Volume 93, Issue 23

Thursday, October 7, 1999


BOG's dog race ready to begin

Trent students want out of CFS

McGill cracks down on cheating

Over the knee could equal out of your tree

Customer is casualty in airline wars

Study clears up vision question


Caught on Campus

McGill cracks down on cheating

By Nina Chiarelli
Gazette Staff

Cheating students at McGill University beware – Big Brother is now marking your exams.

Doug Harpp, professor of chemistry at McGill has designed a computer program which will enable professors to closely monitor the cheating practices of students taking multiple choice exams.

"Basically it's a program to look at the answers of every student and compare them," Harpp said. "This way we can take a large class and compare statistics."

Harpp said the idea for the program came from needing to prove two McGill students were cheating. "It really is very shocking. In the end, our program clearly showed six percent of any single version exams, with permissive seating, were cheated."

Doug Link, director of Western's social sciences computing laboratory said Western is already using a similar program called Scan Exam. "It was designed to mark multiple choice exams and enable the professor to make the questions better. As a side tool, there is a cheating analysis," Link said. He added the software is used to allay possibilities of cheating.

"It has suggested to my knowledge 10 cases in which a scholastic offence has occurred in the last 15 months," said Michael Owens, associate dean of science. "I think it works."

Owens said the program is used at the discretion of the course coordinator. He was quick to point out the faculty does not take action on statistics alone.

"Only when the program suggests there is an unlikely similarity between two papers, or there has been a report from a proctor, do we take action," he said.

Harpp said McGill, unlike Western has adopted a policy to inform students of the program.

Owens said the university does not widely publicize it. "I think it works because the more [information] students know about the system, the less they are tempted to misbehave. But we don't put up a big red flag."

Western's VP-academic Greg Moran, said anything used to deter students from copying is a great idea. "I don't think cheating has any place at university."

To Contact The News Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999