When Students Cheat (And When They Don’t)

Academic cheating is not my favorite topic to think, talk, or write about. Too negative. But when cheating surfaces in our schools and classrooms, we’re better off if we know how to approach it and respond.

This blog post was jump-started by a Chicago Tribune article today that quoted my distaste for sites like Turnitin.com, so I’ll begin there. I’m not a big believer in Turnitin.com – a subscription web site that some schools use to prevent plagiarism. Schools that use Turnitin.com require students to upload their work to the site before submitting it to the teacher with a “receipt” indicating that it has cleared Turnitin.com’s plagiarism detectors.

Why should we base our schools’ cheating policies on such a presumption of guilt? When we use procedures to prevent cheating that impact non-cheaters, we contaminate their attitudes toward learning. Schools requiring students to submit their work to Turnitin.com before it will be accepted by a teacher are saying to kids, “We don’t trust you, not a single one of you. We can’t catch you cheating, but we don’t trust you.” None of us would want that kind of presumptive attitude applied to our work, and students feel the same way. Using Turnitin.com has enormous implications for student morale in our schools.

I’m sure the corporate honchos at Turnitin.com have their legal ducks in a row, but there are still some ethical ducks quacking when we require students to provide their academic work to a for-profit company before we will evaluate it. Consider that Turnitin.com uses our students’ work to enhance its database, which they then sell to other schools. When we require students to use Turnitin.com, we’re pimping our students’ writing and their intellectual efforts. It may be legal but it’s not right.

Some educators cite technology as the reason for an increase in student cheating. I can’t agree. I don’t think there are more cheaters today. Cheaters are going to cheat, or at least try to cheat. A certain percentage of people are amoral, and technology doesn’t make that number go up or down. It might change the mode of cheating, but it doesn’t change the percentage.

On the contrary, technology is the biggest accelerator of learning in generations. Prohibiting technology in schools because of concerns about cheating is a classic case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  After all, students used to use crib notes for cheating but we never considered prohibiting paper! The problem is the behavior, not the devices. If we deal with the unethical behavior, the devices will be a benefit and not a problem.

As I said in the Trib article, the best way to prevent plagiarism and cheating is to design learning experiences that cannot be accomplished through cheating. If we ask students to report learning that can be looked up on or copied from an online source, we haven’t really asked them to learn anything. Many schools, classes, and teachers are moving toward the “flipped” model of instruction where technology allows students to spend more time discovering and synthesizing information in ways that are uniquely relevant to them rather than taking in information from a teacher and then regurgitating it on a test. When students report on that kind of learning, it’s highly individualized but still covers the curricular objectives, and is therefore less likely to be the result of cheating. (Or if their reporting is copied from someone else, it’s painfully obvious.) This is the kind of learning that prepares our students for living in a technology-filled 21st century. Teaching students to use technology effectively and ethically is one of our responsibilities.

So what should happen when a student cheats? Cheating is not an academic problem; cheating is a disciplinary problem. A cheater makes a behavioral choice to cheat, and that behavior needs to have some clear disciplinary consequences. Schools are places of learning, and students need to learn that choosing to cheat is not OK. Schools have a cultural obligation to promote ethical behavior.

One of the most uncomfortable situations for a teacher is when we suspect a student is cheating, but we can’t catch her or him, and we can’t prove that cheating is going on. How do we punish cheaters that we can’t catch? My answer is you can’t punish someone without proof. It’s hard to do, but my advice is to let it go if you don’t have proof.

But when you have the proof, that student needs to have consequences that will help her or him learn that cheating is wrong. If you are a teacher with the authority to apply disciplinary measures, do it when you have the proof. If you work in a school where administration needs to be involved, insist on consequences and follow-up with those administrators to make sure that the consequences have been applied.

If you are an administrator reading this, please consider that it’s almost always easier for a teacher to look the other way on cheating situations and just avoid all the unpleasantness that goes with it. So when a teacher comes to you with cheating concerns, please take the situation seriously. If a teacher brings you suspicions of cheating, please listen and provide your best counsel. But if a teacher brings you proof of cheating, punish the cheaters and make it hurt. Don’t play “good cop” and give second chances. Don’t hide behind IEPs or 504 Plans and say your hands are tied. No valid IEP or 504 can consider cheating as acceptable behavior. If your school becomes a cesspool of cheating, good kids will get the message that cheating is accepted and even expected at your school. Authentic learning will stop at your school if cheating becomes the norm.

So, the best way to approach cheating is to prevent, prevent, prevent. We can do this by fostering environments in our schools and classrooms that emphasize learning over grades. We can preclude plagiarism and other forms of cheating by designing creative learning experiences that only work when students report their own individual learning experiences. We can make cheating less likely by modeling openness, honesty and ethical behavior in our dealings with students. If we model respect in our classes, students are more likely to act respectfully and less likely to cheat.

But cheating will still happen on occasion, and each of us is likely to deal with at least a handful of nasty cheating episodes in our teaching careers. When students cheat, we need to keep our emotions in check, maintain our professionalism, and apply consequences to that behavior that make the student more likely to choose different behaviors in the future.

Please don’t let plagiarism and cheating concerns become your primary focus at work. That’s not healthy. Enjoy your work. Now let’s talk about something else.

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62 Responses to When Students Cheat (And When They Don’t)

  1. Gary,

    I agree with you when you argue that we shouldn’t “base our schools’ cheating policies on such a presumption of guilt.” You’re right that we would not want to be seen in this negative light every day we walk in the building, and students probably don’t, either. I think especially in English, it’s important to design assignments that foster student curiosity and individuality. This is very doable with papers, speeches, projects, quizzes, etc., everything we do in class right now. If we are forced to move to multiple-guess responses for all things English, I’m not sure that will be the case.

  2. Jimmy Wyman says:

    Isn’t this a tempest in a teapot? If a student goes through the pre-writing, rough draft, first copy, second copy, phases of writing the paper, the teacher is seeing every stage, right? So if a student misses all these stages and then hands in an “A” paper, the teacher should suspect something. It sounds to me that some teachers assign a paper and then never say another thing about the paper until the paper is due. That’s how trouble occurs. The kid procrastinates and then buys a paper online at two in the morning on the day he/she is supposed to hand in the paper. If the teacher always has the paper in front of him/her, and the kids are always being asked to show how they are progressing on the assignment, then there should be no problems.

    • Mechasketch says:

      I think that’s not necessarily true. Writing papers always came easy to me. I gave in papers I had written the day of and got As without ever writing a single draft and only because writing was my best subject. I knew lots of kids who procrastinated and didn’t end up buying papers. I agree with the author that people who are going to cheat, cheat, although I wouldn’t call it being “amoral” as I think its heavy-handed to refer to children, especially since there are a lot of factors behind cheating, we can’t assume everyone who cheats has no morals. Especially in today’s hyper competitive academic world, and so many exams, bad performance can seem like a career-ender for some students. What about the students who tried, who studied, who had tutors and STILL failed. That was me in math, to this day, I can barely add, and it wasn’t for lacking of trying, my mind just never wrapped around it. If I cheated because I knew that I had failed a class 3 times already and wouldn’t be able to graduate from high school without those credits, am I amoral? I went on to graduate from college with triple honors with a degree in English without ever having to cheat. But my math skills: horrendous.

      • taniamend says:

        I agree with you. My son always studies his lessons, he’s good in english but math is not is thing. Sometimes I got frustrated even I tried hard to teach him the rules, the formulas but end up in a passing grade but at the back of my mind I know he could do better, but still I know every person has his own liking/stuff. As a parent try not to introduce cheating as an option to pass. Once the child enters highschool/college the crowd steps in “lets try this/let’s do this” unless there’s a teacher with the same attitude as the author, who mold students well.

    • lomhk says:

      I am a A student and I have never Pre-Writen any paper seriously (and have never cheated) in my life just because didnt go through all the stages dosnt mean didnt write a good paper and is rude to assume that a student is cheating because they did hand in a good paper. and just because a student does go through all the writing stages dosnt mean that they didnt cheat, cheating is easyer then what people think it is. and any lazy student who dosnt feel like doing there work and will cheat.

    • ElCid says:

      Many of us use turnitin.com on occasion even when students have been through a process and many times it is for their own protection, e.g. before submitting an IA or EE for the IB. I have my student look at the reports themselves and I often leave the service open so they can check their own work – it’s not papers bought online that we’re looking for, it’s things like patchwork paraphrasing. The colored highlighting is a great way for students to build awareness of how they are writing or where there is a weak spot. Last, in terms of writing I have seen a jump in cheating/plagiarism over the last decade. The cut & paste and google generation tends to get into trouble because of the nature of technologies available. When we typed papers we couldn’t go online, find a paragraph, paste it and change a few words. Does this mean kids are less ethical now? No evidence without a time machine and a look back into the minds of students but there seem to be a lot more ways to quickly use academic product that isn’t yours.

  3. EC says:

    As I see it, technology is not at all “the biggest accelerator of learning in generations.” I’m an English teacher, and I see no clear acceleration of learning among my students. What they need to do most is to read a lot, and technology doesn’t help most students read more. As for cheating, however, I think I basically agree with you!


  4. vanbraman says:

    Good thoughts. I believe that one of the best ways to prevent cheating is to teach students how to properly cite their sources. They then become aware of the importance of crediting their sources. When in my on-line masters program, I was able to quickly identify the writing styles of the other students through the discussions. You could easily tell when others were copying and pasting information and when they were writing down their own thoughts. I believe that we as educators can use the same skills to monitor our own students. Looking for consistency in both their spoken and written voice.

  5. Samantha says:

    I think the bottom line with technology is that everyone is going to do essentially the same thing they were going to do without technology. People that were going to cheat are going to cheat with or without the technology, people that weren’t going to read or use the internet responsibly or usefully aren’t going to use any other types of information/resources responsibly or usefully. Technology is not the problem, it’s human nature. Yet, technology seems to make the world a little smaller so we can see the magnitude of the problem that much clearer.

  6. mummymishy says:

    Great post and I love your approach. Creating assignments that students must use their personal experiences to formulate essays – where learning is the focus, is brilliant. A well written post and thoughts to ponder. Thank you!
    My latest post: http://wp.me/p2uEVw-aH

  7. noviinternet says:

    I like your text. The conclusion remark is great. We have the same problems here in Serbia (Europe :)) and try to solve them. A agree completely with the idea of prevention and model of respect. Is it OK if I use some parts of your text (I will quote :)) in my text about educational problems?
    Regards from Belgrade :)

  8. I agree with you on that in order to prevent cheating teachers should create assignments that are harder to cheat on (something that requires observation and critical thinking rather than mindless regurgitation of facts). As a student myself I hate it when classmates cheat and get better grades than people who actually did the work.

  9. Turning in my work to Turnitin.com in my masters program was thoroughly unsatisfying — couldn’t agree much more with the effect it has on the honest student. The attitude betrayed toward technology is surely absurd (for paper also is technology as you pointed out): we teachers need to guide our students away from misuses of technology rather than instill fear.

    I ‘d be interested to hear how plagiarism incidents might be occasions not only for appropriate punishment but also for learning experiences. Most of all, however, I really dig the ‘I am the teacher…’ pic. Cheers.

  10. Delft says:

    I believe that a respectful attitude is better than general suspicion.
    I love the illustration.
    I am assuming you made it yourself, like all the cartoons and photos on this site, as nothing is credited to anyone else. And of course that would be cheating… Yes, the internet does make it easy to steal a photo or cartoon, doesn’t it?
    So another point in fostering honesty may be… setting a good example?

  11. davehurwitz says:

    I teach remedial English at a California community college. Believe it or not, most of my students simply don’t know the difference between incorporating sources into their work in a reasonable manner and cut-&-paste cheating. This is what the internet, where everybody ‘borrows’ everything from everybody else, has done to a whole generation of students. I spend at lot of class time making these distinctions and explaining the ethical concerns behind them. However, the general attitude when they come in the door is that if they ‘discover’ something on line, they have a ‘right’ to copy into an essay and call it theirs. Some students are frankly amazed that this isn’t true.

    • Mechasketch says:

      I think its also dangerous because a lot of the times when a person reads and re-reads a text and then sits down to write a paper, they can sometimes think they’re having an original idea without realizing that they’ve definitely just lifted something from a text. I’ve done it before completely by accident, I can’t read Jude the Obscure a second time after writing my paper just to be sure I didn’t accidentally copy a line of the text into my paper, because that book is incredibly long. I do it in my own writing, especially if I’m reading a book during my own editing stages. I’ll write something down and be like yeah, this is genius, wow, it’s so great…wait I’ve definitely seen this before somewhere. HA!

  12. Thembi Zulu says:

    I love the post! Although cheating is a universal problem, not a lot of people actually handle the topic. It is mostly ignored. Thank you.

  13. Baciagalupo says:

    Did you know plagiarism is actually a ‘European invention’? The Europeans came up with the idea of intellectual property, and with the idea that stealing someone else’s intellectual property is a crime. What do you do with cultures who have not gone through this phase of commodifying intelligence, like Asian cultures, for example?

  14. I’m very interested in this topic as one of my children who has never cheated in his life was accused of cheating when he lent his paper to a good friend (who had fallen behind because he was travelling to represent his school in sports)…my son just thought he was helping a mate with homework (it was only the second last year of school, NOT the final critical year). The problem was:
    1) the ‘mate’ used my son’s paper word for word, highlighting the fact he cheated
    2) the fact that this boy had done this 3 times before and no-one at the school had phoned his parents, rather they sent a letter which he apparently retrieved from the letter box before they got home…..so the school had failed to really deal with the problem at a grass roots level
    3) My son’s general naive care for his friend and belief he was just helping and supporting him….. we had to explain that lending a friend your homework in that second last year of school was considered cheating…..They both lost all their marks.
    4) In another year, a very well known student actually sat an exam early under special circumstances and then left the school and phoned the questions into his friends….he did not have his marks removed and he was in the final year with marks contributing to uni entrances….seemingly it’s who you know.

  15. Martyna says:

    I think a big problem is transformation (from the traditional methods of teaching to the modified ones), which is demanding from teachers and they really need to be passionate about teaching to make the effort, show some creativity. And we forget that sometimes teachers don’t care enough about cheating to change their ways :(
    Nice post and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  16. Jean Davison says:

    I think getting students to focus on how their personal experiences relate to the topics, along with citing resources, is the right way to go. One of the problems, as I see it, is the idea that the word ‘I’ should never be used in essays. When I did my degree, I was repeatedly pulled up for using’ I’ to bring my own thoughts, opinions, experiences into my work. It was as if the word ‘I’ was seen to contaminate the essay by showing a lack of objectivity. Maybe it’s not the same where you are, but this is certainly prevalent in universities in the UK, and all it does, in my opinion, is hinder ‘true’ learning. For students to read up on what others say and then put it into their own words to show they understand what they’ve read (and cite the resources used) is fine for a start. But then surely they need to go further than that and here’s where doing verbal acrobatics to not use the word ‘I’ hinders the learning process.

  17. Reblogged this on Vladnama and commented:
    I like it. From now on, individual assignments only!

  18. yourothermotherhere says:

    This post made me think of the good, and bad teachers of my “formal” education. You are right. The good teachers were the ones that didn’t teach straight facts to be regurgitated on demand. The good ones made learning fun by encouraging independent thinking. (Thank you Mr. Jim Davies!)

  19. fusr2 says:

    Why do students cheat ? Because they see politicians, bankers, corporate institutions and the police all … Lying cheating and stealing….. Simple.

  20. TheOriginalBURP says:

    As a high-school student who is required to submit his work to turnitin.com, I agree that it’s degrading to those of us who really do the work without even considering ‘cheating’. I was surprised to read that my work, my precious words, are stored in their data-base and used against other students, and I don’t even understand how they can do that. I mean, the work is mine, after all; they can’t sell it! Great post, I think it’s great that you’re handling this sensitive issue.

  21. dmarshall58 says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your emphasis on prevention. If we were all giving fresh assignments and following students through the process we’d have no reason to fear cheating at all. Cheating often seems to arise from a fundamental cynicism with education–“You don’t seem to care,” the students may be telling us, “why should I?” Having said that, I do think technology has made cheating easier to do, harder to detect definitively, and generally more acceptable among students. And, okay, I do sort of blame tecnology. Like you, I’d rather not presume guilt, but my students often express skepticism about the whole CONCEPT of “intellectual ownership”—”What HASN’T been said before?” they ask—and they live in a tecnological universe where they’re quite used to “borrowing” words, images, sounds, and narratives. That seems the biggest change in the 30 years I’ve been teaching. Since our children’s infancy, advertising has been telling them ease, access, and immediacy are the highest values. Some absorb that influence more readily than others, but to me, the biggest fight isn’t cheating per se but convincing students to put their computers away for a while and think on their own.

  22. I’m a high school student and almost my entire class cheats in every little exam! I guess you are right that we attach too much importance to grades which is why most students feel the need to. But most copy a friend’s work and alter it slightly to fool the teacher. They pass around erasers and rulers with answers written on them. Most even exchange answer sheet in all sorts of exams! And I in no way imply that the invigilators take their jobs lightly! But the students are adept at their job. Hence, no amount of caution and cunning will be sufficient enough to count as proof. The only thing a teacher can do, in my view, is to take the student in confidence and be more of guiding friend than a correction officer!

  23. Chef Nusy says:

    Great post, and much needed… I’m currently in college, and for the second time around. I first attended college back in Europe; Hungary, to be precise. There, cheating was officially banned and very much illegal; but in reality, everyone did it, and professors expected you to cheat. The amount of knowledge we had to retain word-for-word for the tests was inhuman, and sometimes it very literally meant learning the entire textbook by heart, including just about the page numbers as well. We had tests where the teacher took passages from the textbook, made some blanks in it with White-Out, and we had to fill in the exact words from the book. And to enable us to come even close to passing – every exam, she would get up, and announce she’s taking a 15 minute “coffee break,” during which the class was left unsupervised in a locked classroom. The worst part? Even this way, most people barely pulled a C. In my first semester, I gave it a push and tried to do without cheating, and I had to realize if I wanted anything better than a D (which is still a passing grade there, but just about kills any scholarship chances), I *need* to get some illegal help.
    On the other hand, now that I’m attending college in California, I am shocked by the relative ease of classes/exams, and how people still try to cheat on them. I never realized the point of Turnitin.com – but this is kind of creepy. At my old college in Hungary, teachers usually relied on “old-fashioned” methods of detecting plagiarism, and they still proved accurate. Two essays saying the exact same thing? Probably worked together. Writing skill way above usual? Check Google, probably copy/paste. Any other suspicions? Ask the student a few questions after next class on the essay topic: if they actually wrote it, they should have at least a basic understanding of the topic.
    And I agree with those above who say that students just see their own grades too hard – I’m the same way. But when quite a few of us live off of our grants and scholarships, we need to keep those GPA’s in the sky to be able to make ends meet, especially when you have a competitive grant system like CalGrants…. Maybe making it easier for students to either work and study at the same time, or making financial aid less competitive or more livable could help with this situation?

  24. dellasman says:

    A good, thoughtful post. Makes me glad I only taught for one year!

  25. alco67 says:

    Reblogged this on Alco the Visioneer and commented:
    Teachers are no longer the so called “Gate-Keepers” of knowledge as they once were. As the overwhelming amount of knowledge explodes exponentially let’s teach our kids obviously how to locate information but better yet, how to synthesize, utilize and make it relevant in their every day lives.. The old “School House” is long dead and gone….let’s leave the 1940’s and join the 21st Century..

  26. I was a professor/adult educator for 30 years (two different community colleges in Ontario Canada). Cheating (specifically handing in assignments or projects that were not the student’s original work) definitely became more prevalent in the latter ten or so years of my career (I took an early retirement in 2010 because the system had drained me). Both colleges had ‘academic honesty’ policies in place (college-wide) and stiff penalties (generally a zero on the assignment/exam the first time; removal from the course the second time; removal from the program/College the third time). Unfortunately, those of us who rigidly applied the penalties weren’t always supported by managers/administrators (most don’t like listening to student complaints so it wasn’t uncommon for them not to sign the paperwork and simply let the student off the hook with a warning; it’s no wonder many professors simply gave up following due process and began letting cases of cheating slide). What always surprised me was that when students were caught handing in plagiarized work (either from the web, print sources, or friends/classmates – both Colleges I worked at ‘encouraged’ the use of Turnitin.com but few of us felt it was a valuable tool), they would become quite indignant that the professor had figured it out; very few – in my experience – were contrite or humbled by the fact that they’d been caught engaging in unethical behaviour. Unfortunately, as noted by several commenters above, the idea of ‘borrowing’ someone else’s ideas, material, or property has become ‘de rigeur’ these days at all levels of business and government, and young people quickly learn that they can get away with pretty much anything they want so long as ‘no one’s watching’ (and parents who confront teachers/administrators for disciplining their kids for cheating and/or other academic infractions don’t do their kids any favours, either). I’ve taught technology-enabled and technology-free courses at all levels (first semester to post grad) and while technology adds another level to academic dishonesty, it is neither the cause nor the solution. Individuals who are lazy, uninspired (by the subject matter or the delivery method or just a bad attitude), or who have learned to take ‘the easy way out’ will always cheat. Teachers (at whatever academic level) can only do their best to try to teach that ‘honesty is the best policy’ and let the chips fall where they may.

    Thanks for a great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  27. koritt says:

    An important discussion to have. I had the misfortune of watching one teacher’s very diligent work at figuring out who was cheating be completely undone by an assistant principal who brushed the issue away with a reprimand of don’t do it again. Of course those students didn’t take that incident seriously and the cheating continued. Prevention does seem to be key. Prevention is education and why people shy away from teaching moral and ethical behavior these days is beyond me.

    Great post about an important topic.

  28. I once had a parent upset because I would not tell her how I caught her son cheating on an Advance Placement English assignment. She was not upset that he had cheated, but she was incensed by the fact that I so easily caught him. Her sentiments were along the lines of “How can he cheat again, if he doesn’t know what mistakes he made this time.”

  29. eyeonwales says:

    A point on turnitin, often it is the case that administrators in schools/universities are the ones banging the drum for its use, rather than ‘front-line’ teaching staff, most of whom are skilled enough to recognise cheating when its in front of them. The demand for turnitin is spun on grounds of fairness, and it is one that is deeply flawed (and ultimately more time consuming for all involved).

  30. As a student, I wholly agree with this article! It is a pity that I do know people who have committed the crimes that you outline wonderfully in your blog post, I agree that it is because of this ‘grade-culture’ that pervades the (British) education system. With so many students taking tests of course there is the need to find parity and a fair way to differentiate between students when selection for the best of them (for university) is needed, but it should be achieved in a manner whereby students shouldn’t think: we need to learn xyz and do xyz to get this grade, rather they should be learning without realising they are. They should be enjoying their field of study and be enriched by it before then applying that to the tests.

  31. dste says:

    I’ve had to submit papers to TurnItIn before for one of my college lit classes. I felt like it was a waste of time. Actually, my computer tends to get slow after I spend long hours on it, so, after typing up my paper, it took me about another hour to get it submitted through the site and then sent off to my teacher.

    What I didn’t realize, though, was that the school had to pay to use the site. How expensive is it to have a subscription? I ask because I like to know where my very expensive tuition is going.

    I agree with your comments about regurgitation. I hate that sort of teaching as well. I like actually learning, not spending hours proving that I read the textbook.

  32. Excellent post. Something I’ve found in my classroom is that students have a vastly different understanding of ‘cheating’ than I do. It’s worthwhile to spend some time presenting choices to students and asking them, “Is this cheating?” It’s very interesting to hear what they have to say.

  33. gamesfemme says:

    “Some educators cite technology as the reason for an increase in student cheating. I can’t agree. I don’t think there are more cheaters today. Cheaters are going to cheat, or at least try to cheat. A certain percentage of people are amoral, and technology doesn’t make that number go up or down. It might change the mode of cheating, but it doesn’t change the percentage.”

    Thank you for this. I know many educators who are quick to put the blame for plagiarism on technology. They’ve tossed around ideas such as forbidding students from using online sources in essays, which I don’t believe will actually stop students from cheating (they’ll use them anyway!).

    The thing that a lot of students tend to forget about using the internet to plagiarize is that technology also makes it a lot easier for teachers to catch plagiarism. It’s easy to type in a sentence on Google and see where it pops up (in articles, on Google books, etc). Contrary to popular belief, teachers are not dinosaurs! :) We can use the internet just as effectively as our students, and it’s another great tool to add to our teaching arsenal.

  34. Brilliant post!

    There’s a school in my city which practices teacher-free exams wherein students write exams without teachers’ presence in the classrooms. I guess we all have to build up this kind of ethical environment where a student learns to respect his teacher and vice versa. It is extremely important to help students understand the significance of, and inculcate, honesty and hard work in their character.

    Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed! :)

  35. Karen says:

    Eeekk!! Turnitim.com = Let me begin by not trusting you!
    How awful. So grateful for progressive education. Thanks for putting your grounded thoughts out there. You sound like a great teacher.

  36. Jnana Hodson says:

    What? You don’t have to join a fraternity anymore to have access to all those filing cabinets of previous test answers and research papers? This could be a bigger threat to higher education than you’ve acknowledged. Greek Row should be up in arms!
    Seriously, though, in the face of the temptations of a copy-and-paste world, one in which few college students enter a library, much less know how to navigate the stacks, the ultimate question is whether the student can do the work himself or herself. The goal is to develop individual skills and critical thinking.
    Determining this certainly ought to be manageable without the draconian, Big Brother measures you describe. Go for it!

  37. cricketmuse says:

    I have curbed cheating by having students start their papers in class. I stamp their rough draft and it must be turned in with their final. There are deducted points if the rough draft is not attached. If I suspect cheating I Google a line or two and can instantly find it the paper in question has been plagiarized. I give a zero for the assignment and contact the parents and the student. I only give grace if I see a remorseful attitude. I’d like to think there have been some life lessons handed out with the grades by doing this.

    We have considered using Turnitin.com due to a state-mandated senior research project that starts in fall. This gives me pause about doing so.

  38. Nahed Omer says:

    Cheating can happen in a lot of different ways. The worst of it is when copying someone else’s words or work and saying they’re yours .
    Here is a qoute that explains the real meaning of the word cheating.
    “The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.”

  39. poemattic says:

    Definitely food for thought.

  40. Jo Eberhardt says:

    I believe that cheating is as much a cultural problem as a straight disciplinary one. Our children are growing up in a society which tells them that success is measured in terms of grades, schools, and income. Poor grades = poor college = poor income and vice versa. So rather than teachers being able to do what they probably wish they could and focus on turning out young adults with a love of learning, they are expected to stick to beaurocratic system of education which fosters a belief in “Grades abover Morality” or, to pay it forward, “Money above Morality” — a notion fostered by so many of today’s role-models. I can completely understand why teens would choose to cheat in this environment, even though I find the idea morally reprehensible.

    I particularly like your comment about respect in the classroom. I remember my favourite teacher when I was in high school vividly. He was a maths teacher and was focused on every student learning in the way that suited them. He had some desks set in groups of 4 or 6, some in groups of 2 and some set individually, to cater for students who learned best in an interactive environment and those who preferred to work silently. And, unlike every other teacher in the school, he never asked to see that homework was done — every lesson he would go through the roll and ask if homework had been completed and mark a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Even those students who would like and cheat in other classes would answer honestly, because they were being treated with respect. The teacher laid out his expectations at the beginning of the year, and made it clear that any student who didn’t do their homework 3 times within a term would have a letter sent to their parents. I know of at least half a dozen occasions where this happened, even though at any time the students in question could have lied to avoid it. But no one ever considered lying to this teacher. And, year after year, his class got the best end of year results in the school. (Sadly, none of the other teachers could figure out why.)

    • taniamend says:

      Nice comment. I agree. As I observed my son, he likes teachers who gives changes but strict on the disciplines or rules to be implemented. My son is shy and most of the time doesnt like group works,he likes teacher who tries to know him that he’s introvert and want to work alone from time to time and not pushing him to be more outspoken and vocal, If he likes the teacher he excels in that subject. If the teacher knows to respect students just like what your teacher does students will learn the concept of respect more, and everything will follow after.

  41. kawthar78 says:

    I am a teacher of 15 years and I believe the student is not always the only person to be blamed for cheating. In some circumstances, the message is unclear to students or the lesson was not taught to the full 360 degree angle. I do not think that Turnitin.com is a solution to catch cheaters. We are saying to the students that we do not trust any one them.

  42. ambaroyle says:

    Reblogged this on ambaroyle and commented:
    I don’t understand why someone would cheat anyway, they’re more than likely going to get caught, especially with programmes such as turnitin now available, although I agree this can and does give off the wrong message to students.
    I, pay for my own fees, whilst working full-time, I wouldn’t risk all that hard work and hard-earned money for a “quick fix” and cheat. Even full-time students, eventually have to pay back the fees, so why would they cheat?
    It’s like my mum said to me, when I was 10 years old, preparing for and awaiting to sit the 11+ examination, which I didn’t want to do as I didn’t wish to go to the Grammar School – I didn’t think I was clever enough to do it, purely based on lack of discipline throughout all my education and never thinking I was good enough, when I asked for a tutor, and I wasn’t allowed one, one the basis that, “why get you a tutor to pass the exam, which then you would always continue to struggle, and would therefore continually need extra help/tutoring”.
    It’s right though, and the same sort of principle with cheating. A person who cheats on their exams and finishes with high grades, will continue to struggle throughout. I do law, I wouldn’t cheat my way through my course, get a 1st, have the ultimate job in one of the best firms but not actually understand any of it, and then not be able to perform my role competently. You would soon be found out. Why bother?
    As it turned out, my mum was right, I didn’t need a tutor, and I managed to pass the 11+ (even if it was only by two marks) and managed okay through the grammar school – I’m not saying I was the most intelligent and got good grades all the time, as I didn’t as I was one of the “naughty kids”, but when I applied myself I did well. I guess that’s a lesson I learnt early on in life, and will always follow it.

  43. I liked what you said about designing “learning experiences that cannot be accomplished through cheating.” Periodic reviews of student’s progress with feedback also is important, when students feel less connected to the teacher, they may be more likely to be dishonest. It is the teacher’s responsibility to circumvent this from happening.

  44. taniamend says:

    Reblogged this on simplycaptured9 and commented:
    As a parent try not to introduce cheating as an option to pass. Once the child enters highschool/college the crowd steps in “lets try this/let’s do this” unless there’s a teacher with the same attitude as the author, who mold students well. Author seems a great teacher…I know he. Great article!

  45. As a high school student, I poured myself into my studies. I earned every grade, whether it was an A or a C. It was unconscionable to me that I could be accused of cheating ~ by a teacher, no less. I was, on the basis that my teacher did not think I was smart enough to have scored so highly on a test. He announced his doubts in front of my entire class. I addressed the matter with my father as soon as he arrived home that evening. He had watched the hours I had spent learning the material. I never knew what transpired in the next day. I was called out into the hallway the following day by the said teacher, away from my fellow students. He wanted to apologize. I stated my appreciation, and asked him to apologize in front of the same people he had accused me initially. He refused, I declined. The events changed my life, literally. I vowed I would stand up for my children unless I knew they were lying or cheating. They had my trust until it was lost. Lost trust can be earned back. Most of all, no adult would bully my children. My dad taught me that day to have respect for myself, and defend the defenseless. I learned a lot from my teacher ~ just not what he intended to teach.

  46. Pingback: Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly) « The Reading Zone

  47. tesskitchen1 says:

    Thank you for your perspective. I have a sticky situation in that I am approaching the principal of my school about cheating rumors (today!!). I have heard that students are using their phones during quizzes and tests to either look up answers or to take down answers from photographs taken of the actual quiz or test. These test photos are coming from other students who either got them from siblings or students in higher grades who have copies of these tests/quizzes. I have no proof and this is just stuff I have “heard” but i have heard a lot of it and my son goes to the school and said, “Mom, you don’t get it, kids use their phones during class ALL THE TIME and it’s so easy to cheat during classroom quizzes!” Yes, I am the Mom who says my kid does not participate but he doesn’t. He was home schooled to 8th grade and this is only his third year in school. When i asked him why doesn’t he just cheat too, he said maybe he doesn’t see school in the same way other kids do. He feels like it is just another education choice and sees it as a place to “learn cool stuff”. He is not in love with school or certain teachers but he feels a little outside of it all. The subjects he excels in are the things that interest him. If he got an A every time he took a Latin quiz for example I would be waving my little red flag.
    Anyway, what do I say to this principal about the “rumors”. I want to tell him because this has upset and disenchanted me, but if he asks me specifics, I have nothing concrete – any advice out there? And THANKS!

    • It depends a lot on the principal. Hopefully, he will listen to your concerns, relay them to teachers, and brainstorm some ways to deal with this. Unfortunately, it sounds like cheating is a part of that school’s culture. Fair questions for the principal include, “What have they done about cheating in the past?” “What are the cheating policies?” “What should I tell my son about how this school views academic integrity?” I’m interested in the principal’s responses, but in fairness, he cannot take specific actions without specific proof. Again, it depends on his priorities. (Maybe refer him to this blog post and the comments thread at some point?). Good luck with all this, and thank you for advocating for your son.

      • tesskitchen1 says:

        Thank you so much for giving me a little more confidence.
        I will state what I have heard (how students are supposedly cheating) and then ask the questions you have suggested. I freeze in situations like this so I’m hoping to not come across as meek and not really worth the trouble. It is a private school and I’m sure this principal is a “politician’ of sorts who may have to Kowtow to certain parents – hoping that’s not the case!
        My simple solution would be to compare letting a student have access to a phone during a test akin to letting a student having the text book on their desk during a test making a prone-to-cheating-student more likely to cheat? Take away the phone (for the test only by everyone leaving their phones on the teachers desk and simply taking them back when they hand in their test/quiz) would take away temptation and access.
        Will let you know how it goes today and thank you again so much for your advice and support. I would be better off writing this as I never did well in Oral Exams – lol!

  48. angenette says:

    Guess who’s blog post just popped up when I did a search of “what to do when you suspect a student is cheating but can’t prove it”???? Yes, I am dealing with this right now. Unfortunately, this kid is a repeat offender over the years, too. I am having a hard time letting this one go, but I suppose I may have to.

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