Cheating? Really? Are you positive?
Cheating is sometimes a hard call and other times it is not even questionable.
Here’s my story:
One day I decided once to give my students extra time on an exam the next day because I had made it too long . I was trying to be nice but maybe not one of my wisest decisions. Looking back, it changed the way I wrote tests and administered them in the future – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Someone took a copy of the test when he/she left class and shared it with friends. It was very evident that this had happened and a couple of students came to see me when they found out this out. It was also obvious that not all students saw it but most of them knew about it. I couldn’t eat or sleep while I was trying to figure out what to do. (Now students don’t even have to take the physical test if they can get pictures with their mobile devices.) I gathered my facts and took them to the principal. I laid out my plan, got his input, and made sure I had his support for what I was going to do. (Don’t forget to do this if you get in this situation! ) Next, I sent a letter home to parents, wrote another exam, and required all students to take it over since I couldn’t tell for sure who all were involved. It wasn’t a popular decision with all students or parents, but in my opinion, it was the most fair thing to do. The funny thing is, that some of the students I know were involved had the parents who were most outraged that their child had to take the test over. My whole body was a mess for a long time after and the relationship that I had with that class was back to the “prove to me you’re worthy of my trust.” BTW, did I mention it was an AP Calculus class with potential valedictorians in the class, and that it was when I had a student teacher?
To make things worse
Now there are all sorts of other complications.
- Is it cheating if students go home and find the answers to problems on the Internet or just simply using resources available to them. Or, is it the teacher’s problem with the assignment/questions or both?
- How do you fight plagiarism or prove it and encourage original thoughts? Are there original thoughts that could have been original to someone else, somewhere else, at a different or the same time for someone else? Does the Internet make it easier or harder to prove? (I know there are free plagiarism checker sites like http://grammarly.com or www.dustball.com/cs/plagiarism.checker/ or www.plagiarismchecker.com/ to mention a few.)
- How do teachers model their ethics and “following the rules” when it comes to copyright and their use of images and other content from the Internet? See some guidelines at http://smartboardsmarty.wikispaces.com/Copyright+Issues+and+Notebook+files and a good presentation : http://www.slideshare.net/wfryer/copyright-for-educators?type=presentation
- What’s the difference between collaboration and plagiarism? If you aren’t sure, how can your students know?
Here are some articles to check out and maybe help you think this through. Warning: Don’t expect that all of your questions will be answered.
- Digital Tools Raise Questions about what is and what is not cheating by Katie Ash (August 21, 2013) –http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/08/students_need_more_guidance_on.html
- Read the stats about Harvard’s freshmen in the class of 2017 By Matthew Yglesias (Posted Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 ) http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/09/05/harvard_cheaters_crimson_survey_finds_lots_of_cheating.html
- Moving from Cheating to Academic Honesty By Eugene Bratek – http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/10/17/08bratek.h32.html
- Cheating Runs Rampant: No Child Left Behind has unleashed a nationwide epidemic of cheating. Will education reformers wake up? by Daniel Denvir ( May 25, 2012) – http://www.salon.com/2012/05/25/cheating_runs_rampant/