Sunday, January 16, 2011

Law prof recycles old exam questions on mistaken belief they were no longer accessible to students searching the web

Above the Law is reporting on a Penn Law prof who found himself in an embarrassing situation when his students discovered that some multiple choice questions on the final exam had been recycled from a course he taught at another school.    Bravo to a group of students who were forthright enough to alert a dean about the recycled questions.  Here's the law prof's email to students after the snafu was discovered:

Last Monday’s Corporations examination utilized a set of multiple choice questions that I had used previously at Georgetown. I reused the questions in reliance on an understanding I had with the authorities there pursuant to which multiple choice questions from my exams would no longer be posted absent my express permission. It now turns out that, unbeknownst to me, the questions were posted on the Georgetown Law website.


It has come to my attention that the some but not all students who took the exam had access to copies of the questions. Indeed, a group of five students notified Dean Clinton that they had copies of the questions within minutes of the conclusion of the exam. It is clear that other students also saw the questions.

And here's how the prof in question is handling it:

We are left with a problem concerning the results of the exam. I have discussed the matter with Deans Fitts and Clinton.

We have agreed on the following protocol:

A) The results of Monday’s test will be graded based only on the essay question. Each of you will receive an email in the middle the next week that reports this grade to you.

B) Once you receive this report of your grade, you will have three choices as to how to proceed: 1) Accept that grade as your grade in the course; 2) Take the grade of Pass for the course; or 3) Take a retest to be administered on Friday afternoon, January 14, 2011.

C) If you choose to take the retest, your grade for the course will be the higher of your grade on the retest and your grade on the original test. The retest will follow exactly the same format as the original test—one-third multiple choice; two-thirds essay; time of three and one-half hours.

The registrar’s office will be processing your choices.

The protocol does not get us back to Square One, because that just cannot be done. But I hope you find it a reasonable and fair way to proceed under the circumstances.

You can read the rest here.


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