Cheating scandal at UCF hits YouTube; fallout still unclear

By Emre Kelly

An alleged cheating incident that took place at U. Central Florida earlier this month has brought many accused students forward, sparking further controversy in an already multifaceted scandal.

On Nov. 11, a YouTube video uploaded by an anonymous student in the class added more elements of confusion.

Some students feel as if Richard Quinn, who teaches the Strategic Management capstone course this semester, did not follow his original plan for the class, which included his creating questions for both the midterm and final exams, according to his first lecture of the semester.

Some felt that if Quinn were creating his own questions, then the information in the test bank would not be the actual exam.

“I was unaware of what I had stumbled into when I received the test bank, as were most students,” said one student, who asked to remain anonymous. “This wasn’t a case of a really bad class, just a very unfortunate and ignorant group forwarding the e-mail around. The scary thought is that it easily could have been more students.”

When a test bank — which includes questions and answers to an exam — was leaked to the class through an unknown source, it was quickly spread via e-mail, according to Taylor Ellis, the associate dean of the UCF testing center.

Test banks include the questions and answers for exams that are premade by publishers. In this case, Pearson was the publisher involved with the senior-level course.

Quinn and the College of Business believe that students maliciously used the test bank to cheat on the midterm examination.

Students who have come forward say that Quinn, in his first lecture, said he would be personally creating the exams, which assuaged any concerns they had about the test bank.

When contacted, Quinn did not comment on the concerns raised by students.

The College of Business has taken steps to absolve students of the cheating allegations.

If a student could prove they received the test bank after they took the exam, they could forward that e-mail, with the time stamp of the e-mail, to the College of Business, clearing the student’s name.

Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, was in the class but did not use the test bank.

“I work two jobs. I am a very busy person, and the thought of having to retake a test was just crazy,” the student said. “As people in my other classes started talking, it became clear: [Quinn] really doesn’t know who actually cheated.”

“I have a 40-something year-old lady in my class and she said, ‘I did see the test bank that was labeled as a study guide and thought it was just that, a study guide,’ ” the student said.

Grant Heston, the assistant vice president of UCF News & Information, said the college was not budging on its view of students receiving and using the test key.

“Just as it would be inappropriate to use test questions found on a professor’s desk, it is inappropriate to use test questions found or purchased online,” Heston said.

Heston also emphasized the statistics behind the testing lab, saying UCF has seen a decrease in the number of violators since monitoring began.

During the spring 2010 semester, he said, only 14 suspected cheating incidents took place out of a total of 64,000 exams that were taken.

“UCF’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs has created a group to review what the university can learn from the incident,” Heston said. “This is not an investigation of anyone involved in the incident.”

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