Monday, September 10, 2012

Face it: some students do cheat!

The New York Times has a good article Studies show more students cheating, with high achievers no exception which is worth reading.

Here are a few practical suggestions to those of us involved in teaching.

1. Don't live in denial. It does happen.
2. Make sure at several stages in a course (e.g., the introduction, before specific assessment is due) tell/remind/exhort students about cheating. Try and be specific about what it is and isn't.
3. Don't assume that just because you said it once in class or wrote it in the course profile that students heard, understood, or internalised it.
4. When it does happens, make sure you do discipline students, in accordance with course and institutional policies. Private words and "slaps on the wrist" are ineffective. It is very important that student records reflect repeat offences.

Unfortunately, all of the above is a hassle and just increases our workload. But, if we don't act nothing is going to change.

I welcome other suggestions.

1 comment:

  1. I did assignments with classmates, and occasionally copied an entire problem down. To my shame I felt absolutely no shame. And if I found a solution set on the net (Kittel's statistical physics rings a bell), I used it.

    Not sure how usual or unusual I am, but I would tend to think that all students cheat at various times. The university medal winner I went through with cheated at various times...

    The article had an interesting statistic: something like 2/3 cheat and 3/4 consider their ethics are higher than average!

    What I wonder is what the incentives should be for students to not cheat. Unfortunately when there's a grade involved, the intrinsic benefits (which are obvious) dwindle in priority. So cheating becomes natural. It's well established (I have references) that rewards are a disincentive to genuine progress. Offer a reward for good behaviour/performance, and behaviour/performance will decline.

    So what's with grading?

    I don't teach, so I can blindly wonder ... I would appreciate sensible input on this question.