Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Half Of IU Dental Class Ensnared In Cheating Scandal

The Star's Shari Rudavsky has a report on a widespread cheating scandal at IU's School of Dentistry which has led to disciplinary action being taken against half the students in the second-year class. Rudavsky writes:

Nearly half the students in the Indiana University School of Dentistry's second-year class have been disciplined for their roles in a cheating scandal in which students broke into password-protected files to view exam material before tests.

The school's Faculty Council voted Friday to dismiss nine of the students, suspend 16 for periods ranging from three to 24 months and issue letters of reprimand to 21 students for violating the school's professional conduct code. The class has 95 students.

Cheating students took advantage of e-mails that professors sent a few days before tests, administrators said. Those messages contained password-protected images, such as X-rays, that were part of the exams.

Typically, on the day of a test, the professor would tell students the password so they could open the e-mail, look at the images and answer any relevant questions.

But in a number of cases, some students determined the password in advance and shared that information with others, said Dr. Lawrence Goldblatt, dean of the dentistry school.

"Then they used the password to gain an unauthorized advantage over their classmates," Goldblatt said.

Some of the students who illegally obtained the passwords did so by using commercial code-cracking software, he said. Others learned previous passwords and tried variations of those to gain access.

The reprimanded students knew of their classmates' actions but did not report them, a violation of the school's honor code, Goldblatt said.

Another student brought the cheating to the attention of school officials in late February. The school then conducted a two-month investigation that resulted in Friday's decisions, which the students have five days to appeal.

Indiana University is the third dentistry school to weather a recent cheating incident.

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