Monday, October 6, 2014

Harvard Softens Penalty on Cheaters If They Confess

If you feel remorse after committing an unethical act in a Harvard computer science course and report it within 72 hours, your professor may give you a lighter penalty ("CS50 Introduces New Integrity Policy, Bypassing Ad Board," The Harvard Crimson, September 26, 2014). This new punishment plan in David J. Malan's class has been dubbed the "regret clause." It is listed in his syllabus under the Academic Integrity heading at This option, based on a student's remorse, is outside the usual academic integrity offense case procedure that requires consultation with the university's Administrative Board and the department chair before allowing your professor to give you an "unsatisfactory or failing grade" on the assignment.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think it's a good idea to give students the option to confess that they committed an academically dishonest act in return for a lesser punishment? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think that students should be given the option to correct a plagiarized paper in return for a lower grade instead of getting a failing grade? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think students who use this "regret clause" will learn from their mistake and not commit academically dishonest acts again? Why or why not?

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