Case: West Point cheating incident 1 Description: In the summer of 1976 West Point military academy was rocked by a scandal involving a large percentage of its junior class.
A number of junior classmen were found to have violated rules on a “take home” engineering exam that consisted of two parts. Part 1 of the exam was to be completed individually without assistance. Part 2 of the exam was to be completed as a group activity. Instructors upon grading the exams discovered a trend where contents of Part I had been duplicated or copied in a large number of examinations graded.
All cadet of the West Point military academy live under a idealistic honor code systems that provides evaluation, judgment, and penalty assessment regarding all honor code violations.
The honor code is administered by a committee of cadet peers. Most honor code violations result in automatic expulsion from West Point. Decisions by the honor committee can only be overridden by the West point superintendent, secretary of army, or the president of the United States. For the most part administrators and politician in power are loath to overrule decisions rendered by the committee. 2 Diagnosis:
The case highlights a intense educational process where the school attempts to impart in their cadets a value system of unlimited energy, motivation, self confidence, comadarie ship, trust, integrity, and honesty.
The conditions of west point seek to mimic war time environments. In times of war the leaders need to have high energy levels, be self confident and honest or soldiers will die. The school utilizes a number of “arbitrary” stress events, long hours, close supervision to create a environment where the weak fail. Soldiers are not allowed to show lack of integrity, cheating, self-doubt, pity, or hesitation without being expelled.
The average cadets point of view on life is to “survive” today.
The main recreation activity is sleep. The extreme environment and pressures leads to soldier seeking shortcuts to survive today’s events. Which likely lead to the cheating event. Organizational behavior theories allow us to comprehend the forces in play that school utilizes to build successful cadets. 3 Theory: Social cognitive theory explains psychological functioning in terms of environmental events, and internal personal factors.
Social cognitive theory explains a number of factors of the school The schools main goal is to instill cadets with high self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy represents a task and situation specific cognitions and is composed of four components: 1. Mastery of experiences or performance measurements. The school attempts to provide a military battle like living conditions, where success is achieved by leaders have the right cognitive abilities under specific tasks and situations. 2.
Vicarious experiences or modeling. West point provides a environment that strongly encourages modeling and vicarious events. Cadets study and act-out past failures and study how to prevent similar failures 3. Social persuasion: Social persuasion is exhibiting a “can do” attitude.
Its also having others accept and believe in your actions and progress in meeting your goals 4. Physiological and psychological arousal: West point utilizes a number of arbitrary stressful events, situations, and challenges to force psychological arousal.
West point utilizes exercise routines, fast paced running in between class rooms, sleep deprivation, and stress to force physiologically arousal. The challenging environment of West point leads normal humans to seek ways to evade and shortcut through the processes to “survive”. 4 Fallout: The goal of West point is to generate idealistic military leaders.
The school challenging, stressful, and unrealistic environment led to the cheating event. Since the goal of the school is to continue to generate idealistic leaders, little can change.
The guilty cadets should be rightfully expelled. The school needs to continue to educate the media on its goals and expectations. The best action for the school to undertake is to modify and monitor the testing requirements for the challenging courses so juniors will have a much more difficult time to cheat. The honor code and school expectations will continue nearly unchanged.