Twelve University of Maryland undergraduates have been accused of using Web-equipped cell phones or handheld organizers to cheat on a business school final exam last month, according to the school's student-run Honor Council.
Six of them have admitted to misconduct during that same test, the council said.
The allegations prompted Provost William W. Destler to issue a warning to faculty members about the potential misuse of cell phones and other common handheld electronics, said J. Andrew Cantor, a 20-year-old senior and chairman of the Honor Council.
The 30-student Honor Council duties are to encourage and enforce academic integrity on campus.
Although the council holds hearings for students accused of such misconduct as cheating and plagiarism, this is the first time it has dealt with allegations that involve the increasingly common wireless computers, Cantor said yesterday.
While some faculty and administration members said they were surprised by the technological cheating, Cantor said he and others on the Honor Council were not. "We haven't seen it before, but it's not a great intellectual leap," he said.
The students in the business exam are accused of using their cell phones and handheld computers to go to a Web site where a professor had posted answers to the exam, Cantor said. The answers were apparently intended for students to check their work after the final.
Cantor did not want to name the class in which the cheating is alleged to have occurred and said he did not know how the professor discovered suspicious activity.
The six students who have pleaded "responsible" for their misconduct have received the standard Honor Council sanction -- an "XF" on their transcripts. That mark shows that the students failed the course because of academic dishonesty, and prevents them from representing the university in any function or extracurricular activity.
If the students take an academic integrity seminar, they can have the "X" removed from their transcripts.