This Week in Cheating: Honor Codes Making a Comeback

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A cheating deterrent going back as far anyone can seem to remember is to pledge an oath, a vow, to swear on something, or just simply read an honor code. It’s even Numbers 30:2 “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”  Nowadays it seems like honor codes are making a big comeback. Loads of scholarship from the 1960’s to today have reinforced the merits of having students read honor codes to deter cheating before or after an exam.

This country’s first, and arguably greatest, university system is that little school across the river from the city of Boston, Harvard. Harvard is not immune to cheating scandals. Just today the Harvard Crimson published a story on the upcoming implementation of mandatory honor codes for final exams and papers.

At ProctorFree, we support this move. WTG, Harvard. While the university is getting some criticism for this change, much is unfounded. The most common talking point bantered in the comments cite that “integrity is implicit at such elite institutions such as Harvard.” Whereas that argument would ridiculed if placed in the context of elite professional athletics. Is it still cool to reference Deflategate? Higher stakes breeds higher competition repeatedly.

Cheating deterrence is a tactic we have utilized in several ways to stop students from cheating before they ever begin. One method includes reading an honor code before taking an exam. Less students cheating means less exam review needed. This increases productivity of faculty and simultaneously increases the efficiency of proctoring and the integrity of exams. 

While we won’t go as far to say that Harvard’s implementation of honor codes follows our lead, we are going to welcome them to the community of those who care deeply for academic integrity.

Thanks for reading This Week in Cheating, see you next time.


ProctorFree has blogged about honor codes before, check it out here.



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