Dozens of Dartmouth College students allegedly used hand-held “clickers” to fake their attendance in the school’s largest course last semester, according to student newspaper The Dartmouth.
Clickers are small wireless devices registered to individual students that allow them to answer questions or record their attendance from their seat. About a dozen courses at Dartmouth use clickers, which have been used at the school since at least 2006, The Dartmouth reports.
The cheating controversy stems from accusations that students in “Sports, Ethics, and Religion” — which had 272 students last semester, including many athletes — used absent students’ clickers to make it seem like their missing peers were answering questions in class.
Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer — who teaches the course — reportedly began to suspect that the number of student responses to clicker questions did not match with the actual attendance of each class. According to The Dartmouth, “On Oct. 30, Balmer received approximately 250 clicker responses to his in-class question … But after Balmer and the teaching assistants handed out one paper version of the question per person, it was clear that only about 200 students were present.”
According to The Dartmouth, “Attendance and participation account for about 15% of a student’s grade in the class.”
Dartmouth has reportedly charged 64 students with cheating and has suspended “most” of the accused students for a semester, local newspaper the Valley News reports.
Balmer has said the course was initially designed to help student athletes who may have trouble keeping up with the workload at the Ivy League college. About 68% of the students enrolled in “Sports, Ethics and Religion” are Dartmouth varsity athletes, The Dartmouth reports.
A Dartmouth spokesperson sent Business Insider the following statement:
The Academic Honour Principle is a foundational element of a Dartmouth education. The integrity and excellence of that experience require trust between our faculty and students. For this reason we treat all academic honour code violations as major misconduct. The actions of a group of students for possible violations of the honour principle relating to misrepresentation of class attendance and participation are under judicial review.
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