Academic Dishonesty (It Happens - What Do We Really Do?)
- First, here’s a good article: Dan Ariely on How and Why We Cheat. One of my favorite parts is point #6, where Ariely claims those from the pharmaceutical industry (which includes yours truly) are masters of the game. I don’t know about that, but a little context is humbling. As he says, “we all cheat.” And yeah, I suspect some of the social psychologists who trained us might have been private investigators on the side. All the better to get inside those cheating minds. And...
- There’s a lot of cheating going on in classrooms, thanks to the variety of ways it’s now possible, including, but not limited to, wearable smart phones and other sneaky tech. There are popular cheating how-to YouTube videos, and numerous sites where some of our own exams may be posted with answers. Of course, the answers may not be correct. Those old enough to recall the old Mission Impossible series (I always wanted to be the Barbara Bain character) will enjoy this little review of subversive tech tools.
- Many sources, including this one, show college student acceptance of cheating as a reality, particularly as a strategy to be successful, veers into the 80% range. In roundtable discussions in my own class, “lying as a supposed strategy to do bigger and better things” was cited by students as prevalent in our culture.
- Turn it In is not helpful when students contract with sources willing to develop original papers for them.
- The emergence of writing cottage industries in college towns is a problem. In one situation a couple of years ago, I followed a trail based on basic software knowledge followed by checks of publicly available records, resources and social sites. Professional writers are in the business of selling their words, and may not care who’s buying, or for what reason.
- Candid students may be very specific about cheating they observe or suspect. Hearsay reports, cautiously noted, can provide good information. They at least help us to be more alert, and add to the “case files.”
- Some students practice one another’s printing and signatures to claim attendance for absent friends. While easy to regulate in smaller classes, it becomes more difficult in crowded classrooms, especially if pairs or more of students sign up for more than one of your classes.
- Adjudicating specific cases may be a responsibility of the reporting faculty if they prefer it, according to SJA forms I found on the University’s website on academic integrity. Perhaps one of our legal colleagues can provide further clarity; I have yet to go through all the advice on this site myself. Submitting a form may require a little faculty time and consideration, but each offers the educator more leeway than I would have thought, had I not had a look at them. Some cheating occurences in certain situations could lend themselves to coaching, and maybe provide opportunities for real-world lessons. Any of these forms may help in terms of the dreaded “administrative escalation of grievances.” Formal reporting also enables patterns of behavior to be detected. Educators say they are concerned about cheating, which they know happens, but reporting numbers don't add up. If this local news report televised in November 2017 is truly "Action News we can count on," there were twenty-three reports of cheating for the entire Chico State campus last year. This is nowhere near the anecdotal frequency with which cheating is said to occur. Where is the documentation? The forms are simple, enabling us to approach specific situations with control over the outcome. Handing off the problem to anyone else, or a committee, isn't automatic unless there's a clear reason. If a student fails as a result of a course policy about which they've been informed, a one-page filed document is still helpful in the event of future occurences. Before failing a student, say, an "A" student weeks prior to graduating, such a file (or lack of one) could be helpful in determining just consequences.
- Many students belong to Greek organizations that uphold academic honesty and performance standards. Leaders within those groups can provide helpful information to you, and you to them. There’s nothing like peer-to-peer education and reinforcement of standards to assist you as an educator.
I plan on having a far more detailed top-of-the-semester review of academic honesty with my students when Fall begins.
P.S. To those of you at the COB who previously filed reports under University guidelines, Thank you. You never know how helpful these are, until you need them.
Conversation With Kristin Minetti, Department of Finance and Marketing