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November 2008
Vol 5 No 11
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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.11 November 2008

Cover Story by Kioni Carter
A Reflection of Me:
Why My Students Disrespected Me


Kioni shares her experiences with the “bottom class" and reveals the trials and triumphs of inspiring them to become the "top class"!


Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
A School That Achieves Greatness

Columns
»Words—Are We Teaching the Right Ones?Cheryl Sigmon
»What, Me Worry?Sue Gruber
»20 Ideas for Teaching Citizenship to ChildrenLeah Davies
»On “The Coattails of Affinities”Todd R. Nelson
»People Do Better When They Feel GoodMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman

Articles
»$8 a Gallon Creates Jobs in Denmark
»Thoughts about Gratitude
»Labels Are For the Jelly Jar
»Cheating and the 'Net Generation
»November 2008 Writing Prompts
»The Economy, The Great Depression, Money Matters – Lessons & Resources
»Using Photography To Inspire Writing

Features
»A printable story, The Turkey and the Pumpkin
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for November 2008
»School Photographs for November 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: November 2008
»Video Bytes: Guided Reading FAQ; Tour of Solar System; Wikis; How We Elect and More
»Live on Teachers.Net: November 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers
»If you were given a magic wand...


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Alan Haskvitz

Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

Cheating and the 'Net Generation

As students become more tech-savvy, they become better equipped to implement more clever – and difficult to detect – methods of cheating. The author offers insight and ten methods teachers can use to level the playing field.
by Alan Haskvitz
www.reacheverychild.com/alan.html
Regular to the Gazette
November 1, 2008

Valerie Milliron and Kent Sandoe recently published an interesting article, “The Net Generation’s Cheating Challenge.” It is a must-read for all educators as it clearly shows that there is a growing disregard of right and wrong by students who have used technology to boost their test scores and enrich their future earnings, among other things.

This addiction to cheating is almost a game to some students who text message answers to questions, plagiarize, and even print cheat sheets in ultra small type and place magnifying glasses under their water bottles to be able to read them. Students can easily destroy attempts by teachers to achieve honest assessment, rendering invalid a measurement designed to determine what was learned.

Cooperative (group) learning may have proven of value in the classroom in preparing students for working together in life, but it has also equipped them for successful collaboration when cheating on tests. Along with peer pressure, the Net Generation’s ability to use electronic communications, teachers who are beleaguered by rapid changes in technology, and the cooperative spirit have helped make file swapping an accepted means of ragging against the educational machine, as alluded to by Donald McCabe. The cheating culture is powerful; those who stand by their values are overwhelmed by the rewards that are reaped by those who have gone over to the champs side, leaving the non-cheaters wondering whether they are the chumps.

It is not a big jump in logic to conclude that what is happening in government has also solidified cheating as a way of doing business. Everything from sexual misdeeds to lying about weapons of mass destruction is quickly swabbed over by the business-as-usual approach of citizens interested only in bottom lines. It can only be surmised that this attitude hasn’t escaped the Net Generation that is used to political, radio, religious and sports figures hiding the truth without sacrificing any financial consequences. Indeed, some are even rewarded for them.

Add to that the fact that the Net Generation has been exposed to illegal music and software copying, as well as game swapping, and they have lived to tell the tale. Stealing software from a store is perceived as a crime, but downloading a copy isn’t. No wonder the older generation has difficultly relating to this new form of ethics.

And, don’t forget that cheating has been well rewarded throughout history. Some of the most successful Americans have circumvented the law and, because their reward was wealth, they are honored with a place in the history textbooks. Out-running the law has given rise to NASCAR and the success of such movies as Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball, and countless others, as doing the right thing suffers in a winning at any cost atmosphere. Martha Stewart, Oliver North, even Rush Limbaugh have been caught doing the wrong thing only to end up financially secure with even more name recognition. Crime doesn’t pay is a good old saw, but for some these characters have made the challenge attractive.

Students exposed to a lifetime of these news stories may tend to believe that cheating is a victimless crime. They don’t mind that cheating on tests might give them a higher grade and open up a college acceptance even if it deprives the student who does not cheat from that opening. There is also the rationalization that “everyone is doing it” so I have to do it too in order to keep pace. It is logic reinforced by news articles about athletic steroid use, NASCAR cheating, politicians refusing to cooperate with investigations, referee tampering, and perhaps closer to home, income tax statements that have been fudged.

This lack of remorse is interesting in a country whose citizens consistently report that they are religious while a study by Jean Twenge and a book by David Callahan are cited by Milliron and Sandoe as revealing that “generational cohort” cheating is widespread, with percentages form 80 to 90 percent of college-aged student confessing to using electronic communications to cheat. And high schoolers, according to Milliron and Sandoe’s report, also have high cheating rates with over 60 percent cheating on tests and 90 percent on homework. Other research has suggested the reality that those who cheat in high school will probably cheat in the future.

The tech-savvy Net Generation is going to grow bolder if the problem is virtually ignored and there are good reasons for failure to enforce the rules. First, the time it takes to prove there was cheating. Second, the threat of parent law suits, and third, the negative aspects of exposing cheaters to the school. There is a fourth, overarching element that is not related to the others and that is the financial cost to pay for plagiarism software, cell blocking hardware, and even attorneys. Many school districts are paying good taxpayer money to pay for services that check for plagiarism… money that could be spent educating the straight arrow students rather than catching crooks.

Of course, there is also the question of what is cheating. Is copying a peer’s notes illegal if you have their permission? If you pay them a quarter for the notes would it be legal? If you text message answers to a test to another student, is that just an exercise of free speech? Thus the root of the matter is how easy it is to accept the fact that cheating is prevalent because it is expensive, and perhaps, unrewarding to stop.

Missed by the researchers is the fact that the majority of educators have never been taught how to deal with cheating. Shamefully, the importance of this subject has been shoved aside in the rush to prepare students for the ordeal of standardized testing and the quality assurance plan government leaders have inflicted on a nation more interested in numbers than creating honest citizens. What universities and school districts should be offering are classes and in-services on preventing cheating for all teachers as well as classes in logic and ethics.

Entering the Net Generation’s Bailiwick

I remember applying for a library reference position. I had worked my way through graduate school in this same capacity and was well qualified. During the interview the head librarian asked me where I would find information on a certain topic. I went into detail about several possible places where the data could be found depending on how the question to be answered was worded. I didn’t get the job. The librarian was looking for one specific answer to one specific question. In other words, she was interested in finding a resource that agreed with what she had in mind and not a variety of sources depending on the nature of the question. In a nutshell, that is the difference between the non-netters and the Net Generation. Knowing the answer is good, but knowing how to retrieve it is better. In other words, if someone asked that librarian who invented the airplane she would have no problem finding the answer. But what if they were after those who also claimed to have invented the airplane first? The Net Generation is interested in variety and more whys instead of whats. Right is right, but what if right is wrong? Cheating is wrong, but if it makes you happy and rich, isn’t it right?

Indeed, the best way to stop cheating is to restructure the nature of assessments so that electronic resources can be used in real time. In other words, the way the question is answered and defended is more important than the way the question is asked. For example, a question about why the Founding Fathers considered the Articles of Confederation inadequate could be turned into one asking the students to prove or disprove whether the merchant class and other professionals provoked the call for a new form of government so that it would protect their assets better. The Net Generation students could use any resources to provide an answer with the assessment based on how well the student backed up his or here conclusions with the research they found and how they validated that research.

Ten Steps for the Net-Fighters

Here are ten steps teachers can take to help curtail cheating outside of punishments, although admittedly, each also has weaknesses. Nevertheless, these might be a starting place for a teacher, school, or district.

  1. Don’t give the same test to every class and certainly not every year.
  2. Cell phones are turned off or not allowed in the classroom. This should be a school policy anyway because it infringes on the privacy of others. It would be simple to leave a cell phone on during an entire lecture and record it for later use. However, if a student asks a question and this is recorded without their permission it is an invasion of their privacy and the same goes for the teacher. Those videos on U-Tube are ready made legal cases if they show juveniles and there isn’t any permission slips signed. The inside of a classroom is not a public place.
  3. Don’t place too much emphasis on one test for a final grade. Smaller, more frequent tests can reveal the same knowledge acquisition, but can make cheating more difficult with tighter time limits on the tests.
  4. Assign seats for a limited time. Forcing students to move to the front of the room or close to aisles where students can be observed more closely is a deterrent.
  5. Don’t grade homework, but collect it and give credit. Base your frequent tests on this homework. In that way students who did their homework have an advantage in their depth of knowledge.
  6. If you assign essays, Goggle verbiage that seems suspect. However, a better way is simply to have the essays written in class.
  7. Use the Fry Reading Formula to check on the writing level of the student. An essay handed in by a fifth grader with a high school writing level needs to be checked. The Fry formula can be found at: http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/fry/fry.html
  8. Proctor tests by moving around the classroom. Monitoring must be rigorous and not follow a consistent pattern.
  9. If you teach the students how to write test questions and have them create some, you can use them for other classes. This helps teachers break away from the form and question types that the students are accustomed to and provides some new learning challenges for them. Any old tests that are circulating are just that, old.
  10. Develop rapport with the students and you will find that for a variety of reasons they will warn you about the cheating done by some students.

Cheating is addictive. Even with an essay test, easy material, and plenty of time, some students find that it is difficult to break themselves of the habit. These addicts are going to be meeting with others on or off-line to share questions. The only way for these students to learn about the consequences of their actions is to take the test over with the teacher and others who are suspect. If the scores of the two tests are different, further action is needed, such as special tests for those students.

Turn a negative to a positive

What I do is try to turn the concept of cheating into an advantage. By doing a variety of tests over several days, the students quickly isolate the most important elements that the material contains. They start sharing possible answers. I couldn’t ask for a more motivated student than one who thinks he or she is cheating by going over questions that have already been asked without knowing they aren’t going to be the same ones.

Sadly, with such programs as No Child Left Behind and its emphasis on testing there seems little relief in sight for teachers who don’t rely heavily on testing as a way to measure progress rather than projects or other creative endeavors. Ironically, No Child Left Behind with its constantly rising standards, has provoked some schools to - you guessed it - cheat. The saddest part of all of this is what Einstein said: The only source of knowledge is experience. These students are learning how to cheat and inculcating that into their culture and perhaps through osmoses, into society as a whole, or hole if you are using a spell checker.

Resources

Explaining Why Students Cheat
www.reacheverychild.com/feature/cheating.html

How to Improve Test Scores
www.reacheverychild.com/feature/assessment.html

How to Legally Improve Test Scores
www.reacheverychild.com/feature/assessment.html

Plagiarism Self-Test
www.reacheverychild.com/language/english/writing2.html

Downloadable essay sites
www.schoolsucks.com
www.cheathouse.com

Plagiarism-detection sites
Check for costs
www.turnitin.com/static/home.html
www.canexus.com/eve/index.shtml

Cheating among college and university students: A North American Perspective.
Donald McCabe
www.webcitation.org/5Z5orfuVD

Cheating Rampant on College Campuses. Katherine Poythress
www.webcitation.org/5Z5pnJNdd

Is Plagiarism a Forerunner of Other Deviance? Imagined Futures of Academically Dishonest Students.
Gwena Lovett-Hooper; Meera Komarraju; Rebecca Weston; Stephen J. Dollinger.
www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a787981863~db=all

How Do High School Students Justify Internet Plagiarism?
Dominic A. Sisti
www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a787981858~db=all

The Cheating Culture Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead David Callahan
www.curledup.com/cheatcul.htm



» More Gazette articles...




About Alan Haskvitz...

Alan Haskvitz teaches at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, Calif., and makes staff development presentations nationwide. In addition, he serves as an audio-visual evaluator and design consultant for his county department of education; a tutor to multi-cultural students in English and art; and an Internet consultant.

Haskvitz's career spans more than 20 years. He has taught every grade level and core subject, has been recognized repeatedly for innovative teaching and has received the following honors, among many:

  • USA Today All Star Teacher
  • 100 Most Influential Educators
  • Reader's Digest Hero in Education
  • Learning Magazine's Professional Best
  • National Middle Level Teacher of the Year
  • National Exemplary Teacher
  • Christa McAuliffe National Award
  • Robert Cherry International Award for Great Teachers
In addition, Haskvitz publishes articles on successful educational practices and speaks at conferences. He has served on seven national committees and boards.

Haskvitz maintains credentials and training in special and gifted education, history, administration, bilingual education, journalism, English, social studies, art, business, computers, museumology and Asian studies. He holds these credentials for Canada, New York and California. His experience also includes staff development, gifted curriculum design, administration, community relations and motivation. His background includes 10 years of university education.

As a teacher, Haskvitz's curriculum increased CAP/CLAS test scores from the 22nd percentile to the 94th percentile, the largest gain in California history. In addition, Haskvitz and his students work continuously to improve their school and community. His students' work is often selected for awards in competitions in several subject areas. For more details about Alan and his students' work, visit his page on the Educational Cyber Playground.

Haskvitz works tirelessly to improve and advance his profession, which is why he developed Reach Every Child. http://www.reacheverychild.com/


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