A professor at a top USA university recently assigned a take-home exam for a masters-level computer science course. One of the questions was extremely difficult, but the answer was available online. However, the exam clearly stated, "Do not look online".
Most of the students know enough to discern whether the online answer is correct. It will be practically impossible for the professor to detect any cheating, assuming there is basically only one way to answer the question.
While writing the exam, most students will assume that the answer is available online, as many answers are, and that some students will inevitably cheat. They will know that the cheaters will have an unfair advantage, and thus may obtain the highest grades. So there is pressure on all of the students to cheat, to eliminate the unfair advantage.
However, there is an extremely remote chance of getting caught, and being penalized for academic misconduct. Moreover, the honest students naturally want to be honest, because they have integrity.
I have four questions:
Is it ethical for a professor to give such a take-home exam, which tends to reward and encourage cheating?
If the professor becomes aware that one answer was available online, should he discard all answers to the extremely difficult question?
Should the Dean intervene to ensure fairness and to stop such take-home exams?
How can an honest student report that the answer was available online, without risking retaliation? (The student has no evidence that the professor or Dean care.)