Thursday, June 7, 2007

Book on cheating: Paper crib notes are so old school

Cheating has probably been around as long as test results had an impact on a person's life. However, when a child was cheating, they knew they were cheating, knew it was wrong, and knew that they had better try not to get caught.

In an article posted at the Chicago Tribune yesterday, the cheating epidemic along with technological advances and other creative developments is discussed at some length. It's an interesting article that can hopefully highlight the need for better control systems to try and limit the amount of cheating that goes on in the schools.

What I found more interesting about the article is the following:

According to Donald McCabe, a researcher at Rutgers University in New Jersey who studies cheating, students today cheat even when they don't think they are doing so.

For example, surveys McCabe took from 2002 through this spring show that 40 percent of college students do not believe "cut and paste" plagiarism -- taking whole sections of different sites on the Internet and putting them together -- is "moderate or serious cheating." Rather, they consider it not cheating or trivial cheating.

Meanwhile, 47 percent of high school students do not think it is wrong to try to find out what is on a test from someone who has taken it, he said.

"I really think students are trying to convince themselves those things aren't wrong," he said.

This shows that these things are not being discussed with students. Evidently, the rules are not being effectively communicated to children as to just where the lines are drawn between right and wrong.

The whole purpose of a test, or writing a report, is to show that a student has a knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. Copying material from the Internet and pasting it into a report only shows that the student is capable of "finding" that info, not that they know it or understand it.

Parents need to ensure that their children are well aware of the rules and where the lines are drawn. A student who is caught plagiarizing or otherwise cheating, and is not even aware that what they are doing is wrong, is still susceptible to the consequences. We do our children an injustice when we don't teach them the difference between right and wrong.

Children are only fooling themselves if the try and convince themselves that something isn't wrong, but they know in their heart that it is. Children, ask yourselves this question: "would I be willing to go tell my parents or teachers that this is how I came to get this answer?". If the answer is "no", then you are probably cheating. Go to your parents or teachers before making the decision to behave in a manner that is even questionable or could be considered beneath reproach.

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