Dartmouth Medical School drops online fraud cases against students

Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine says it’s falling an online fraud investigation This prompted the school to falsely accuse some students, allegations that sparked outrage among faculty, alumni and technology experts.

In March, Dartmouth charged 17 students with fraud based on a review of some online activity data on Canvas – a popular learning management system where professors post assignments and students submit their work – during remote exams. After at least two students argued that administrators had mistaken automated canvas activity for human fraud, the school quickly dropped seven cases.

Now Dartmouth is also dropping charges against the remaining 10 students, some of whom faced expulsion, suspensions, course failures and misconduct marks on their academic records that could have derailed their medical careers.

Medical school dean Duane A. “I have decided to dismiss all honor code allegations, saying that the students’ academic records will not be affected,” Compton said in an email to the Geisel community on Wednesday evening. “I apologize for everything I’ve done to the students.”

Dartmouth’s decision to dismiss the allegations came after a software review by The New York Times found that students’ devices could automatically generate canvas activity data even when no one was using them. Dartmouth’s practices were condemned by some former students as well as some teachers from other medical schools.

A Dartmouth spokesman said the school could not comment further on dropping the allegations for privacy reasons. The school’s agreements with the students who were accused are not yet final, and the students did not immediately return a request for comment.

Fraud investigations turn the rustic Ivy League campus into a national battleground when the school’s oversight is increased during the pandemic.

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While many universities, including Dartmouth, require students to use special software that switches off their devices during remote exams, Geisel uses a second system, Canvas, to allow students to perform remote exams without their knowledge. Went on to track the activity retrospectively. This was unusual because the canvas was not designed as a forensic tool.

Technology experts said Dartmouth’s use of canvas raised questions. Although some students may have cheated, these experts said, it would be difficult for school administrators to differentiate cheating from non-cheating based on the canvas data snapshots used by Dartmouth.

The case was also notable for Dartmouth’s procedures after the students were charged.

Some of the accused students said that Dartmouth had impeded their ability to defend themselves. He had less than 48 hours to respond to the charges, was not provided with a full data log for the exam, and was counseled to plead guilty, though he denied fraud or appeared in an online hearing. He was given just two minutes to register his case. Six students and review of documents.

In an interview in April, Dr. Compton said the school’s methods for identifying potential fraud were reasonable and valid. He said that the administrators provided the accused students with all the data on which there were allegations of fraud. He denied that the Office of Student Affairs had advised those who said he had not cheated to admit their guilt.

In his email on Wednesday, he took a different tone.

“As we look to the future, we must ensure fairness in our honor code review process, especially in an academic environment that includes more distance learning,” said Dr. Compton wrote. “We will learn from it and we will do better.”

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