Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For Educators: Ways to Curtail Student Cheating

This is the concluding blog in this series on student cheating and is intended for the educators working with students in our community.

*Create an honor code with student input so they are invested in it.

*Make it clear to students that cheating is unacceptable, and have them sign a document that says they have not cheated.

*Discuss academic ethics early and often.

*As a faculty, agree on the penalties and the process that will be used to implement them.

*Involve parents in the discussion at the outset of the policy formation.

*Make clear what the penalties for cheating will be, and then, implement the consequences upon all violations.

*Seriously punish cheaters according the academic integrity policy.

*Use websites in which teachers can upload student papers to check for plagiarism.

*Give original and unique assignments that cannot be plagiarized, obtained from a website, or borrowed from a student doing the exact work.

*Assign individualized assignments in order to help curtail inappropriate sharing of students’ work.

*Reinforce quality performance by showcasing student work and conducting conferences with students about their assignments so that teachers can ascertain how familiar a student is with the concepts presented in the assignment or on the test.

*Require that students show all work, including initial references, notes, drafts and subsequent revisions.

*Make sure that they understand that a completed assignment contains all of these elements of the task, and give credit only for presenting only a final product.

*Use essays that test students thinking and communication as well as their mastery of information.

*If students suffer from very poor writing skills, allow them to dictate their work if it is being assessed primarily for content mastery.

*Create multiple versions of tests to make purloined answer keys useless.

*Do not give the same test over and over again.

*Separate students during testing so they cannot view each other’s papers.
*Develop multiple modes of assessment so student’s grades are not determined primarily on tests.

*Ban electronic devices in testing rooms.

*Do not allow students to bring PDAs and cell phones into the test room.

*Despite the lack of concrete statistics on the prevalence of MP3 cheating, institute a blanket ban on these devices being present in the classroom.

*Combat plagiarism by using a scanning service such as TurnItIn. com. Students are instructed to turn each paper in to the service, which uses a computer program to scan it for instances of plagiarism by comparing it against all published materials and previously submitted papers in the company's database. Any phrases in common are highlighted for the teacher to see. According to the company, significant levels of plagiarism appear in 30 percent of papers submitted.

*And finally, teach students solid study skill strategies to create in them greater independence and self-reliance that take away some motivations to cheat. Good study skills are the key to academic success!