Friday, March 19, 2010

What About Cheating?

The topic of cheating has come up a couple of times in the last week. Once with a colleague in my school and once in an online conversation. Most schools/districts have some sort of honor policy which makes the procedure pretty simple: zero on the assignment, contact home and record in the file--or some variation of this.

Buy where does learning fit into the policy? If you use standards based grading, do you allow the student to take a re-assessment at a later date? Or better yet, If you use standards based grading, why would a kid cheat in the first place? Do re-assessments encourage poor study skills as kids know they have a safety net in the form of a "do over?"

We all know what a zero does to a final grade. And that grade never reflects what a student actually knows. Should the consequences of cheating show up in the final marks at all?

And yet again, no answers, but lots of questions.



4 comments:

Kate Nowak said...

Despite my protests on Twitter, I guess I'm philosophically against artificially lowering a grade because of a cheating incident. I just don't have a resolution for the mechanics of how to handle it that wouldn't unfairly burden a teacher.

With administrative support, you could impose non-grade-related consequences for cheating. For example, we are supposed to fill out an "academic integrity violation" form - these get put in the student's disciplinary file, which are reviewed for example when the student applies to National Honor Society. Since "character" is one of the NHS pillars, this form in a student's file can keep them out of NHS.

I've also told a student I was unwilling to write a college recommendation because she cheated in my class.

Those aren't really serious consequences, but at least it's something. And it's not like I want to ruin a kid's life; I just want them to get the message that a lack of integrity makes people lose trust and goodwill toward you.

jbdyer said...

Buy where does learning fit into the policy? If you use standards based grading, do you allow the student to take a re-assessment at a later date?

Yes. After a frank chat.

Or better yet, If you use standards based grading, why would a kid cheat in the first place?

Why they always have cheated. They want to skip the learning part and go straight to the grade.

Frustrates me terribly.

Do re-assessments encourage poor study skills as kids know they have a safety net in the form of a "do over?"

Sort of. I've found this depends a lot on context. Usually it is isolated enough cases can be dealt with individually.

Matt Townsley said...

"Do re-assessments encourage poor study skills as kids know they have a safety net in the form of a "do over?"
I don't think so. It really depends on the re-take policy. I tell my students something along the lines of 'Re-takes require more time and effort on my end, so I require the same on your end, too. Please do these problems or write a page about this concept or ________ and once you've demonstrated you have a new understanding of the learning target, I'll create a new mini-assessment for you to take.' It eliminates blind re-takes (silly) and creates a level of accountability for all parties involved.

A question was raised about scoring a student who cheated. I don't have a real good answer either. I had two students cheat on a quiz that wasn't even graded (although it may have been too early in the semester for it to really sink in that quizzes are never graded in this class) and they earned a nice chat with Mr. T out in the hallway. In general though, it raises a larger question...what should a grade represent...what a student knows and can do (academic only) or some sort of academic/responsibility/character hybrid? I tend to lean towards the former, but I know others may disagree, hence the discussion about 'grades' that aren't earned.

Mr. W said...

Personally, I think that the cheating should be reflected in the final grade. The students need to see the consequence of their actions.

I know that I don't see eye to eye with you guys on the standards based grading, so we will keep that out.

But if you allow them to carry on like business as usual, what have you taught them? All through our teacher prep classes we heard about "teachable moments". This is one such moment. What happens to an individual if they are caught cheating in college? Or in their jobs? Is everything forgotten? I think we all know the answer to that one.