Academic Dishonesty Continues in the Management Department
Thirty more students caught cheating in light of Murray incident
As the spring semester begins, 30 students are facing failing grades on their transcripts for cheating in Professor Ray Orrange's MGQ 301: Statistical Decisions in Management class at the end of last semester.
This incident of widespread academic dishonesty is especially concerning to faculty in the School of Management in light of what happened in David Murray's Introduction to Management Info Systems online-based class, MGS 351, last semester.
"I have been here 19 years and I have had various episodes of academic dishonesty," said Orrange, adjunct associate professor in the organization and human resources department. "I have had over 20,000 students, but this was the largest episode I have had and on the heels of what happened in David Murray's class. It was disappointing to see that happen on such a large scale again."
Every semester, students in his junior-level, three-credit class, are given a homework "case" assignment that asks them to predict the salaries of various individuals, according to Orrange.
"In this case [the students] were given some data and they had to essentially analyze different aspects of the data," Orrange said. "The students had to predict the employee's salary based strictly on the employee's gender and then they were asked to predict the salary based on how many years the person had worked for the company."
In an effort to discourage cheating, Orrange allows his students to work in groups of four or five on this project and explains the assignment thoroughly in class. Orrange estimated that the assignment could have been completed in less than an hour.
Despite taking these measures to prevent students from cheating, 30 students from Orrange's fall class approached students who had taken the class the semester before, copied this homework assignment and turned it in as their own. Orrange discovered the students had cheated when, upon grading the assignments, he found that the students were submitting the previous year's answers.
"I use the same cases every semester, but I tweak those cases so the answers are different every semester," Orrange said. "The first few answers in each assignment might have the same answers but the later questions are each slightly different."
The students that Orrange caught cheating all received a failing grade in the course. While Orrange could have requested that the words "academic dishonesty" appear on the transcripts next to the letter grade, he decided that giving the students a failing grade was sufficient.
"The ‘F' [I gave the students who cheated] is the same ‘F' as someone who goofed off and signed up for the course but never showed up," Orrange said. "I had the option of attaching the words ‘academic dishonesty' to the ‘Fs' but I chose not to do that."
While Orrange feels that some faculty might find his decision to fail the students harsh, he thinks that it is a correct punishment because they violated the university's standards of academic integrity.
"[Some] would argue that a ‘F' in the course is over-the-top because the assignment wasn't a huge part of the [student's final] grade," Orrange said. "But my attitude is that those students turned in a statement of academic integrity that says that this is my work and my work alone, and they [broke that promise]."
In Murray and Orrange's classes, students were able to cheat because they obtained previous copies of exams or homework assignments that remained unchanged or almost unchanged from previous years. While Orrange acknowledges that students cheated partially because he issues the same assignments each year, he does not plan on changing the homework cases each semester. David Murray did not return The Spectrum's phone calls.
"I am not going to use different cases because the alternative is to use Harvard Business Cases that the students get charged for," Orrange said. "The cases that [I use], I write them and there is no cost to the students. I simply expect the students to do their own work; I do not think that that is too much to ask."
Students like Alex Goodnough, a junior chemistry major, feel that teachers should be made to frequently change exams and homework assignments to help prevent cheating.
"In a perfect world, the professor shouldn't really have to change [exams and assignments from year to year]," Goodnough said. "But human nature dictates that if you don't change them, people are still going to pass the class without really learning the material. It would be in the best interest of the dishonest and the honest students if the assignments were [consistently] changed."
Even though Orrange is not changing the way he teaches his class, he is going to ask his students to agree to an additional academic integrity statement before they turn homework in. Students will be notified that submitting someone else's work will result in an "F" in the course.
Katherine Ferguson, associate dean for the School of Management, spoke to The Spectrum briefly regarding how her department plans to deal with cheating this semester.
"The incidents in David Murray's and Ray Orrange's classes have made us realize that cheating is not just a UB problem, but is an issue at universities across the country," Ferguson said.
While she could not specifically comment on what measures professors like David Murray are taking to prevent academic dishonesty, Ferguson mentioned that her department is considering making students agree and sign an "academic honor code."
Professor Orrange commented that an honor code is a good idea, but he is not certain of its possible success in preventing cheating.
"I think [an honor code] would be difficult to implement because you would need the support of all the faculty as well as all the students," Orrange said. "I am not sure enough people have the courage of their convictions to follow through."
Goodnough agrees with Orrange that an honor code may not be the most effective way to stop academic dishonesty; he believes that students who are planning to cheat will cheat anyway.
Orrange offered a final word of advice to students who help others cheat.
"I have degrees from this place, I am proud of this university and I am proud of my grades," Orrange said. "Anytime someone cheats their way through this university and then goes out into the business world at large as a representative of UB and they haven't learned what they should have learned because they cheated their way through, that reflects poorly on you and me."