other instructor ancillaries are intended for instructor use only and are confidential. However, it is asinine in this digital age for any professor to expect these questions to be 100% secure. At your school, they may have been diligent to secure these resources and shred them. At many other schools, this is not the case. Many test banks have found their way online in one way or another. Go ahead. Google some questions verbatim from a question bank. You might be surprised. However, I’d like to raise the following point. If you go to the doctor’s office, does the doctor provide the services you are paying for, or a third party? While there are support staff (equivalent to TAs) at the doctor’s office, the doctor himself or herself is the one who performs the exam of the patient that is being paid for. Now in terms of professors, if they are using someone else’s work (the book author’s question banks) on their own test, are they producing the product that a student is paying for? I’m old school and I expect my professors to have enough respect for my education (that we as students pay a LOT for which fund administrative and faculty salaries) to create their own tests. Is that too much to ask?

randy says:

Well geeze professor maybe if you were not such a lazy ass you would have wrote an original exam to begin with and perhaps even wrote and published your own book. No that would mean earning your 100+K a year salary and actually providing your high paying and deserving students with a customized education that they could not get anywhere but your classroom. You chose to promote and collect a commission from the university of McGraw Hill (as I call it) or Cengage and extort from your students. I call it extortion because the education university students are getting in a class taught by Mcgraw hill authors and publishers can be achieved by simply purchasing the book off of amazon and reading it at home. So now the difference between the education of the person paying tuition and the person just buying and reading college level books is nothing, however only one of those people get a degree because they paid for it. That is extortion because you need a degree to get most high paying jobs. So even though you can achieve the knowledge necessary for performing that job, well sort of, through the Mcgraw hill website and book store you cannot get that job unitil you pay the institution. Serves you well and the extra 96 hours you and your staff had to put in to write a new exam does not exonerate you of your role in gutting the American education system.

techteach (profile) says:


I have been teaching various subjects in college for over ten years. I cannot stress further as covered above, testbanks are only available to instructors, and are prohibited by the publisher to be available to students. Knowing the internet, I know students will and can get a hold of testbanks for my classes. Which means as an intelligent instructor, I cannot depend 100% on a testbank as I may have done in the past. I use testbanks to assure that the subject matter I test for is within the objectives of the textbook and my class. I inform my students that I may use a testbank for some content, but the availablility of material on the internet makes it foolish to depend 100% on a testbank. Since it is illegal for a student to purchase or have possession of a testbank, I consider it cheating.

I have many students who purchase the solutions manual or the teacher editions of the text from the internet. Which is perfectly legal to possess. The testbank hover is not.

Some terms, I may have as many as 250 students to grade and manage from several classes. It is not about laziness, it is about assuring you get the best quality education. Some 200, 300 and 400 level courses are so specific like Operating Systems no single exam can evaluate your mastery of knowledge, I teach such courses with open book exams.

BJG says:

tests, exams, assessments

I teach English (oral skills, grammar, writing and reading)to international students at a university. I have been appreciative of publishers providing tests with the textbook to cover the material that the professor will present. Assuming that you’ve covered the chapter well,these are the best possible tests to use. Writing your own exam is exceedingly time consuming and will not result in a better quality exam than what the publisher provides, unless there’s material you want to test that is not in the textbook, in which case you can add an additional page to test that material. It is not a matter of being a lazy instructor. It is a matter of using the tools provided with the curriculum which are research based. This also permits the instructor to provide a specific review for the students on what they will be tested on, and what they need to study. Remember I said before, the entire chapter is covered, but you are not going to test on every single detail. What English language skills will benefit the student the most is what I aim for.

profb says:

what is a resource?

I think what people are forgetting is that these resources are designed only for instructors to have access to-in that they verify your status as an instructor before you get this stuff. The test banks are to help instructors write tests-yes you can add your own and edit them in any way-but they are not provided to the students for a reason (some books DO provide other sample quizzes and questions to help students study). Why is it LAZY of an instructor to utilize a resource provided to him? (lying about it is another topic). If someone gave you a tool to make your job a little easier wouldn’t you use it? That said, the students did nothing wrong in legally purchasing the testbank questions from a website. Why isn’t the issue here why a third party company can get access to something clearly designed for instructors and sell it to just any one. That is the real issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good studying, hardly cheating

I’m a private tutor in LA and I recommend to my students that they do things like this to get an idea of what sorts of things are important in a text. Moreover, oftentimes when students struggle to figure out what information is most important in a text, it’s due largely to poor lecturing on the part of a professor/teacher.

Unless this was explicitly prohibited, which I find hard to believe it was, or something else was going on, there is precisely zero reason to condemn the actions of these students in any way. Again, it’s an excellent study technique for a student struggling with material.

rh says:

Real problem where I work

A senior professor not only uses the same test from a publisher’s test bank, but allows students to use their cell phones during the exams.
The head of the department is lower ranked than the senior professor, so she puts up with it.
If I did what my more senior colleague did, not only would I be fired but I would probably be sanctioned so I couldn’t work again.

eric (user link) says:


Not all that surprising

I had some good professors and some bad professors in school. I certainly had some that simply recycled questions directly from the book publishers. Sadly, those were the classes in which I learned the least. I never had to think – even without looking up the questions and answers – all of the questions were based on the textbooks rather than forcing you to look elsewhere or go through your own thought process.

I really hope the school does something about this guy.

Pete says:

The Students can not copy Verbatim answers. They are just plain dumb. Anyone that sanctions that behavior is retarded. They also haven’t read the Rules they signed-up for, when they signed up at School, and quite possibly on the Computers. While the professor, no doubt, is lazy… how would you feel, if you graded 600 tests, and 300 of them had the ‘exact’ same answer written in for their Essay questions? What else is he supposed to do? He wouldn’t be doing his job, if he totally ignored that 300 Students had the exact same answer written on Essay questions. Everybody knows that Plagiarism is grounds for Dismissal.

mark (profile) says:

Lazy writing

The riter of this article was almost as lazy as the students within the story contained therein. If they has done any research at all they would have found that the major problem was this Test Bank was hacked from it’s publisher. Read this statement made by their representative:

The publisher whose test bank was accessed before a mid-term exam by at least 200 students in a senior-level business class at the University of Central Florida said that students would have had to circumvent security in order to get to it, a spokeswoman for the company told Inside Higher Ed Thursday.

The company, Pearson Higher Education, offers test banks to instructors only, said spokeswoman Wendy Spiegel. It is never made available to students, either for sale or for free, she said. "We do everything we can to protect the integrity of this material," she said via e-mail, and supplied a copy of the alert that accompanies the program.

The security of the test bank emerged as a significant point of contention in the headline-grabbing story of Prof. Richard Quinn, who made all 600 students in his business management course re-take their midterm exams after he discovered one-third of them had gotten access to the test bank beforehand, and had aced it at levels never seen before. Students tried to turn the tables on Quinn, accusing him of dishonesty and laziness because he told them he was responsible for writing the test. They said they were no more guilty than a student who bought a print study guide and took a sample test in the back.

Spiegel said that Pearson representatives verify faculty members’ identities before they are granted access to the test bank. Approved faculty members are asked to select a user ID and password.

While Siegel said that Pearson does have some programs that offer practice tests to students, the one Quinn used, Strategic Management, was not among them. "These practice booklets are sold to students and DO NOT contain any questions that are part of our instructor test banks," she wrote.

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