HotAIR - FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE -- His Heartening Cheat...

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FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE--
His Heartening Cheat...

Effusions from our readers

by Alice Kaswell, AIR staff

The following note arrived recently from investigator Dwight Fisher. Fisher was responding to the "I AM AN ACCOMPLISHED ACADEMIC
FELON" project announced in mini-AIR 2001-02. The project was described as follows:

The British Medical Journal has editorialized (vol. 322, no. 7281, February 3, 2001) that "Students need to be taught about what constitutes academic misconduct." [See <http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/322/7281/0/e> for details.]

In our experience, students learn a concept best when they see the highest, best real-life examples of that concept. If you are, or were an especially accomplished academic cheat, we invite you to send us (preferably in 25 words or less) an account of your own
greatest triumph. Please send your true tale to "I AM AN ACCOMPLISHED ACADEMIC FELON" c/o <marca@chem2.harvard.edu>.

Here is investigator Fisher's confession:

I appreciate this opportunity to "come clean" on my academic felony of 30 years ago.

In my High School English Class, I sat behind a student with less than stellar academic skills who also lacked any scruples regarding academic felonies. He was so poor at performing in both academics and academic felonies that he was placed in the front row of the class so that (given his limited abilities) he could not cheat. He was going down in flames as the semester progressed and I felt sorry for him. On the day of yet another exam for which he was unprepared, and in a moment of weakness, I agreed to tap once on his left shoulder for "A", once on the right for "B", twice on the left for "C", and twice on the right for "D". Since it was a multiple-choice test with up to 4 answers the plan was a brilliant success and he got a perfect score.

I was so nervous about transmitting answers that I got confused and missed a question while committing this felony. When the tests were graded, the teacher's face showed that she was puzzled, amazed, and happy. In spite of her optimism I think she was too much of a realist to suppose that her teaching skills had made any permanent change in her poorest student. However, for those few minutes, until the bell rang, he was her shining academic star.

In the days following the exam the other student and I grew apart as I refused to repeat the process on other exams. The teacher never conducted a thorough investigation and we were never captured and punished for our felony. Suspicions waned as his performance quickly returned to his basement-dwelling average. I eventually left the state to earn my doctorate. I'm not sure what happened to the other student but I suspect that, wherever he may be, he is still positioned so that some authority figure can keep an eye on him ... or perhaps he is working in politics..

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