Air Force Academy Announces Cheating Incident
The US Air Force Academy has issued a release indicating as many as 78 cadets may have been involved in a cheating scandal.
Up to 78 Air Force Academy cadets cheated on an online calculus test by getting help during the exam from a website, the academy said Wednesday.
Most of the cadets took responsibility for their actions and have begun a six-month remediation program, a type of academic probation, said Lt. Col. John Bryan, an academy spokesman.
The circumstances seem somewhat unique compared to prior incidents. Unlike previous cheating scandals in which a group colluded, this appears to be a case of 78 cadets all independently choosing to use a website during a test. It is also interesting to see that “most” have already been placed on probation — meaning “most” are not being expelled, as might have been expected in the past.
The mostly-freshmen academic class of 650 cadets had been allowed to use the website, but not for the test. In addition, it was an “independent work” test:
Cadets were allowed to use the website involved for homework but were told ahead of time that it was off-limits during the test, Bryan said.
Cadets took the test on their own, outside the classroom and without supervision. The test will no longer be given online, he said.
Apparently some cadets failed the exam after having done particularly well on other tests, so the department started looking into why. In case you’re curious, the military can determine just about anything they want about your computer history if you do it on a government system.
It was a perfect storm of cheating temptation: The cadets were alone, on their computers, with access to the entire internet — while taking an online test.
While this may seem somewhat specific to academics, such “temptations” may occur even after they graduate and are commissioned as officers. In addition, the temptation to take the “easy way” out is prevalent in far more places than a college test.
The harder right is always superior to the easier wrong. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, being “right” is very often hard.
A culture of “perfection” in competitive environments in the military is neither new nor limited to USAFA. Air Force pilot training and Marine basic officer training have had similar scandals in the past. Choosing to do the right thing can be challenging in these environments if, indeed, it seems like “everyone is doing it.”