Dartmouth College medical school accuses students of remote exam cheating

Occurred: May 2021

Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine faced controversy after it accused students of cheating while taking remote exams. 

The school charged 17 students with cheating based on data from the Canvas learning management system. The students were accused of accessing online course material during remote exams.

However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) raised concerns about the evidence provided, and due process violations

They suggested that the data Dartmouth used as evidence could have been produced by an automatic syncing process inherent in Canvas’ functionality - a process that could show a student’s account accessing relevant course material, even if it was happening without the student knowing about it, on a device that was not in use during the exam.

After further investigation, Dartmouth dropped all charges against the students, acknowledging that the technical data that formed the basis of the charges was insufficient. The Dean of the Geisel School, Duane Compton, apologised to the students and the entire student body.

Critics of Canvas say the the learning management system is unreliable and an inappropriate way to track students.

Operator: Dartmouth College
Developer: Canvas
Country: USA
Sector: Education
Purpose: Detect and prevent cheating
Technology: Learning management system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Ethics/values
Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2021