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'Regret Clause' Most Effective Anti-Cheating Method for Harvard's Intro CS Course


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CS50 lecture in Harvard's Sanders Theatre

Harvard's CS50, taught by Professor David J. Malan, meets in the Sanders Theatre.

Credit: Ryosuke Takashima

A report on cheating in Harvard's "CS50: Introduction to Computer Science" course found that a "regret clause" introduced in 2014 to reduce referrals to the university's honor council was the "most impactful" of the course's anti-cheating interventions.

A CS50 student who cheats on a problem set can invoke the "regret clause" within 72 hours. Though the course may levy sanctions — such as a failing grade for the work in question — course staff does not to refer the student to the Honor Council, which may administer harsher penalties, including compulsory withdrawal from the college.

"We instead advise students on how best to move forward and connect them as needed with support structures on campus for academics and mental health," according to the report, "Teaching Academic Honesty in CS50," co-authored by course instructor David J. Malan and senior preceptors Brian Yu and Doug Lloyd. CS50 is Harvard's most popular course of any kind.

Eighty-nine students have availed themselves of the regret clause since 2014, the report says.

The clause has not reduced the number of cases referred to the Honor Council, but actually "contributed to an uptick," the report says.

From The Harvard Crimson
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