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Michelle Garrison garrison at u.washington.edu
Fri Nov 14 21:34:13 EST 1997

I've seen this problem in lab classes, too -- I would say that it is the
worst in physics classes, then chemistry, and finally bio.  I think this
ordering has a lot to do with the varying degrees of numerical and
observational data in those classes.

In my chem labs as an undergrad (especially in organic), they had
"foil mechanisms" to prevent things like that from happening.  For
example, you turned in your final product/sample at the end of lab
and the TA would randomly (?) pick one or two and analyze them and
check them against the data those students reported.  OR, they would
give each student a slightly different unknown, so that the students would
only come up with the correct answer through careful and independent work.

However, the best method I have seen for lowering cheating in labs is
lowering the expectations for "outcomes" and raising the expectations
for "process."  For example -- not expecting anatomy drawings to be as
good as the ones in the book;  taking a 30% yield as acceptable in chem
labs; etc.

Just my two cents.

Michelle Garrison
University of Washington
"Dr. Paula J. Schlax" wrote in message <346CAF50.41C6 at jhuvms.hcf.jhu.edu>...
>I'll try to start a new thread-
>I am very interested in thinking about scientific ethics in the
>Some typical unethical behaviors I am aware of are:
>Doing a quick and dirty titration to determine where an end point is
>(and calculate the concentration of an unknown) but not including
>it in the report.
>After observing a glass jar full of creepy crawlies for a semester
>making up, de novo, the observations for a semester.
>Fudging a calibration curve so that the intercept is zero.
>The obvious copying lab reports/ prelabs and other homework.....
>I think students generally have the feeling "its just a class" so they
>don't feel like they are cheating.  I think making lab grades more
>dependent upon true observations (rather than say 100% yield)
>is a way to eliminate some of the need for fudging/ cheating etc.
>Ideas, experiences, solutions, funny anecdotes?
>(PS- I wa pretty naive in general chemistry- a friend was retaking the
>ourse, and after we got lab reports back, he always asked me if he could
>look at mine to correct his (and vice versa- but I was really into the
>class....) It wasn't until a year later that I was talking to our TA and
>found out that he was turning his reports in months late. I still
>thought he was a nice guy, but I didn't take any more classes with him-
>after all- it was just a lab)

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