I Blame the Teacher (Column Draft)

I was enjoying my not-so-healthy healthy lunch the other day—Baked Lays potato chips and a Diet Coke—when I overheard a conversation between two male students as they walked down the hall.

“The questions I got wrong were the ones I copied and pasted the answers to.”
“Yeah, I copied and pasted and I got them wrong too!”

I can only assume they were discussing a previous assignment or test on which they scored poorly because of their lack of judgement. I don’t know what class this was for or who the guys were but I give props to that professor. Whether he or she recognized it as cheating or the answers were just plain wrong, this teacher gets two thumbs up from me.

Every student that merely glances through a syllabus at the beginning of a semester at UNK (and most other schools) will see the “Academic Dishonesty” section located probably toward the back of the syllabus. Academic Dishonesty is just a fancy word for cheating which, I’d venture to say, all students are acquainted with. If they haven’t cheated, they know someone who has and have looked the other way. A lot of teachers are pretty much doing the same thing. I won’t say all teachers because that’s not fair. Some do a great job, like the aforementioned copy-and-paste catcher. Then there are those that say they are trying to prevent cheating but are really just turning their head in the opposite direction. Here is where the blame lies.

I know, I know. It’s not just the teachers fault. Shouldn’t some blame lie with the student? Obviously, yes, but that’s like blaming a 6-year-old for putting your cell phone in the fish tank—he knew what he was doing was wrong but he did it anyway. Nothing will change if it’s left up to students to stop themselves from cheating. A 2002 CNN article reported that about 75 percent of high schoolers cheat, and you can pretty much bet on that transferring onto college.

We all know teaching isn’t easy and when you’re faced with a bunch of kids that are probably thinking about cheating, it’s important to lay down some ground rules. These tips can save teachers from a few cheating catastrophes—and possibly a few headaches.

Walk around the room while students are testing. Test days may seem like opportunities to get grading done but when teachers are concentrating on the homework papers on their desks, students know they aren’t concentrating on them. Teachers should get up and take a stroll around the room. You don’t need to stop behind a student’s desk and make them nervous. That’s just rude.

When a student is caught cheating, don’t make it a secret.Teachers have to make sure the other students know that they don’t take this stuff lightly. If caught during a test, rip the test in half–the more dramatic, the better. Nobody wants to be embarrassed like that.

Be suspicious. Too many students get away with cheating because a teacher may not want to accuse them of anything. An “accidentally” open binder sitting in plain sight is there for a reason. Walk over to the binder and close it. Remove extra papers from a desk. The student will know why you did it and if it turns out they weren’t cheating, then at least the you’re being cautious.

So there you go. Follow these three simple rules and you’ll have academically honest students in no time! Then again, maybe not, but perhaps they will learn to steer clear of cheating. It’s like I always say, “I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating.” OK, full disclosure: I stole that from Sophocles.

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About sambates

UNK student, Mormon, Vegetarian View all posts by sambates

2 responses to “I Blame the Teacher (Column Draft)

  • Ralph Hanson

    Interesting. I used to have to deal a lot with cheating when I taught a large lecture class. By and large the people who cheated did poorly because people who do well don’t tend to encourage people to cheat off them.

  • dodgees

    Another relatively simple step teachers could take is to make more complex tests. By giving essay tests or multiple versions of multiple choice tests teachers could make cheating a lot more difficult.

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