Although students today still use the old, traditional ways of cheating, such as so-called “cheat sheets” or writing answers on the soles of shoes, technology has enabled students to take cheating and plagiarism to a higher level. Vigilant teachers should be aware of how technologies can be used to serve the wrong purposes.
Plagiarism and On-Line Preventive Programs
Many high schools and colleges use an on-line preventive program, such as Turn-It-In, to identify essays and papers that have been plagiarized. In most cases, students “cut and paste” internet articles into their research papers without any proper documentation or citation. Preventive programs catch this.
Turn-It-In and similar programs are very efficient, but only if the teacher uses the site to its full capacity. This means requiring that all students submit their papers. But even if this is done, there is no guarantee against plagiarism.
Students that plagiarize usually know what they are doing. In many cases, students will write a “dummy” paper and submit this work onto the internet program but then turn in a totally different paper for grading. It is this paper that will be graded. Teachers using an on-line program should compare what was submitted on-line with all hard copy submissions.
There are a lot of different surveys and articles on this topic. Also it can be a great debate topics for high school, where students will talk about this problem.
Teachers suspecting plagiarism from on-line submissions should immediately color print the paper. Students that sense they have been caught can re-submit the same paper, throwing off the entire color-code process that identifies what parts of the paper are verbatim quotes.
Texting and Test Taking Enable Student Cheating
Today’s students are very savvy when it comes to clandestine texting. Many teachers that test using bubble sheets run the risk of massive cheating. Students keep their devices in pockets and text as they answer questions, giving each other answers and disclosing questions to those students taking the test at a later time.
Avoiding This Scenario Is Actually Very Simple:
- Teachers must actively proctor all tests and quizzes
- Require all cell phones and similar devices placed on the corner of the desk
- Not permitting students to leave the classroom with their cells
- Placing all book bags and personals behind the desk
- Having students sit at different desks from where they normally sit
The Old Fashioned Methods of Cheating on Tests are Still Used by Students
Teachers should not allow themselves to be put into a “my word against his word” situation. This occurs when student’s leave their open notebooks on the side of the desk during a test. It is virtually impossible to prove that the student cheated by looking down at notes.
In one case, the student claimed the notebook was opened to Spanish homework – not the subject being tested. But nobody showed the page to the Spanish teacher who would have seen immediately that the student had indeed prepared a cheat-sheet, but in Spanish!
Teachers frequently fall victim to their own laxities. All students know exactly what they can and cannot get away with, whether this means copying another student’s homework or whispering answers during a test. Non-focused teachers will spend the rest of the school year fighting a losing battle.
Rationalizing Cheating and Plagiarism by Students and Parents
Cheating and plagiarism violates an ethic that is becoming increasingly blurred. Even though students may ascribe to certain values in other areas of their lives, the urge to achieve the highest possible grades and GPA’s is rationalized by students in many ways. This explains why teachers are often shocked when their top students, highly esteemed in so many areas, are caught.
The obvious solution is to find ways to integrate values and ethics into the realm of grade competition. Secondary solutions involve a higher degree of teacher vigilance as well as both rehabilitative and punitive responses. But the courage to confront cheating and plagiarism begins with the acceptance of widespread inappropriate student assessment behaviors caused by the need to win at any cost.