Professor Richard Quinn

Lecture to Students on Revelation of Cheating

delivered 8 November 2010, The University of Central Florida, Orlando


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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio.]

Okay. We're going to get started and I know we've planned on going through and talking about the chapter 9 material today, talking about mergers and acquisitions, alliances, and those kinds of things. That's been preempted.

And unfortunately and I think some of you know, I've been here for 11 years. I spent 10 years before I came here at the Rochester Institute of Technology, so I've been doing this for the last 21 plus years. I've probably delivered course content to tens of thousands of students over those 21 years and there was always one lecture that I hoped I never would have to give. And unfortunately that hope ran out, cause I'm going to give a lecture today that basically is the toughest one I've ever had to give and for some of you it's the toughest one you've ever had to hear.

When the midterm exam ended on Friday, a week ago, I looked at this data from the midterm exam. And at first I was just looking at the running statistics for the exam. And the exam was running about a grade and a half higher than it ever had run before. I thought that was rather interesting. It kind of set up a little bit of a red flag, cause with 600 and some odd students, and basically a course that I had taught fundamentally the same way for the last 4 or 5 years, you don't see that kind of a grade improvement by chance.

Once the exam ended, I ran more complete statistics on the exam and what I can up with or what -- what came out of that was something that looks like this. (Shows slides.) Right? And I'm comparing the Summer 2010 Capstone course which I taught to the Fall 2010 Capstone course.

In summer of 2010, this is the grade distribution. It's on virtually a standard normal distribution around the mean. You'll notice that there's a single peak in the distribution and that the tails of the distribution are relatively equal, with the exception of the one student down at the bottom, who basically scored a 60 out of 200. It's a relatively normal distribution. That's what it ought to look like. There were about 400 students in the course in the summer.

This is the grade distribution from this semester and I think you can notice immediately notice the difference. This is what's called a bimodal distribution. Bimodal distributions exist when an external force has been applied to a data set that creates a systematic bias to the data set.

Now, on Sunday when I ran this, I didn't know what the systematic bias was but I knew that it was there. On Monday, I found out what it was because a student either through a guilty conscience or as a heads up, anonymously dropped this in the bin on my office door.

This is, as some of you out there know, because some of you out there are also in possession of this, is the complete test bank for the midterm exam.

During the course of Monday, the lab instructors basically took a look at the data, started receiving emails from students who were concerned and upset that classmates had been bragging to them, that they had advanced copies of the exam, and that they aced the exam because they had all the answers ahead of time.

Guess what? The midterm exam grades are being tossed. Whatever you scored on the midterm exam no longer exists. Everybody in the Capstone course is going to be required to retake a new midterm exam.

And before I get into the specifics of that, I want to thank all of the lab instructors and all of the team for working virtually nonstop over the course of the last 96 hours to write a completely new exam, with about 200 questions to choose from. None of which, and I repeat, none of which come from a test bank.

So whoever has the test bank for the midterm, it's worthless and I'm presuming you also have a test bank for the final exam. It's also worthless because as soon as this exam is completed the entire team is going to write a completely new final exam with zero questions coming from any test bank.

Over the course of the past 4 or 5 days, your lab instructors, academic services, and the Office of the Dean have begun and are continuing a forensic analysis of not only all of the data but all of the available traffic over all of the available environments, that possibly could provide us with better information about where this started and how widespread it is.

Let me tell you where we are right now. Right now we've narrowed the pool of participants to about a third of the class. So when you get into your labs this week, just to give you some idea of the perspective of that, when you get into your labs this week look at the person on your left side, look at a person on your right side, statistically one of them cheated on the exam.

Now we have two options. One was to basically just simply scrub all of the other activities through the rest of the semester, cancel the Capstone competition, but that would have been unfair to the two-thirds of the class that was honest and ethical and tried and did it right.

But, I want to send a clear message to the ones who started this and the ones who propagated it and the ones who encouraged it over the course of the weeks leading up to the midterm exam.

As I said to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies while I met with him late last week, I can give him a list today and I can guarantee him with about a 95 percent certainty that everybody who cheated on the exam was on the list.

What I couldn't do was give him a list and guarantee that everybody whose name was on the list cheated on the exam. That was going to require some further forensic analysis of the data.

We expect to have that forensic analysis of the data completed by the end of this week. At the end of this week, we will turn our findings over to Academic Affairs and at that point in time the options and the results and the conclusions are out of our hands. They will do what they need to do to protect the integrity of the University and to protect the integrity of the College.

I don't want to be the one to have to explain to your parents why you aren't going to graduate. So I went back to the Dean and I negotiated a deal with the Dean. Unfortunately the deal has a time limit and the time limit runs out at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, because that's when we're going to turn the data over to Academic Affairs and at that point in time, they're going to take over and do their own investigation and they're not happy.

So, here's the deal. If you participated in this, you have a -- you have a choice. You can sit back in silence and hope your name doesn't get caught in the net, which is very quickly closing around the participants; or you can individually, quietly, one-by-one, anonymously if you wish to the rest of your classmates, identify yourself to your lab instructor.

If you do that, you get to complete the rest of the course. The grade you get in the course is the grade you earn in the course. And providing you complete a four hour ethics course being offered by the folks over in Academic Affairs, any permanent record of this will be wiped from your transcripts. There'll be no further action taken.

So, the choice is yours. If you want to take a high risk gamble, take it. I challenge you to take it, because we know who you are. We know where you are. And when Academic Affairs is done, you'll know the outcome. And oh by the way, for those of you who think that this is something that we caught by accident, College has informed every faculty member in the College of Business and every faculty member at the University of Central Florida, that if they're using a publisher's test bank, that the test banks have been compromised. So if you've got a test bank from somebody else's text book you think you're going to use. Don't even dream of it.

I've also been in contact with every single one of the major publishers who publishes these text books that are used by the College of Business. They're not only aware of it but two of those publishers have turned the matter over to their legal staffs to pursue whatever legal action comes out of the investigation.

The information's also been shared with the Academy of Management and every organization that deals across college campuses, and I met in Atlanta, Georgia with faculty from 20 universities and shared it with them.

The days of being able to find a new way to cheat the system are over. They're over. Not just for this course, but for this University. This kind of behavior will not, cannot be tolerated.

You know who you are. To say I'm disappointed is beyond comprehension, physically ill, absolutely disgusted, completely disillusioned, trying to figure out what was the last 20 years for.

For those of you out there who acted ethically and acted honorably and did it right, you have my undying gratitude and my utmost respect. For those of you who took the shortcut, don't call me. Don't ask me to do anything for you ever again.

The midterm exam makeup will open at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, November the 8th. It will close at midnight on November the 10th. It will be open for 51 hours. That's it. Those are the hours you get to take the makeup exam.

I don't care what's on your schedule. I don't care what you have planned. If you have to give birth, you're going to give birth in the exam room, because it's going to have to take a signed, hand-delivered note from God for you to get out of taking this midterm exam.

So, adjust your schedules. Blow off whatever it is you have to blow off to be there. But this is a one-shot, one-time 7 a.m. on Monday to midnight on Wednesday. If you miss it -- too bad.

It is mandatory for everybody.

Student: Even those that did not participate....

Quinn: Yep, and you can thank your teammates and your classmates and those that did participate for providing you with the opportunity to do this.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Research Note: Transcription by Diane Wiegand

Also in this database: UC Berkeley Professor Jasper Rine -- Laptop Theft Address to Students

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

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