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Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm just helping: a look at electronic cheating by students

Higher Ed Morning ran an article this week about the Top 5 Ways Students Cheat Electronically, interestingly, all involve the cell phone (surprise!)

They quote a survey by Common Sense Media that states:

"35% of teens use their cell phones to cheat by:
  • 26% store info on their phone and look at it while taking a test
  • 25% send text messages to friends, asking for answers
  • 17% take pictures of a test – and then send it to their friends
  • 20% use their phones to search for answers on the Internet
  • 48% warn friends about a pop quiz with a phone call or text message"
 OK, to me this brings up a couple of points:
1) Why should the same test be given to multiple classes?  You can have an essay for one class and another type for another.  yes, it is more work on the teacher, but just a couple of times of doing this will confuse them and make them realize they are wasting their time.  The top use of the cell phone is in "warning friends" about a pop quiz.
2) Same with pop tests!
3) Cell phones (if used in class) should just go in a test box while testing if they have them on their person and of course -- NO ONE SHOULD GO TO THE BATHROOM DURING A TEST - if you don't have that one done, then you have a problem.

If they problem is cheating during a test, then make sure that they don't have their cell phone any where near DURING A TEST.  Mix things up.

And of course,

4) Get out this article and discuss it.  Sometimes just discussing HOW this is cheating will discourage your better students. However, if they really want to cheat they will find a way.

I remember a guy in my class who had a lot of them - he wrote 100 vocab words on the bottom of his shoe - he also pasted a mini answer sheet outside the teacher's window that he read every time he sharpened his pencil.  The tiny piece of paper is still a popular trick as well.

Kids will try but the best counter for cheating is to watch the students. I know it is tempting to sit at your desk and work and catch up on grading - however, testing is a time you have to do your job and watch the kids take the test -- a vigilant teacher can prevent a lot of this from happening.  Cheating has been around as long as schools have been around.  Just remember to look at this with a level head and remember how valuable those cell phones can be in the classroom if used well.
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