Med School Accuses Students Of Cheating After Monitoring Online Activity

By Bill Galluccio

May 11, 2021

Officials at Dartmouth College have accused 17 medical students of cheating during online exams. The Geisel School of Medicine claimed that the students were logged into Canvas, the school's online course platform, giving them access to the answers.

After an investigation, seven of the cases were dismissed, while the other ten students were expelled, suspended, or giving a failing grade for the course. Some also received unprofessional conduct marks on their records.

The school launched an investigation in January after a teacher witnessed students accessing course materials on Canvas while taking a virtual exam. That prompted the school to review all the online activity logged by Canvas during the entire school year, which uncovered other suspected cheaters.

Many of the students accused of cheating have maintained their innocence and claim that the school's investigation was flawed. They claim they did not access Canvas during the exams, and the data the school used to make the allegations was not enough evidence to prove they cheated. They suggested that if they were logged in on another device, it would ping the Canvas servers, even if they were not actively using the program.

That argument seemed to sway school officials in at least one case, which was dismissed. In a public email, a group of students said school administrators determined that in at least one case, "automated Canvas processes are likely to have created the data that was seen rather than deliberate activity by the user."

The school defended its investigation, claiming the time-stamped evidence shows students accessed specific pages on Canvas during their scheduled exams.

"We take academic integrity very seriously," Duane A. Compton, the dean of the Geisel School, told the New York Times. "We wouldn't want people to be able to be eligible for a medical license without really having the appropriate training."

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