Under the “open note” rule, he wondered, wouldn’t that sort of sharing, with some word changes to avoid flat-out plagiarism, have been acceptable? The course syllabus does not disallow it or indeed say anything about collaboration, though Harvard encourages professors to state their policies explicitly on syllabi.
Some Harvard professors said on Friday that students should have expected a final exam to carry higher standards than other assignments. “You don’t have to get to Harvard to understand that,” Gardner said.
Yet the accused students said the final was no different than the other three scored assignments in the course. All were take-home exams accounting for 25 percent each of students’ ultimate letter grades. All carried the same instructions, complete with “et ceteras” — and collaboration was common on all of them, according to the students who spoke to the Globe.
Harvard does not appear to be investigating the earlier three exams.
Some students said Intro to Congress needed to be revamped. Many skipped class frequently last semester, said one student, sending others to pick up copies of the lecture slides, a move the professor did not seem to mind. “On the first day,” said the student, “he acknowledged that it was one of the easiest classes at Harvard.”
Undergraduates’ reviews of the course, available on the Internet, are largely scathing. Many complain the course appears to have gotten harder, if not more educationally valuable, in the last year.
“I felt that many of the exam questions were designed to trick you rather than test your understanding of the material,” reads one review.
Another is even more blunt: “Definitely not ‘the easiest class at Harvard’ anymore.”
Mary Carmichael can be reached at email@example.com.