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One of the best ways to discourage cheating is to create "cheat proof" assignments. IFor example, instead of assigning the "mythical god" report, have the kids learn about a god or goddess, and then create a resume that gives the background info and all the reasons why this diety should get the opening at "God Jobs." From that resume, they can have an interview for the job where they explain their qualifications and expertise. This oral demonstration would then teach the rest of the kids some background info about other dieties, give practice in oral presentation, and help kids learn how to organize and prioritize information. I believe that teachers oftentimes assign work that kids can just cut and paste, and then they are surprised when kids do just that. Fewer assignments that require more thought in in-depth discovery will help stop cheating.
There are some very interesting comments on this thread. I don't think students are different from any other human beings who cheat. Like the old song says, they want "money for nothing and the chicks (so to speak) for free." If they can find a way to do it, some feel it's a legitimate option.
Why read a whole book if they can get away with reading only part of it, if any? Why study for test if there is a different way get an A? Am I the only one who talks to adults (unfortunately, some in education) who brag about how little reading they did in college and still managed to pass?
The problem is what has become of our definition of what it means to be an educated person. Some people equate it with the grade or the diploma/degree. A fake education is not an education, and you can't get a real education by letting someone else write your essays and other forms of cheating.
We tolerate too many lies in public life and we don't need to be excusing our students so that their generation can add to the problem. We need to exemplify integrity and honesty and tell them we expect it of them. If we give them the easy way out by making excuses, we harm them by letting them think they are somehow unworthy of being a person of integrity.
I agree 100%. When testing just requires that they recite back facts, you'll get cheating because there's no need to really 'know' anything. Assessments that require higher level thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creating - that's when true learning with understanding takes place.
In the past I didn't have this problem. I would make at least three different verisons of a test by using a test generator. But now that my school district is requiring every subject complete short cycle assessments and benchmark tests. Thus I have no control over the problems and how they are presented. Now my number of cheaters have risen. I have discussed this matter with parents, principal, and the student. At first the student did care but then that quickly faded. So I completely understand about the problem of cheating and could use some help too.
I have never understood why a teacher would write a test that was intended to stump and fail the students. I have always felt the test should be an opportunity for the students to "show off" what they have learned. I have often given my students a kind of "pep talk" prior to test day, encouraging them to prepare like they would for any performance so they can be ready to "go on stage" and perform. One can not really cheat on stage under the bright lights. I would hope that my students would be more eager to perform on their test and show me what they have learned than they would be tempted to cheat. I feel that the more emphasis we place on grades than on learning the more that encourages cheating instead of understanding.
I have a dilemma. In the innercity schools that I have taught in for the past 20 years, most of my students don't care enough about school to cheat- nobody wants to be "schoolboy." Therefore, when somebody cared enough to cheat, I was put in the position of either coming down hard on her, and turning her off to education, or letting her get away with it, which was also not the message I wanted to give.
When I subsequently talked with her mother- the typical single African American female trying to do the best she could on her own- I suggested that she get her child out of public schools, which would only socially promote her natively intelligent daughter through the grades without assuring she had mastery of any grade-level standards.
Luckily, the mother was a registered nurse who could pick up and go elsewhere. For the vast majority of my students in LAUSD which is 73% Latino and only 8% White, this is not an option.
How smart can White people be as they sit in their bumper to bumper gridlock on the Westside of L.A. to not have figured out that we will not build the infrastructure necessary to survive as a society in the long run or in the short run during the next 10 years with a projected 1 million new residents, unless we get all of our children to their potential, so cheating is not necessary.
One thing we need to look at is why are our students having to cheat. If teachers are doing more assessing while the content is being taught or reviewed, the students should have a better understanding of what they will be formally assessed on later. One best practice is to provide quick, more frequent, assessments that can be made several times in one class period. I have seen many teachers doing this using a student response system CPS, Senteo, Quizdom, etc.). It can provide feedback immediately to the teacher so that they can do an immediate assesment as opposed to waiting for the student to flunk a test or quiz and then go back and re-teach when it is too late. This is a method where the teacher can know who is not mastering the content without calling on a student in front of the entire class. I understand that purchasing these systems are very costly and are not in everyone's district tech budget (should you have one), but you can also research and apply for grant opportunities.
To avoid cheating we need to be assessing students knowledge with other ways besides high stakes testing. Oral exams and projects are two possibilities.
The best way to mitigate against cheating is to know your students and engage with them in their learning.
Quit giving tests. No tests, no cheating. The whole idea of schooling is to demonstrate that one has increased one's knowledge and can use it in unique situations so, let's start there. If we want to see if a student can memorize because it is important, then create a problem where memorization is important and worthwhile. If we want them to understand the effects of global warming or how communication technology affects different age-groups, then create a problem or have them demonstrate a hypothesis to these questions. Don't cram them with "stats" and "definitions" and ..... Let them use them in truly solving problems, like a small child who figures out how to finally open a door. Once they learn it, the world is their playground - unless the backyard is fenced and then they have a few more problems to overcome.