Recent allegations of widespread cheating in a course at Harvard have provoked much hand-wringing among Harvard professors and administrators. Their diagnoses and prescriptions predictably fall into two groups, depending on whether one is optimistic or pessimistic about the ethical capacity of today’s college students.
Optimists believe in the efficacy of moral education and responsibility. They would fix the problem by giving students clearer exam instructions or by providing incoming freshmen instruction on academic integrity. Pessimists recommend eliminating all open-book exams, implementing tighter exam security, and increasing punishments for cheating.