Dartmouth accuses 17 medical students of online cheating

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Hanover, N.H.-based Dartmouth has investigated several students at its Geisel School of Medicine for allegedly cheating while taking exams online, according to a May 7 report in the Valley News.

Dartmouth alleges the students used their online coursework management system, Canvas, while taking closed-book exams remotely. Geisel Dean Duane Compton, PhD, told the Valley News that some students may need to retake exams or face more serious sanctions.

"We take academic integrity very seriously," Dr. Compton told The New York Times in a report published May 9. "We wouldn't want people to be able to be eligible for a medical license without really having the appropriate training."

According to the Times, which also spoke with some of the 17 students who were accused of cheating, the allegations have led to protests on campus, arguments of unfair treatment from the student government and letters of concern to administrators from more than two dozen faculty members.

Independent technology experts and a review of documents obtained by the Times shows Dartmouth's reliance on online activity data to find cheating may have led to erroneous accusations, according to the report. Some schools, like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have said they will no longer use online exam-monitoring technology.

In an email students made public cited by the Times, Dartmouth administrators said in one case, "automated Canvas processes are likely to have created the data that was seen rather than deliberate activity by the user."

Cases for seven of the students have been dismissed. Ten other students have been expelled, suspended or received marks on their records, according to the Times. Nine students pleaded guilty, according to the report, and some have filed appeals.

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