Blatant Cheating...

Discussion in 'High School' started by my58vw, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. my58vw

    my58vw Rookie

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    Mar 2, 2009

    Hello all,

    I am a high school chemistry teacher and I have a very interesting situation.

    I always write out my key before the test (especially topics like stoichiometry, or anything calculation based) because I catch major test errors that way (which can creep into any test). I always start to grade tests once all the students are done.

    A few days ago during my second of three classes the key disappeared from my desk during passing period. I found the key stuffed under a chair later in the period. Upon grading the tests the first period is clean, no cheating. Period two I have 5 tests that are way to close to the key to be legit (and all papers were scored 95+ out of 100. One paper was exactly like the key, the other four were exactly the same with a few missed points). We are talking word by word from the key including pronunciation.

    In my third class I have 11 out of 36 papers that are 75 - 80% exactly like they key, some exactly a copy of the key. A few tried to be sneaky and leave off half of the answer, some did not get the answer completely, some copied but did not get all the words so the answers do not make since.

    I have already made 10 parent phone calls and I am making all these students retake an alternate form of the test. Here is the question: when the students take the new test and do as I predict (not perfect) do I give them a zero, or give them the new score?

    The interesting thing is that the students were all in the same area (4 person tables), while there was no cheating in the one person desks. Likewise this is the hardest test so far this year, the average no cheat test was 72%, the average cheat test was 98%...

    What you would do?
     
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  3. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I'm not sure what you should do about the retest, but I just wanted to say how awful it was the student(s) shoved the key under a chair. It's almost like they wanted to shove it in your face they cheated. How mean.

    I hope you come to a decision you feel at peace with.
     
  4. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I would probably make the retest insanely hard (but still in the realm of fair) so that at least if they get a good grade on it, it would prove that they knew the material really well.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I would give them a zero for the first test and grade the second test fairly, then average the two tests together. That keeps them from getting a score so low that they can't recover from the stupid mistake of cheating, yet still provides a memorable lesson in why one shouldn't cheat.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Some reflections on the original situation:

    I think each class should get a different test. Otherwise, the kids come into the later periods knowing the answers.

    I also think that the answer key should be away during the test. Otherwise it's too easy for the kids to get to it.

    Finally, I think that teachers should be proctoring during testing-- watching the kids fairly closely. If 4 kids were sharing an answer key, it should have been fairly easy to spot during the test.

    OF course the kids were wrong on all levels. They cheated and they should be punished for doing so. I agree with mm-- a zero on this test, then a re-test on the material.

    But I'm not sure that your own behavior didn't make cheating a more attractive alternative than it needed to be.
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I would also be verrrry careful about leaving that key out on your desk! I always keep mine in my desk drawer, which is insanely noisy when opened.
     
  8. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    First graders are more blatant cheaters. If the test is one where the teacher reads the questions, at least one will raise their hand and want to call out the answers. Once I had a kid get up, walk over to the another kids desk and take his paper. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, very straight faced, "I need to copy it."

    Can you make the test insanely hard and then grade on a curve?

    (BTW, are you still biking? FYI, I'm the guy from Davis who lets first graders paint his bike. Good to hear from you.)
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure that first graders have a good handle on the difference between "sharing" and "cheating."

    Students who take Chemistry, on the other hand, understand very well what they're doing when they "share" answers.
     
  10. my58vw

    my58vw Rookie

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    It is extremely hard to watch every kid at all times during the test. The key was inside the desk, a student got it when I was taking care of another student elsewhere in the room. Unfortunately Chemistry tests require constant watching/helping because everyone seems to have questions (how many sig figs?, what unit?, etc).

    I am going to make some changes, I will take care of things today in class... :)
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The advice here is good so far. I don't have much to add except that cheating blows and it makes me pretty irritated.

    Our school had a big cheating scandal a few months ago involving about half the junior class. The students in AP US History got ahold of the answer key to one of the tests (stole it from a teacher's email--that's a whole different story) and passed them around before the test.

    Once they were caught, the students who admitted cheating were sort of let off the hook with just a parent conference and a very stern admonition. The students who were "given up" by their peers as having cheated but did not admit to cheating were given harsher punishments (kicked off of student council, kicked out of the magnet program, etc.).

    Some of my students were involved in the fiasco--some of my best and brightest students, ones who until that point seemed quite trustworthy. I know they were ashamed and disappointed in themselves (as they should have been). I hope they learned a lesson.

    What's so interesting about the whole thing is that their teacher (the one whose test key they stole) got expelled from college for plagiarism. He tells the story every year to his students about what he did and how much it cost him (financially, mentally, etc.). It's not like the students didn't know exactly what they were doing and how bad it was.
     
  12. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    :yeahthat:
     
  13. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Depending on how many tests you have during a term you may just give them the zero and the other score as an extra grade.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It seems that a natural consequence would be that you refuse to answer questions during a test. Make the directions as explicit as possible, then they're on their own.

    That will hurt more than any zero.
     
  15. MrsOrion

    MrsOrion Rookie

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    Here's what I think, you should grade them fairly on a totally new test but tell them otherwise. Its both your fault and your children's fault. Your not suppose to put candy in front of a kid like that. Your irresponsibility lead to this anyways. So both are at fault.
     
  16. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I would have thrown out all the tests and given a new test to all the classes, without a word of explanation. I would have given them 1 night to prepare and have the stuff fresh in their minds. Actually, I would have kept the original tests and compared the scores. I think it would drive them crazy to know you knew what had happened and be left wondering what was going to happen next.

    Yes, I know it would not be fair to those who did not cheat. So give them the higher score of the two tests. I love to handle things in a way that the kids get the message loud and clear and yet I don't have to expend any extra energy showing my anger, disappointment, etc. It makes them go nuts!
     
  17. MrsOrion

    MrsOrion Rookie

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    This is actually a great idea. Then instead of you punishing the cheating students, their fellow classmates(the ones that didnt cheat) will teach them a lesson all on their own.
     
  18. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I like it more and more the more I think about it!

    If anyone asked "Why are we taking another test??" I would just say "There was a problem with the first test." I really think it would drive the cheaters nuts.
     
  19. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I wouldn't do anything that affects their grade directly, such as giving them a 0. Behavior shouldn't be reflected in a grade. I would just make them retake it. However, I might make them really earn the grade by making the test harder and not being very forgiving when grading it.

    I would then punish them another way, such as detention. See what your school's policy is.
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    In theory, I totally agree. However, my school's policy (and most others for that matter) is to give a 0%.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Actually, I dissagree. Academic dishonesty is enough to get you kicked out of universities. Dishonesty of this sort in real life can cause you to lose your job and your professional reputation. The thing with cheating is that it's academic dishonesty, and as such, the consequences should be reflected academically.
     
  22. lindydish

    lindydish Rookie

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    I agree.
     
  23. Anne wmcosuvamu

    Anne wmcosuvamu Companion

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    I agree, however, you must take into account that these are not college students, they are still children. Therefore, they should be aware of the severity of their transgression, but allowed to take it as a learning experience.

    When I was in 7th grade, I had an assignment to write a poem. Even at that point, I was discerning enough in relation to poetry to know that anything I wrote was absolute crap. :lol: I had no idea how to write a poem. After nights of agonizing, writing, and throwing away every line, I copied down a poem from a book written by an anonymous author. I figured no one would have a clue because the author was "unknown". Of course I was found out.

    The teacher then did a great thing: she called me up to talk to her after class and explained to me how terrible a thing I had done, gave me the plagirism lecture, and told me that she could take it to the office and have me suspended for a day. In my 12 year old mind, this was the most terrible thing that could ever happen to me. She told me that as long as I promised to never do it again, she would let me redo the assignment and not tell anyone at the office or my mother. It was a godsend -- being in trouble in the office and getting a 0 on the assignment was as bad as years in prison to me. I have never forgotten that moment, the sinking stomach, the welling tears, and the absolute gratefullness that I felt (and still feel!) towards the teacher. I never did cheat or plagarize again.

    Now, the students of the original poster are not middle schoolers, and probably don't have the deathly fear of the office that I did, but this can still be construed as a learning experience that will show them the potential severity of their actions while still allowing them to make a youthful mistake. I would retest the whole class after having a serious talk about cheating without naming any names, but making it clear you know (and will not reveal) who did cheat. I would explain very clearly that cheating, per policy, results in a 0, but that this is their one "get out of jail" card. Then, if the same students are caught cheating again (make a personal note of who it was where others cannot find that information), I would react much more harshly.
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    So, when do the "real" consequences kick in? If you read waaayyyyy back to the first page, my original advise was to assign a zero to the original test, retest with a test that's maybe a little trickier than the original, but not horribly difficult, and then average the two grades to get the grade that will be inputted for that test. The rational was so that the hit the final grade took wasn't large enough so that it couldn't be recovered from.

    I don't believe in "get out of jail" cards. There's a consequence, period. As you did point out, that consequence needs not be as severe in the younger grade, but the OP is teaching chemistry, so we're talking about at least 10th grade.

    On another note, I just had to testify in front of the honor council at the community college where I work in the evenings. I caught a student cheating twice (recieved a zero for the first one, then tried it again, got another zero, and additional restrictions on test taking.). She didn't want to accept those two zeros and thought she could fight her way out of it by complaining up the chain of command. Now, I'm sure this student had been caught cheating in HS or younger, but got that "get out of jail" card, or the consequences weren't severe enough to teach a real lesson. Anyway, the decision by the honor council was to suspend this student from an open admission community college for 5 years, and impose a list of conditions that must be met before re-admittance. Instead of learning this lesson in high school, where a zero on a test doesn't even knock you out of contention for an A, she's now essentially ruined her young adult life. She can't come back to this school for 5 years, and getting admitted to any other school with that on her transcripts is going to be pretty tough.
     
  25. lindydish

    lindydish Rookie

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    I'll jump in again and say how much I agree with the last poster. There have been numerous articles in the last week about the "entitled millenial generation." How is giving a "get out of jail free" card or numerous second chances teaching our students that there are consequences for your actions.

    Students today aren't taking responsibility for their learning. They wait for teachers to come up with dynamic, entertaining lesson plans so they can be spoon-fed. They wait for parents to come to bat for them if they believe someone isn't acting "fair." If students are not taught that cheating has serious consequences, what will stop them from doing it again? Taking a zero for a test will teach that lesson. Yes, it may screw up their final grade and yes, it may take a lot of work to recover from it, but that is the lesson. The students chose to cheat, they obviously knew it was wrong because they stuffed the lesson plan under a chair. They need to take the responsibility for their choice.
     
  26. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I like this idea!!

    ETA-I havn't worked with high schoolers in quite a long time but if you gave them zeros would they challenge them and say you did not actually SEE them cheat?? I have no idea how it would go since you knkow your students better than I do.
     
  27. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    It is pretty serious. But I still like the idea of handling it in a way that will drive them crazy - to me that is the best punishment and something memorable. And of course, lock up the key to the test before giving out the test. And give a slightly different test to each class.

    To me, yes, there are many steps and punitive ways of handling this. But I just love the idea of making them a little crazy in the head. They will punish themselves!

    Actually, my most evil thought is if you really wanted to make your point, you could give the next test and leave out a key that only begins with a couple problems like the test. And make all the rest bogus. Then the real cheaters would pop out. But that is kinda like entrapment. So not a great idea. BUt I have a perverse sense of humor.

    I really think the best punishments are the ones that come from within the person. Yes, when they get to college and cheat, they will get the hammer. But this is a way to mess with their minds and get them to punish themselves. It is kinda the Love and Logic way. All the stress is off the teacher, and onto the kids. Gotta love it! :D
     
  28. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    The only thing I have against having the classes take a different version of the test is that you are not only punishing the cheaters but ALL the students.
     
  29. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Yes, but those who did not cheat would probably do about as well as the first time, and the teacher could give them the higher grade. I don't think it is a punishment to take a test over. Plus, as we well know, sometimes the group has to suffer because of a couple nut cases - see the thread on "new dress code." Same kind of thing - the whole faculty has to suddenly dress in business attire, because a few are not dressing professionally.
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    In fact, that's what rules do: because somebody was stupid about something, a rule gets imposed, and it infringes on the freedom of all those who don't need that rule in order to behave.
     
  31. MrsOrion

    MrsOrion Rookie

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    Well put. :)
     
  32. my58vw

    my58vw Rookie

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    Wow, this thread blew up... :confused: :hugs:

    The final verdict. Each students parent was called, and the students were given a choice... admit to the cheating, retake the test, and take a 20% penalty on their new score (so if they got a 80% on the retake they would get a 80% - (20% of 80) = 64%). The students who do not admit to cheating would also retake the test, and the grade would be compared to the original test. If their was a significant difference the student would be issued a referral and a zero based on school policy (for lying about the cheating).

    Strategies for next time: Keep key at home, no grading until the day is done, new seats on test day (alphabetical order), and closer monitoring. Students at my school can not be trusted to keep out of my stuff, so I will have to treat them as such... :mad:
     
  33. MrsOrion

    MrsOrion Rookie

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    HAHA good going! theres some good suggestions in this thread that you may want to consider =P
     
  34. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Good job handling a sticky situation!
     
  35. sciencegurl

    sciencegurl Companion

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    I know I would want to give zeros, but with that many kids affected the deans might pressure me to do otherwise. Our honor code specifies that academic dishonesty earns that student a zero, parent contact and probably detentions for the offense (the kid who was the original stealer of the key would be punished most severely). Personally, I think retaking the test for full points is not the best course of action. Those kids chose to be dishonest and should suffer the consequence of those actions. If they just get a regular grade, what's the incentive not to cheat again (esp if they DON'T get caught next time?) Minimally, I would offer a retake for 50% credit.
     
  36. sciencegurl

    sciencegurl Companion

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    I think your solution was a good one. I esp like them being allowed to retake (a different version?) of the test and comparing the results to weed out the dishonest ones.
     
  37. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    If they're taking Chemistry, the odds are overwhelming that they're Juniors in high school. So many of them have jobs and driver's licenses.

    They're not quite adults, but I most certainly wouldn't call them "children" either.
     
  38. Catcherman22

    Catcherman22 Companion

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    I'd give them the same test and see what hey score on it...

    If they didn't cheat they should score about the same
     

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