Harvard University accused 125 students Thursday of cheating on a take-home final exam, the New York Times reported. The students, representing nearly half of the total enrollment for an introductory government class, apparently copied work from each other, despite having been instructed to work on the test alone.
Jay Harris, the University's dean of undergraduate education, said the case is "unprecedented in its scope and magnitude."
Harris told the Boston Globe that some of the accused students' responses to short answer and essay questions were exactly the same, and others were “too close for comfort.”
According to the Boston Globe, a teaching fellow grading the exams noticed similarities and brought the matter to the professor, who then notified the college's Administrative Board. The professor, identified by the Harvard Crimson as Matthew B. Platt, noticed similarities in 10 to 20 exams. A review conducted over the summer by the board ultimately identified 125 "suspicious" exams.
“The enabling role of technology is a big part of this picture,” Harris told the New York Times. “It’s the ease of sharing. With that has come, I believe, a certain cavalier attitude.”
The accused students will appear individually before the board over the next two weeks, the Boston Globe reported. If found guilty, some may be suspended for up to a year.
In response to the incident, the University is planning to strengthen its anti-cheating efforts by increasing student education on the issue.