Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Students Cheat. How Much Does It Matter?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Students Cheat. How Much Does It Matter?:

Cheating has always aroused strong and often opposing reactions among professors. But as pandemic teaching stretches into its eighth month, and many professors continue adapting to online teaching, they’re more divided than ever.

On one side are professors who consider themselves pedagogically progressive. They’ve adopted the perspective that many prominent teaching experts have been encouraging: Trust your students, and find creative ways to assess their learning. Yes, some students will cheat. That’s unavoidable, and policing them shouldn’t be the North Star of anyone’s teaching. Especially not during a crisis that has put students under tremendous pressure.

To professors on the other side, who tend to be more traditional, that advice falls flat. In some corners of a college, especially large-enrollment courses in quantitative disciplines with highly structured, sequential curricula, exams are seen as essential to learning. Cheating undermines their value. And no one seems to have figured out how to stop it.

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


Yes – some students will cheat (or rob banks, beat spouses, or break rules.) Particularly, when under pressure. Does this mean that when the pandemic is over, we punish cheating more harshly? Or is punishing someone for breaking the rules too old school?

In fact, the real problem is having rules that bar cheating. If we had no rules, no one would break the rules. The West Point Honor Code states “"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." It has been violated – perhaps the rule breakers were under pressure, like worrying about being sent to Vietnam. Perhaps the disgusting actions at My Lai should have been understood rather than punished.

I am not equating the moral evil of the above acts to pathetic law school cheating but if you don’t punish rule breaking, why have rules. To identify those who need psychological counseling to act civilized?

Posted by: aircav65 | Nov 4, 2020 12:12:14 PM

Apparently not a lot. You can be a convicted plagiarist and still become VP of the USA. Perhaps even President of the USA -- we will find out tonight.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 3, 2020 2:41:55 PM

Yes, students have always cheated on exams, but smart watches have made it much easier to cheat, and harder to detect, so professors may want to consider banning all watches from exam rooms - since proctors probably cannot be relied upon to distinguish which watches to watch.

See, e.g.:

WATCH VIDEO - Cheat on Tests with Apple Watch

Students are still using tech to cheat on exams, but things are getting more advanced

Ban all watches from school exams, cheating inquiry recommends
Commission says invigilators cannot tell which devices are connected to internet

Smartwatches linked to spike in college exam cheating
Academics say use of electronic devices is difficult to police in crowded exam halls

Posted by: LawProf John Banzhaf | Nov 3, 2020 12:49:40 PM