2 Responses to Maybe Next Time He’ll Think Before He Cheats

  1. Avatar Dave Kung says:

    This pandemic is a perfect time to question the basic assumption that high-stakes, timed tests, typically focused on mechanical skills are the appropriate way to assess student learning.

    There’s lots of great information out there about Standards/Mastery Based Grading (conference this week: https://www.masterygrading.com/resources) and meta-cognitive questions about the process (Francis Su’s post: https://www.francissu.com/post/7-exam-questions-for-a-pandemic-or-any-other-time)

    Change the grading system and you change students’ incentive structures. Change those and you can greatly reduce academic dishonesty.

  2. Avatar Scott Taylor says:

    Thanks for this post. I agree with everything! But I’d like to add that it’s also really important to think about _why_ some students cheat. For some it’s an expression of entitlement, but for many it’s because they either don’t recognize it as cheating or feel they have no other option. As former Academic Integrity Coordinator for my institution I gave a lot of thought to how to address these issues and learned a lot from the academic integrity community. Here are some ideas I’ve found worthwhile. Most are aimed at those students who would prefer to be honest but might end up making bad decisions; but the last, in particular, is aimed at those who cheat out of a sense entitlement.

    1. Explicitly name what constitutes academic dishonesty, and more importantly, name what academic integrity is and how students can practice it in your class. Insist that they explicitly give credit to others (fellow students, online resources, solutions manuals, etc.) whose work they rely on and do not penalize the act of giving credit (esp. on HW assignments). Academic integrity is a positive good, not just the absence of dishonesty. Communicate in positive ways that you care.

    2. Be clear about what the value of the assignment is and what you hope students will get from it. If students buy into the purpose, they are much less likely to cheat. Provide positive, legitimate online sources students can turn to so they don’t end up on sketchy sites because they have no where else to turn. Point out to them that it is often more valuable to spend an hour struggling with a problem, then an hour surfing the internet looking for “help”.

    3. On take-home exams or other assignments where it is important students demonstrate independent thought, consider offering a legitimate “out” to students who are stuck. Perhaps allow them to use some percentage of the points allotted to a particular problem to “buy” a hint for how to proceed on the problem.

    4. Do not ignore cheating. It doesn’t just hurt the person doing it, it devalues the learning opportunities and hard work of others in the class and trains students to cut corners or to think that personal ethics don’t really matter if it’s inconvenient. Also, students generally want to be confident that their peers are putting forth the same effort and getting the same rewards (both intrinsic and extrinsic) that they are. People who cheat because they feel a sense of entitlement are prone to chronic cheating.

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