April 19, 2006

The Honor Code


The Honor Code is taken very seriously in American Universities. In traditional "honor code schools", there are honor pledges, student-organized honor systems, unproctored exams, and the requirement to turn in suspected cheating incidents. Some schools do not have a traditional honor code, but they usually have a set of rules or some writing that articulates the fundamental rights and responsibilities of all students. However, this code may not be universal because I am aware that there are Universities across the world that do not hold their students accountable for honoring this code.

Professors in traditional "honor code schools' such as Princeton hand out a Final Exam and leave the room. Students are then expected to take the assigned time and then hand in their papers to the Prof in his office. There have been times when Profs allow you to select a date and time when you want to take the exam. On the date and time you select, the Prof gives you the exam and you can choose to do your exam at a location of choice. Absurd as all of this may sound (to some), the Honor Code works!

There have been some stray cases where students have tried to either test the code or else disregarded it for whatever reason, and the consequences have been predictably disastrous. Once a student pleads guilty, he usually receives a suspension from the university and community service hours. The harshness of the punishment would depend on the severity of the violation, the previous credibility of the accused student, and whether the act was premeditated. A blatant violation of this code could make for an immediate expulsion, and would show up as a permanent record on your academic credentials.

In a world that is often accused of being morally defunct, the Honor Code and its observance reasserts my faith in the integrity of human kind.

15 comments:

ChrisWoznitza said...

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Voice Within said...

Actually an honor system works much better than policing. I remember in school, I was in class 6 then, the new principal enforced this honor system and nobody cheated in exams anymore.
I went later to another school in my pre college days where there were really no rules and no one told you to do anything, but you were supposed to be disciplined on your own. That system too worked extremely smoothly.
I think when you show that you trust people, they respond positively.

EXSENO said...

Interesting, I learn something new from you so often. That is what I enjoy about your blog.

Pacze Moj said...

Thought-provoking post!

In traditional "honor code schools", there are honor pledges, student-organized honor systems, unproctored exams, and the requirement to turn in suspected cheating incidents.

Isn't requiring every student to turn in a suspected cheater akin to filling the halls with nothing but police -- an insidious way to turn a mob of students against an individual?

In my mind, if someone cheats and gets away with it, all the power to them. It even makes me happy. If someone steals something from a store, it makes me happy, too. In fact, as long as no one is stealing from me, I'm happy.

;)

I don't think I'd enjoy the "Honor Code".

Invincible said...

Makes me feel unlucky :)
I think it's a good attempt to raise morality n make students understand their responsibilty.

What if it causes a stampede inside the classroom when the prof leaves. I believe it also depends on what kind of exam you're giving , how well the papers are set, what kinda coaching was imparted to them, the facilities in the uni, all these wud have an impact on how students behave during exams.
Phew!

Nasir said...

honour code...
nice.
But i really have not heard such thing in schools n collegs in this part of world.

samrina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
samrina said...

Nice concept of "HONOR CODE". I wish that it also been introduced n practice in our part of world.

It think it helps to raise the confidence and sense of responsibility in students as they are been empowered to take decisions by their own. This wud also teach them to differentiate between gud n bad and wud teach them Ethics too.

I remember we practiced such thing in our Business Ethics class n it really worked out.

Takecare.

karmic_jay said...

There is hope after all. :) Enjoy the weekend!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

This is such a great post.
I think teaching integrity honor and responsibility are so very important. In fact, I recently applied for the HON code, which is a code for blogs that honor integrity, proper referencing etc. I hope I can get it. Integrity is a characteristic I value in myself and others.

~Deb

Saurabh said...

I think this would work very well in places where there is not much cut throat competition, nor a lot of people giving the test.

When lots of people give the test, I feel, the probability of some people cheating and then everybody following is pretty good.

I remember having our weekly tests in high school based on the honour code system, and it did work - but then, there was no competition there and we were but innocent kids.

In a vast country like India, where you have to compete with million others, I think, people will be more prone to throw morality and ethics to the winds.

- Saurabh

Suji said...

Great post. Yes I think honour code is a great way to show students that you trust them and I think it is a better way to teach them integrity, morality and make them more responsible.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Trailady said...

Interesting! I think it's a neat system and it may work for some. There aren't very many people who think about honor anymore. People kind of do whatever they want. I could never cheat simply because I'm too independant. Can't stand the thought of NOT doing my own work. I could never feel good about an 'A' if I knew I didn't earn it. I cheated in 5th grade and I felt so badly about it I decided I'd never do it again!

_Jonathan_ said...

I think honor system works.
But we have to be careful with punishments. Society (university, school, friends) sometimes is cruel, and over-react.
Remember: punishment shouldn't never be higher than the fault.
bye bye friend

bablu said...

With people devising new ways to cheat in exams - this comes as a pleasent surprise to me.