Friday, March 5, 2010

Student Cheating: Any Suggestions?

Fellow educators and pedagogues: do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the following situation? My students were writing a mid-term yesterday. After the exam, one of my students (who is also my most brilliant student) told me that another student cheated. Apparently, she had notes on her Ipod and kept consulting them. I looked at the exam and I believe that the student in question was, in fact, cheating. She is a very weak student and her answers to the questions were way too perfect.

Of course, I felt angry and disgusted. I even had nightmares because cheating and plagiarism always traumatize me too much.

So the question is: what should I do about the cheating student? I haven't caught her in the process because I always trust students not to do these things. But I don't think it's right simply to let it go and give her 100% for an exam she wrote by cheating.

Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Have her re-write to test under your direct supervision, on short notice?

That'd be a more "honest" score.

Combined with a stern warning, I'd guess.

Not that my ideas are worth that much in this arena.


Clarissa said...

Why not? I think this is a very good idea.

Bogdan said...

О-хо-хо...Болюча тема...Добра країна, де студент повідомляє про порушення з боку іншого студента...
Але не думаю, що ідея Майка є доброю. Наш, український студент просто відмовився б переписувати, і заявив би що мав місце наклеп. Ми не мали б можливості змусити його. Невже ми більш правова країна, і в вас права студентів зовсім не захищені? :)
Гадаю "поїзд вже пішов", не пійманий - не злодій. Презумпцію невинуватості ніхто не відміняв, а довести факт списування після самого іспиту не є можливим. Тож забудьте про це, але наступного разу будьте пильніші.

В України ми регулярно стикаємось з такими ситуаціями і боротись з ними надзвичайно важко. В нас УСІ студенти намагаються списувати іспити, і ЖОДЕН не тільки не видає, а ще створює алібі для свого колеги.
Останні роки в нас розвелось безліч фірм які виконують завдання для студентів за гроші, які ті потім здають викладачам. І знов таки ми не маємо правових інструментів, щоб з цим боротись.
Не так давно мені довелось робити наказ на виключення з університету студентки, яка за гроші домовилась щоб іспит за неї здавав інший студент... Для цього вони підробили документи...Ми її упіймали і виключили з університету, але я знаю, що студентів які здають таким чином іспит є не мало, і це також значна проблема для нас...І все це дуже сумно.

John said...
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Money said...

Punish the one who told on her. In real life, snitches get killed. In your class, one should be the cause of another's demise? Let the 100 slide, warn the student, and let the snitch know that snitching won't be tolerated.

Clarissa said...

Головна різниця між моїми студентами та студентами з України це те що вони самі можуть вирішуваті які класи їм брати. А якшо сам вирішив, що хочеш вивчати мою матерію, та ще й платиш багато грошів за навчання, навіщо списувати??

Прикро також відчувати, що є студенти, які ввазяють мене ідиоткою. :-(

Clarissa said...

Money: this isn't "snitching". We are not in jail. Neither are we in kindergarten. My good student felt solidarity with her teacher, who teaches her effectively and with dedication, and not with a lazy, cheating slacker. What's wrong with that?

V said...

---In real life, snitches get killed.

Money, real life is much bigger than your little gang. I am telling you that not from some upper-class snobbish position, I've grown up in an environment which qualifies as a ghetto. Go to a psychologist and discuss your perception of any authority figure as some "enemy" to be defied.

Clarissa, I forbid the use of any electronic devices (except calculators, but your students do not need them either) during the exams.

Clarissa said...

I forbid them too. It says so in the syllabus (bold type, underlined) and I mention it on a regular basis. But there are 80 students in ths class, and Ipods are pretty tiny and hard to spot.

In another class, a student once started telling me about his electronic dictionary (all excited): "It's really small, too. So during the exam I can always . . ." Then, of course, he caught himself. :-) I told him thanks for warning me about the dictionary. :-)

Bogdan said...

Так, всім нам прикро це відчувати.

Але ви помиляєтесь щодо різниці. Українська освіта активно вживається в Болонський процес. Вже років 5 як 40% відсотків предметів студенти обирають самостійно. Крім того більшість студентів нашого вузу вчаться на контрактній формі і оплачують своє навчання. Але це нічого не змінює... І списують вони тому-що так простіше здати будь-який предмет, і вибраний і обов"язковий...

tinceiri said...

if it were me i'd make a public example by humiliating the student in front of the class, fail her, and then make a swift case for expulsion

crush the ego of this parasitic cheater and show them no mercy imo

Izgad said...

At Ohio State we have a board that we go to. We are specifically not allowed to accuse any student of cheating. If we suspect or know that someone cheated we pass the claim on to the board and they go from there. This makes things much easier for us the teacher.

Clarissa said...

Izgad: that sounds like a great system. I wish we had something like this.

Clarissa said...

This post seems to be bringing out all kinds of weird things in people. It's funny how some people immediately slip into the recalcitrant child pose when these issues are being discussed.

tinceiri said...

recalcitrant? as a teacher you are supposed to be the ultimate paradox. on the one hand you aren't supposed to give a crap about your students, but on the other hand you are supposed to be careful and precise in crushing their hopes and dreams.

if i were teaching i'd concoct long and elaborate projects that would be totally impossible to pass and if they did somehow pass them then i'd just fail them anyway. if your students don't hate you, then you're doing something wrong.

oh, i'd also randomly invite polemical guest speakers into the classroom just so i could intellectually behead them in front of the students (or invite another polemical guest speaker on the same day who comes from a position that opposes that of the first - which would, of course, totally rule since i'd then turn on the "victor" afterwards before banning them from the campus).

V said...

We also have that system where one should not confront the student, but contact the appropriate administration office. And that is supposed to result in a suspension of a student.

In reality, though, the administration is not interested in dealing with this problem. The student is paying tuition fees, the government pays university some head money... The more students there are, the better. I never tried to push the issue and involve the administration, but those who did claim that the respective office actually encouraged them to let it go.

Clarissa said...

Tinceiri: with all due respect, I have a feeling that you are not very familiar with the higher education system. Your belief that students in a university are assigned "projects" by the professor tells me that you either didn't go to college, or went to a really bad one. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but it should tell you that instead of fantasizing about what college professors do, maybe you should just ask.

Clarissa said...

V.: I tried going to the authorities onve about cheating. That was when I was starting out as a college-level teacher, back at McGill. There I realized that it was a stupid thing to do ecause nobody wanted to deal with the problem. So I guess it's the same everywhere.

Money said...

I'm not in a gang. I've been a victim of one and somehow survived, undergone Witness Protection, and lost the use of my leg. You know why? Because I snitched.

I realized after that, that it just doesn't matter, stupid things like that. Someone dealing drugs, or someone raping somebody... Things like that just don't matter enough to snitch on someone about. Apparently my near-killers wished to convey that message, and they did it well.

Anyway, nobody cares about the nitpicks of academics. It's all a lie anyway. The degree is a piece of paper. I'm actually quite proud of the fact that in college, I did what it took to get the degree. Look at me now, got a job, a car, a beautiful wife (thank God no children), and the fact that I cheated on all my math and liberal arts exams makes NO DIFFERENCE.

Also the Ukranian bit about people being able to choose their courses... Yes people can choose their courses to some extent, but they are still required to B.S. their way through core liberal arts and math, etc. Apparently it's not enough to know about the field you're going into, but about Psychology and Philosophy and other B.S. disciplines as well.

Clarissa said...

Yes, Money, from what you say your degree was apparently a total waste of time. Well, you can't educate people if they resis and you can't help anybody grow as a human being unless they want that as well.

I'm very sorry that your life has turned out in this sad way.

Anonymous said...
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Money said...

--your degree was apparently a total waste of time.

Really? Did you miss the part where I have a job that I wouldn't have had without the piece of paper?

--I'm very sorry that your life has turned out in this sad way.

I'm not. Again, did you miss the part about my job, home, car, and beautiful wife?

Here's the deal. I admire people who want to be educated. But society shouldn't -force- them to be educated in things they don't want to learn about. If people weren't forced in this way, I would believe cheating was wrong, in the fact that the student was wronging herself. But if a student does not want to learn about something, or knows the material but just has trouble with testing time limits, etc., there is nothing wrong with cheating. Please enlighten me as to why it is wrong. You lose nothing, as an instructor, it is always the cheater's loss, right? So why bother?

Clarissa said...

"I'm not. Again, did you miss the part about my job, home, car, and beautiful wife"

-No, it's precisely because of the way you insist on listing your material possessions (including a completely objectified wife) that I feel so much compassion for you.

None of my students were forced by anybody to take my course. So your argument doesn't apply here. The reason why this cheater hurts my entire classroom of 80 students is that when everybody sees that a cheater gets rewarded they get discouraged from working hard and applying themselves. The reason why cheating stidents hurt me is because I don't particularly enjoy it when somebody tries to make an idiot out of me. Would you enjoy that?

As to the having trouble with time limits during a test, every student has an opportunity to write the test in my office and take as much time as they need. One student actually did just that last Thursday. And she didn't need to cheat or lie to get this opportunity.

Money said...

--they get discouraged from working hard and applying themselves

Why should they be discouraged? This is their own weakness. They should be motivated not because of grades in a class, but by the fact that this knowledge will be of help later in life. Perhaps you may share with me, the nature of your course? I'm guessing philosophy or sociology or something.

--every student has an opportunity to write the test in my office and take as much time as they need

I wish I could have taken a class from you, then, if it had been possible. I struggled with ADHD long before it was the fad of today's psychiatrists. One hour for a test that would take me 2 hours led to disastrous results unless I cheated.

--completely objectified wife

I'm trying hard not to be offended by this statement. Could you elaborate? I said she is beautiful. I never said I cage her up and treat her as a sex object and completely ignore her otherwise. Quite the opposite, in fact, I love her more than anything in the world, we are madly in love with each other even after 10 years together and 6 of those married. She is an equal to me in all of our decisions together and I despise men who treat their women as "trophy wives."

I listed my posessions, yes, because that is what America is all about these days. If I had no job, or no car, or no house, the fact that I am in love with my wife makes no difference to the world. Sadly, this is true. I would be perfectly happy huddled in a cardboard box so long as I had my wife with me. The world, however, would label me as a loser, and criticize me for not contributing anything meaningful to the world, even though I've found my reason for being alive, and it's her.

I'll check on this later. I have to prepare my plans for work tomorrow.

Clarissa said...

You listed your wife after the car, the job, and the house. If my husband wrote about me in this way, he soon wouldn't be my husband any more.

I am very understanding of students with ADHD and always accomodate them. I'm sorry your professors didn't do the same. This is very wrong!

If you had taken more courses in philosophy, then probably you wouldn't care as much whether other people or some unidentified "world" considered you a loser. If you had taken courses in psychology, you would realize that these belief are something that come from you and that you project them on the world. As they say, we wouldn't worry so much about what people think about us, if we only knew how little time people spend thinking about others.

My course is on Hispanic Civilization.

Since you are not a tacher, you wouldn't know how a class dynamics works and what components go into making a classroom a comfortable and productive place for every one. I'm not saying you need to know this, since it isn't your profession. But it is mine, and I know from long experience that one cheater hurts the entire class. 79 students are suffering because of one loser. That's unfair.

Money said...

--If my husband wrote about me in this way, he soon wouldn't be my husband any more.

Really? So it's that important to you, you'd really leave your husband over something as small as listing you "after" something else? I feel sorry for him. He obviously doesn't mean that much to you. (or are you speaking figuratively, and do not have one?) Is the way I speak the judge of what kind of husband I am? Perhaps I placed her at the end to save the best for last, as I often do? Your comment is very weak, because of the simple fact that leaving someone over as small a thing as that, without even understanding it, is a terribly shallow and callous thing to do.

--I am very understanding of students with ADHD and always accomodate them.

Again, I'm very glad to hear it. This is the kind of attitude which needs to be widespread...

--If you had taken more courses in philosophy [...] If you had taken courses in psycology

I took a couple of them... I had to. Introduction to Ethics and Introduction to Philosophy. Both were rather bland and made me depressed, so I dispensed with them after the grade was recorded. If I wanted to spend my entire life in metathought about how nothing really matters, I'd probably have continued with those disciplines. As for psychology... I had to take that Intro class as well, it actually was intriguing and I agree that people don't spend that much time thinking about others. It just hurts when people insult you (as I have been for my disabilities) and wears on you after a while, and thus you become sensitive to the opinions of others. I apologize for my weakness, but I still don't think listing my possessions makes me a lesser person.

I am not a teacher, you're right. I suppose I don't understand classroom dynamics. But the fact that you call your cheater a "loser" is rather insulting. That you, as a teacher, are ready and willing to degrade someone for simply trying to succeed is unnerving. I really wish you would, instead of blindly judging the student, consult them about why they did what they did and see if they need help. Even with much encouragement from higher-ups, I remember asking for help being such an embarrassing thing to do. Perhaps she just needs your help.

Clarissa said...

So cheating is equal to "simply trying to succeed"? Succeed in what exactly? In getting a degree that you do not deserve? In being a good liar? What a weird defintion of success.

If you don't feel you would be offended by your wife saying: "I'm happy that I have my car, my handbag, my expensive shoes, and my husband", this shows that you do not perceive your value as a human being very high. People with high self-esteem find it offensive to be listed together with material possessions because they don't see themselves as yet another material object to be enjoyed. Thankfully, it would never occur either to me or to my hsband to refer to each other in this way. We see each other as human beings, not as a yet another thing we own.

I find your suggestion to talk to the student and ask if she need help useful and productive. I think this is what I will do after the spring break. Thanks for the good advice!

Izgad said...


Forgive me for saying this, but I do not believe your little autobiography. I cannot prove you are lying, but it sounds too much like something out of a bad novel or a rap song. In my world, if something sounds like a bad novel it probably is. Thus I would see you as guilty until proven innocent. Furthermore you imply that you cheated your way through college. So you are a confirmed liar. In essence you being a cheat is the one thing I believe about you. If you had been privileged to have trained historians like Clarissa or me, paid attention and did not simply cheat, you might have learned about this sort of critical analysis.

tinceiri said...

i just think that you should be able to demolish a student's academic future on a whim. what's wrong with that?


V said...


--Things like that just don't matter enough to snitch on someone about. Apparently my near-killers wished to convey that message, and they did it well.

Well, it means they won (I tend to agree with Izgad, but still will give you some benefit of doubt) - they did not kill you, but they made you walk around advocating the gang ways...

Anonymous said...

tinceiri: are you mildly insane?

I just looked at your profile and it confirmed my suspicion