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Cheating crisis a sad sign of times - Daily Inter Lake: Columns

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Cheating crisis a sad sign of times

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Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2012 8:40 am | Updated: 12:30 pm, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

 As another school year begins, I was interested to learn that scores of teachers across the country are now forced to use what essentially amounts to digital spy programs to catch students who are cheating.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune said students are going to great lengths to get the answers to tests and have gotten pretty sophisticated in their cheating.

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          Welcome to the discussion.

          7 comments:

          • radioflyer posted at 1:30 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

            radioflyer Posts: 15

            10-03-2012
            Relax help is on the Way. Very shortly grades as we once knew it are to be eliminated in favor of a more equitable system. Pass or Fail without measurement as to the effort any student put in on the subject. If this comes to pass we have hit rock bottom. Also the free form classroom for desk clusters (4 Desks) and adjacent desk groupings have replaced the old fashioned rows of desks. Group learning is desired instead of individual effort to blend the strongest with the lesser achievers. Socialization has replaced achievement as a measure of success. More teachers, and more money, won’t solve the basic problems faced in education Take some time and visit your child’s classroom. The experience could be very educational. If parents do not take an interest in their child’s education, they should not upset with the results.

             
          • radioflyer posted at 1:29 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

            radioflyer Posts: 15

            Relax help is on the Way. Very shortly grades as we once knew it are to be eliminated in favor of a more equitable system. Pass or Fail without measurement as to the effort any student put in on the subject. If this comes to pass we have hit rock bottom. Also the free form classroom for desk clusters (4 Desks) and adjacent desk groupings have replaced the old fashioned rows of desks. Group learning is desired instead of individual effort to blend the strongest with the lesser achievers. Socialization has replaced achievement as a measure of success. More teachers, and more money, won’t solve the basic problems faced in education Take some time and visit your child’s classroom. The experience could be very educational. If parents do not take an interest in their child’s education, they should not upset with the results.

             
          • radioflyer posted at 1:28 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

            radioflyer Posts: 15

            Relax help is on the Way. Very shortly grades as we once knew it are to be eliminated in favor of a more equitable system. Pass or Fail without measurement as to the effort any student put in on the subject. If this comes to pass we have hit rock bottom. Also the free form classroom for desk clusters (4 Desks) and adjacent desk groupings have replaced the old fashioned rows of desks. Group learning is desired instead of individual effort to blend the strongest with the lesser achievers. Socialization has replaced achievement as a measure of success. More teachers, and more money, won’t solve the basic problems faced in education Take some time and visit your child’s classroom. The experience could be very educational. If parents do not take an interest in their child’s education, they should not upset with the results.

             
          • radioflyer posted at 1:28 am on Thu, Oct 4, 2012.

            radioflyer Posts: 15

            Relax help is on the Way. Very shortly grades as we once knew it are to be eliminated in favor of a more equitable system. Pass or Fail without measurement as to the effort any student put in on the subject. If this comes to pass we have hit rock bottom. Also the free form classroom for desk clusters (4 Desks) and adjacent desk groupings have replaced the old fashioned rows of desks. Group learning is desired instead of individual effort to blend the strongest with the lesser achievers. Socialization has replaced achievement as a measure of success. More teachers, and more money, won’t solve the basic problems faced in education Take some time and visit your child’s classroom. The experience could be very educational. If parents do not take an interest in their child’s education, they should not upset with the results.

             
          • Tox posted at 6:06 am on Sat, Sep 1, 2012.

            Tox Posts: 275

            Pequot, I'm happy to read you had the opportunity to spend so much time in Germany and, from what I gather, that it has greatly enriched your life.

            Pequot wrote: “Wouldn't the "bildungsluecke" factor be rather easily discovered if each exemplary on paper student would be required to face an oral exam panel ? Carefully crafted questions may not catch cheaters but the questions would surely expose a critical gap in a student's education. Perhaps this gap could be quantified in some way and made a part of his or her high school scholastic record.”

            Oral exams are always preferable to find out how good (or bad) a student really is. You usually already know within the first 15 minutes of an exam what kind of a student you are dealing with. You can test the breadth and depth of their knowledge and tease out the extent of their critical thinking skills. You can see which students are just going through the motions to pass an exam and which ones have truly assimilated the material and know what they’re talking about, and with whom you can go on a stimulating, intellectual “walk” so that both of you come out of the exam with the feeling of having experienced a memorable and enjoyable meeting of minds. Furthermore, as an examiner you can also help a student along who is nervous or thinks he/she knows less than they actually do and “save” them from failing. You can ascertain the Bildungslücken quite precisely, with no possibility of cheating.

            That being said, oral exams are very time and energy consuming and it is simply impossible to have oral exams for many courses and classes, especially if they are large. And, of course, they can never really be standardized across classes, much less across schools. Therefore, if you really do want to find out where students stand on a particular subject (and not just provide impetus to learn what they are supposed to), then oral exams are certainly superior, but in a high school or undergraduate setting their usefulness is quite limited.

            As for quantifying students’ educational gaps and making it a part of the high school scholastic record, well, that would be like certifying the holes in a Swiss cheese. To say our high school graduates are riddled with Bildungslücken is actually quite an understatement, to say the least.

            I’ve had to deal with the crops of high school graduates from many countries, and in terms broad general knowledge ours are among the worst, especially when compared to European and Far Eastern countries. They graduate being fluent in at least one, often two foreign languages including a real appreciation of the respective cultures; - with a sound knowledge of world history and today’s goings-on in the world; - and, most importantly, a firm grasp of basic science and comprehension of how nature actually works. In general terms that cannot be said of ours. But ours sure do know the stats and players of their favorite sports teams.

             
          • Pequot posted at 7:48 am on Wed, Aug 29, 2012.

            Pequot Posts: 525

            Tox, having lived in Germany for nearly 12 years I'm a great admirer of the German system. Your comments are a good summation of the problem.

            Wouldn't the "bildungsluecke" factor be rather easily discovered if each exemplary on paper student would be required to face an oral exam panel ? Carefully crafted questions may not catch cheaters but the questions would surely expose a critical gap in a student's education. Perhaps this gap could be quantified in some way and made a part of his or her high school scholastic record.

            Your thoughts would be appreciated.

             
          • Tox posted at 12:17 pm on Mon, Aug 27, 2012.

            Tox Posts: 275

            Lynette wrote:
            “I wish our education system could find a universal way to make the process of learning the focus rather than the almighty A.”
            “Maybe it’s as simple as decreasing the pressure to get high grades. If elite universities could measure students on life experience and integrity rather than their 4.0 grade-point average, wouldn’t we be better off in the long run?”

            From my perspective the rampant cheating phenomenon, is only partially a problem of/by our educational system nor can the problem really be solved by it. Moreover, this is mainly another symptom of a much larger cultural problem, a question of inherent commonly held values, which few Americans seem to be truly aware of, and even fewer (from all walks of life) are earnestly willing to do something about.

            I’ve been involved in the curricula and institutions of higher education around the world for over 30 years, including running a program for 14 years for students from developing countries to complete their MSc theses in my shop. I can hardly imagine any of these students having cheated, even though the competition to get such educational opportunities could hardly be fiercer for them (in China e.g. just a few individuals among thousands).

            There are many reasons for this, the combination of which will differ somewhat in emphasis from culture to culture but some of the main ones are: Esteeming education and knowledge as one of society’s highest values in and of itself (for its own sake) and NOT just as a means to an end (getting a good job); a general reverence, appreciation and highest esteem of society’s most knowledgeable members; a personal sense of honor whereby cheating hurts one’s own sense of fairness and integrity.

            These values, this kind of an attitude towards education and knowledge, can hardly be conveyed by an educational system in the context of an upbringing or of a society, i.e. a cultural environment that doesn’t live and breathe theses values exemplarily in everyday life. That’s the crux of the problem.

            I come from a German background where throughout society knowledge is highly valued. The “Herr Professors” are still the most highly esteemed members of society. Not the rich and most certainly not famous “celebrities”. And this holds true not just for the college educated or those aspiring to college degrees. The German speaking countries also have an apprenticeship system, whereby you aspire to become a “master” of any craft you seek to pursue.

            The German speaking realm even has a concept which exemplifies this attitude par excellence: die Bildungslücke (roughly a gap in one’s education). It is when you come across a lack in some one’s knowledge who should know better, be it common knowledge, but also in a professional context. For Germans to be caught with a Bildungslücke is quite embarrassing and no one ever wants to be caught with one.

            In our country on the other hand, there is a vast vein of anti-intellectualism running through our culture, and the educated can be faced with mistrust, scorn, disdain and even contempt for nothing more than being knowledgeable. Heck, just being a member of academia is adequate reason for suspicion by broad swaths of society. And in our schools or among groups of our children those with strong academic interests are ridiculed as nerds, who are somewhat lesser human beings than the rest of “us”. (Until recently the German language didn’t even have its own concept/word for nerd so they adopted ours. Great cultural export, isn’t it?)

            So, more than anything it is this lack of esteem and cherishment of education in our cultural context that needs fixing. Be this in our own homes and families, in our working environments, in our interactions with society at large, in our media and “pop culture”, and, yes, also in our schools and institutions of higher learning.

             
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