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Dartmouth Students Accused of Cheating on Virtual Exams

— April 20, 2021

College students are warned about academic dishonesty sanctions.

Several students at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, New Hampshire, are being investigated for potentially cheating on virtual closed-book exams.  A witness came forward earlier this year and told Dartmouth officials that some students were using Canvas, an online course management system, at the same time their exams were being taken.

Some believe that the pandemic is putting undue pressure on the students.

“The events taking shape at Geisel have left students feeling isolated, silenced and powerless,” Robin Allister, a former Geisel faculty member, said.  “I’m worried about their mental health and overall well-being.  They’re under immense pressure.”

Despite concerns, however, the Office of Community Standards and Accountability did not receive more reports of academic dishonesty than usual and the number of students involved only increased “within reason,” OCSA director Katharine Strong said, adding, “We have seen a number of reports that is on par with what we would normally see in a spring term.”

Dartmouth Students Accused of Cheating on Virtual Exams
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

A report was forwarded to the Committee on Student Performance and Conduct (CSPC), and Geisel Dean Duane Compton announced Dartmouth students have violated the school’s honor code and may face serious sanctions.

“It depends on what the individual student was found responsible for,” Compton said. “This is a circumstance that none of us thought we would be in.  It’s not something we take lightly.”  Compton did not want to have the individuals identified, although he said they were first- and second-year medical students, and at least one was given a warning letter detailing “suspension or separation” from the school.

Data shows thirty-three students were referred to the Committee on Standards during the 2018-2019 school year, and the long-term average is 31 cases per year.

Since the incident, Geisel School of Medicine “has begun electronic proctoring of exams.  I still have faith in the honor code.  Most of our students are actually doing things appropriately.”

Derik Hertel, director of communications shared the medical school’s statement, which reads, “The ongoing Honor Code review has been difficult for everyone in the Geisel community already experiencing an extremely challenging year.  Recognizing that the process is not complete, there is a limit to the information we can disclose.  Once the process is finished, and consistent with our policy guidelines, more detail can be shared.  The extent of the potential infractions prompted the CSPC to conduct a review spanning the entire academic year.  Past exam activity was included in the review to ensure fairness for all students, including those not suspected of violations but whose grades could be affected by any changes to scores of their peers.  All students received the opportunity to present relevant information and statements to the CSPC, and in multiple instances, students admitted to the conduct in question.  After final decisions are made and communicated, the appeal process is available to any students with concerns that meet the criteria for consideration. Of equal importance is that we refrain from sharing information regarded as personally identifying any student in accordance with FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] and out of respect for student right to privacy.”


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Number of academic dishonesty incidents during spring term remains within normal range

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