Cheating rampant in Standford CS?

Cheating rampant in Standford CS?

http://bayarea.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/11/heading-off-the-temptation-to-cheat-in-computer-science-classes-at-stanford/

“Historically, the Standford computer science department accounts for between 20 to 60 percent of all honor-code violations, even though the courses represent about 7 percent of student enrollment.”

I wonder if it’s because it’s easier to ‘cheat’ (ie copy source code) in CS, the pressure to perform is higher, CS students are inherently full of cheaters, or if in fact most majors actually have this much academic dishonesty – and it’s the uniqueness of CS assignments makes it easier to catch.  I also wonder if this is a sign/fallout from our declining educations in math and sciences…

CS homework involves lots of your own creative problem solving.  In CS, you can get a proper solution in many different ways – so the odds of reaching the right answer by the same method as someone else is very unlikely.  Compare that with other majors.  Mathematics, chemistry, physics, and like majors don’t usually have multiple ways to the right answer – they pretty much require you reach the answer in a certain way – so having the same steps to a solution as someone else is actually likely and expected.  Then go to the other extreme of most liberal arts majors.  Besides having multiple ways to get a working solution, these majors often don’t even have a particular ‘solution’ to their assignments – with the point of the assignment being simply to show critical thinking and defend your answer.

CS majors are a ripe target – these guys have a huge database of previously submitted work from other students and from open web resources that can easily and automatically checked against.  No wonder they get caught so easily.  Still, it would be interesting to run one of these pattern matching programs against other major’s assignments and compare to previously submitted papers and online resources such as wikipedia and the like for copying.  Could be an interesting experiment…


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