Friday, June 13, 2008

Website Encourages Donation of Old Exams

On June 10, Inside Higher Ed reported that representatives of, encouraged University of California at San Diego (UCSD) students to donate "used" exams in return for a Starbucks $5 gift card. The website creator aims to make tests available to "level the playing field" according to the article, so everyone and not the privileged few, has access to the information. Professors can add their name to a "ban list" if they prefer not to give universal rights to student donations of their tests. The issues of unauthorized access to testing material and not securing professors' permission to their intellectual property (i.e., test questions) angers faculty members at UCSD. But professors beyond UCSD may feel the same way if the web site creator follows through with his intention to add other schools to his site.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Does a student have the right to give a test to a website so others can use it?
  2. Is it fair to students and professors to post tests online so they can be viewed by anyone?
  3. Should professors rewrite tests every semester so studying old tests online doesn't give an unfair advantage to students who know about the website?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Governor's Daughter Gifted with West Virginia University Degree

In an ongoing story, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, received a West Virginia University (WVU) Executive M.B.A. degree even though she did not "register for, pay for, or complete" 22 hours of coursework noted on her transcript. The June 5, 2008 article continues to note that WVU President Mike Garrison formerly worked for Ms. Bresch at a drug company that is also a major donor to the university.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Would you accept an academic degree that you didn't earn? Would you decide to accept it if it meant you would earn more?
  2. Should the WVU president resign if his staff approved the transcript change, even if he was not personally involved?

In the Case of Scott McClellan and Workplace Ethics . . .

U.S. News features a story from June 3, 2008 that discusses George W. Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan's new book and whether loyalty to a supervisor is more important than demonstrating ethical behavior on the job. An interview with law professor Stephen Goldman, author of Temptations in the Office: Ethical Choices and Legal Obligations, is featured. Goldman mentions that if someone knows about unethical actions at work, they can say nothing, speak up, or quit that job. However, he notes that many people don't have the luxury of jeopardizing their current employment, so they keep quiet.

Interestingly, Goldman points out that the Bush administration didn't dispute McClellan's comments, but accused him of being "disloyal" to the president. The best way to inspire workers to be ethical is to make sure the top brass act with integrity and say that they expect their employees to do the same, he continues. Furthermore, he adds that everyone in the company should take responsibility for their actions and not blame others for lapses in judgment.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Is loyalty to your supervisor more important than speaking up for fairness and honesty?
  2. Would you work for a business that doesn't value honesty and fairness as long as they paid you an outstanding wage?
  3. Did you ever report wrongdoing on the job either anonymously or directly to a supervisor? What was the result?