Cheaters

July 18, 2011

It’s an old story for the teaching professors in the audience, I realize. But this story made me profoundly sad. I mean WTF? I never, ever thought seriously about cheating on class work in my rather lengthy schooling career. Not to get a desired grade, not to make up for laziness or excessive weekend behavior, not for any reason.

Well, I suppose we know where the scientific data fakers come from. This population of undergrads which thinks cheating is a-ok.

Go read that bit and tell me it doesn’t make you sad….

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  1. Of course these greedy fucken MBA pigges are all a bunch of fucken cheaters! They read the newspapers just like everyone else and they see that all of the sicke-fucke greedy motherfuckers that destroyed the entire global economy with their lying, cheating, and stealing didn’t pay any negative price whatsoever, and now control an even greater percentage of all the wealth in the world.

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  2. When I taught undergrad, I never had an issue with science majors cheating but business school kids taking a science class cheated like a motherfucker! Different mindset I guess?

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  3. Cashmoney Says:

    Yeah, I guess it could be a contextual thing related to business students…must put those business ethics profs in an interesting place though.

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  4. Joseph Says:

    The worst part is the incentives. Having just dealt with such issues here, I can tell you that the reward structure (of student evalautions -> performance) does not help matters any.

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  5. Andrea Says:

    I agree that human language is selective, precise and says it all:

    Business: the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce

    Science: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment

    A strong commonality is PROFIT and, an even stronger, distintion is the BENEFICIARY o beneficiaries of such an activity (es). And it is the latter (beneficiary vs beneficiaries) that sets apart the mindsets and behavior of different players in those two fields of activity.

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  6. Pinko Punko Says:

    I think peer grading only works if the class is large enough to prevent them forming essentially a single clique.

    I wouldn’t accept that person’s take on not busting cheaters. I’d try to get a rep for busting cheaters, and if the U. wants to deny me tenure based on my student reviews, well that would seriously suck.

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  7. alethea Says:

    I find it surprising that so many commenters think that science students don’t cheat. I don’t know about graduate students, but as a tutor and TA of undergrads I saw a lot of cheating/ attempted cheating. I saw copied assignments, homework copied from previous years’ work, student trying to smuggle in equation cheat-sheets, people trying to peer at other students exams during tests and lots and lots of copy-paste mosaics from major internet sites.

    I know the profs I worked for tried to design assignments that weren’t amenable to cheating, but as the linked article points out, it’s just not possible for every assignment. And as with this prof, for freshmen they didn’t usually report the copy-pasters, just gave them stern lectures and low grades. I didn’t really sympathize with that, as I have no idea how you can get to college while still thinking it’s ok to copy and paste without citing!

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  8. Beaker Says:

    When plagiarism issues have arisen at our university, I have been surprised by how often the accused initially adopts the “I didn’t think it was a big deal” defense. They all took a class in ethics, but apparently they didn’t get it.

    Another defense I’ve heard is that the passages they lifted were “the truth,” so that makes stealing them OK. This second line of defense is more common from students raised in developing countries. Both a China-born student and an India-born student have told me that they never heard of such strict rules against plagiarism until they came to the USA. They claim that lifting passages from the writing of other people is not punished in their home countries, and it is assumed that “everybody does it”.

    To put a stop to this, the rules against stealing should be stated clearly in one concise paragraph, which the student must sign at matriculation. The statement should emphasize that if you are caught, you will not be given a second chance. Along with this, the students should be shown the effectiveness of the latest anti-plagiarism software.

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  9. idlemind Says:

    Amusing (I’m well past being appalled) that a number of the commenters on the linked article are plagiarizing other commenters…

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  10. Alex Says:

    I just had an original thought: The reward structure (of student evalautions -> performance) does not help matters any.

    OK, seriously, the good professor Ipeirotis’s solutions at the end sound nice, but I fear that he’ll be dismayed to find students still plagiarizing on those assignments. They could still copy content from sources without attribution and try to present it as original analysis.

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  11. Ria Says:

    I second alethea’s comment. I’ve detected quite a bit of cheating among science undergraduates. It was heaviest in first year courses (as one might expect). It’s bad enough when students do it. I was shocked to discover a TA cheating to improve the grades of her section in a course that I taught. Students were expected to do weekly assignments (together or separate, it didn’t matter…we encouraged them to work together), they were then to turn in the assignment at the beginning of the TA session, and the TA was to answer questions about the homework/theory afterwards. This TA deliberately told her students the answers to the questions prior to collecting the work and gave them at least 5 minutes after sharing the answers for them to change the answers on their homework. This may not sound horrible, but it sure skewed the normalization for the grades for the course (these assignments were ~40% of the class grade and there were 4 study sections).

    It’s unconscionable for students to cheat. They know it’s wrong, and giving them the benefit of the doubt on that issue is foolish and definitely NOT to the benefit of the student in the long run. The kindest thing for teachers to do is, as early as possible (preferably in elementary school!), instill in students such a strong reaction (through fear of being caught, personal interest properly understood, or actual virtue) against cheating that it simply doesn’t occur to them to do so later in life. This requires harsh penalties from ALL teachers/professors, as well as a commitment from teachers/professors to refuse to turn a blind eye to cheating. In order to encourage teachers/professors to do this, however, the administration would have to adjust the effect of teaching evaluations on direct compensation/tenure. Any evaluation by a cheater should simply be thrown away. They’ve already shown themselves to be untrustworthy.

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  12. gerty-z Says:

    When I was a graduate student TA the undergrads were the WORST CHEATERS EVER. It was fucking ridiculous. I was really taken off guard, as it had never occured to me that I would cheat on an exam. But DAMN. If only they had spent half as much time studying as they did devising new cheating strategies. Out of fucking control. Now I am going to start teaching soon and I already don’t trust the folks sitting in the chairs. Freakin awesome

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  13. Melissa's Bench Says:

    The original piece makes me ill, but not because of the cheaters (though this is a particularly egregious set of examples, we all know this stuff is common). It is the misguided self-justification of the author that pisses me off.

    The original piece displays an unfortunate reliance on repeat assignments year after year. Kudos to the non-traditional assignments like competitions and public projects, but still the best way to circumvent cheating is to DESIGN NEW MATERIAL. “Suggestions to change completely the assignments from year to year are appealing on the first sight but they cause others types of problems.” The only problem described is oh-so-noble: I might give a bad assignment and then students’ time would be wasted! To which I say: be honest with them and they will excuse the occasional crappy assignment. My students have always given me props for trying something new even when it does not work out, because they can see I’ve put thought into it and they understand what the point of the exercise was supposed to be.

    I suspect the true problems that make assignment redesign seem less appealing are complacency and/or laziness. It takes time and energy to redesign assignments, and the old ones are just so awesome how could I replace them? I agree that one out of every three or four may completely flop, but it is the job of a good teacher to innovate constantly. There is a false dichotomy presented here between “chasing cheaters” but getting low evals, or just turning a blind eye. Take the time spent on setting traps, dealing with cheaters, and complaining about poor evals and use it to design some new coursework. If the only thing that might distinguish last year’s assignment from this year’s is a change of date or font, then, as the kids say, you’re doing it wrong.

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  14. neuromusic Says:

    The post got taken down…

    Here is the Google Cache:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:gB36-9SVgOoJ:behind-the-enemy-lines.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

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  15. 外遇 Says:

    and merges it to the study and the work. Three year study, I mainly studied foreign trade Shan Zheng to study,

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