3 min read


You are writing a final exam and all your classmates are hard at work answering questions. You briefly raise your head while thinking through an answer, and see one of your classmates on their phone. Each exam grade will not be weighted against the class performance, so if your classmate receives a particularly high grade, it will not affect the grade you ultimately receive.

Sample CASPer Questions:

1. What is going through your mind?

Seeing my classmate looking at their phone, my immediate reaction is characterized by disagreement. However, I will remain non-judgmental and not assume that my classmate is cheating. They could, for instance, be on their phone because they have a loved one in the hospital, or because they’re expecting a very important phone call. If my classmate is cheating, I don’t have evidence for that, nor is it my responsibility to find out currently, during the exam. I have to focus on my exam, and giving too much thought to my classmate’s potentially academically dishonest behavior is only a distraction. 

2. What should you do in this situation?

During the exam, I will focus on my own performance and not worry about whether my classmate is cheating or not. When the exam is finished, I will wait for my classmate outside so I can ask them, in a private setting, how they thought the exam went. My goal will be to find out if they might be struggling with the class, and if that might explain why they were cheating, if they were indeed doing that. If they confide in me and explain that they were cheating, and that they are having a difficult time in the class, I will offer my help. I will not go to the professor with this information, though, because I don’t believe it is my responsibility to oust a fellow classmate for a poor decision. I will trust that the professor or scantron system will detect plagiarism or any form of cheating without my testimony, which I lack concrete evidence for, and issue a commensurate penalty if they decide to pursue one. 

3. Describe a time when you witnessed unethical behavior. What did you do?

In high school, I was friends with a girl who lied on her resume to get a job. She’d asked me to proofread her resume, and I noticed that she extended the amount of time she spent at her previous job. She also embellished her GPA. I knew her long and well enough to know that she was lying about these elements, so I confronted her on it. I told her in a very calm and honest tone that I don’t think she should be lying about these things; an employer can find out and she’ll get fired. Worse, it can hurt her professional reputation. She explained that she didn’t think it mattered, because she was only working for the money, not to advance in her career or get a good reference. I told her that even still, if she’s lying about the qualifications on her resume, she can get hired for the wrong job. This will cost the company money and time, which is unethical and unprofessional. She still didn’t agree with my position, but at that point, I finished proofreading her resume and told her that if she needed help with anything else she should ask someone else. I wasn’t comfortable helping her lie. She understood, and we stayed friends for a while until we both left to go to different universities. 

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