Cheaters Never Prosper…Do They?

11 Dec

I caught some cheaters this week…

Of, course, they don’t think that they were cheating…which makes this story all the more frustrating.

But I’m getting ahead of myself….

I have this class…there are about 40 students. It’s a math class for majors…and I gave them a take home test last week.

That was my first mistake.

When I gave them the test, I told them that they were honor-bound to work only on their own tests…that they were not to receive any outside assistance.

That was my second mistake.

When I got the tests back, I began to grade them…

That was my third mistake.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? This entire scenario is fraught with mistakes. There is plenty of blame to be placed here.

And it’s all on me.

Just ask my students…they’ll tell you that they weren’t cheating. They’ll tell you that my instructions were not clear, that I did not define for them what constituted cheating, and so the assistance that they offered each other was not cheating.

This was not one or two students…

This was six…

And those are only the ones for whom I was confident enough in the evidence to confront them. I had at least 4 other students that appeared to copy off of one another, but the comparisons were not quite strong enough to make a case in front of the Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs…

Which is something I did not want to do.

I offered these six students a reasonably painless (for them) way out. Since I was dropping their lowest test score anyway, I would just give them a zero for this test, drop THIS score and calculate their grades based on the four previous tests. We would not speak of this again, they would learn a lesson, and we would move on. I told them that if they did not wish to choose this option, they were free to file an appeal, at which point, we would have a hearing with the dean of their department and the Vice-Chancellor.

None of them wanted that.

All of them admitted that they had worked together in pairs on the test.

None of them admitted that they were cheating.

In fact, all of them seemed bewildered that I was accusing them of cheating.

They didn’t think that helping each other on a take home test was cheating…

Or wrong…

One of the students was actually so indignant that she demanded a hearing in front of the dean and the Vice -Chancellor because, even though she admitted that she helped another student, SHE had done her own work, so she was not “guilty of cheating.” She did not view her assistance on a take home test to a fellow student as morally wrong.

You know what is saddest about this story?

It’s not that our society has declined to the point that the intentional violation of rules is viewed as the fault of the rule maker rather than the rule breaker…

It’s not even the fact that some teachers have now resorted to requiring that their students sign a code of conduct contract in order to protect themselves from litigious individuals.

What’s saddest about this whole mess is that the students in my class…the students I caught cheating…the students who honestly don’t feel that they did anything wrong…

They are all studying to become Elementary School Teachers.

That’s not a typo. I’ll say it again in case you think you misread it…

They are all studying to become Elementary School Teachers.

Within 3 years, these students will be teachers themselves, standing in front of a classroom full of children, molding them…developing them… teaching them…

And they have no moral problem with cheating…

They believe that the rules don’t apply to them…

And they are going to pass these values on to the next generation of students…

Students who will one day grow up, graduate from high school, and walk into my college classroom…

Students who will wonder what the big deal is when I catch them cheating…

Suddenly, homeschooling doesn’t look like such a bad option.

At least my kids will know that cheating is wrong.

And if they do it, and they are caught, they will know that THEY were wrong…that THEY are responsible for they mess…

And they won’t blame it on the teacher.


Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Family, Society, Teaching, Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

3 responses to “Cheaters Never Prosper…Do They?

  1. Jereda Snyder

    December 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

    So sad.
    Frightening that it is the true state of our students– you at the college level, me at the middle school level. Some have no moral compass and a strong sense of entitlement. So sad.

  2. Helen

    December 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Sounds like the banksters on Wall Street went to the same elementary school as your future teachers. Perhaps the Department of Justice did too, DoJ didn’t commit the crimes, but because they assist by ignoring the enforcement of our laws, the DoJ is guilty too.

  3. Dave

    December 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    This type of behaivior is so prevalent I’m not sure that being responsible for your own actions will ever have the popularity it once did.


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