Another chapter is my personal investigation of cheating...
Is cheating an academic or a behavioral problem? That question was posed to me by my principal last week, and I was not prepared for the myriad of questions and emotions it aroused in me. I do not think I can answer with either word. Here is what I do know:
1. Most students cheat or know and witness cheaters every day. They also know that teachers do not catch cheating 90% of the time.
2. Most teachers punish cheating with a call to the parent, a visit to the Dean or a point penalty, or a mixture of these consequences.
3. Students who do not cheat resent the lack of punishment for those who do. They doubt their motivation to be honest.
4. Honor codes are just window dressing, because they are not really enforceable.
5. When kids cheat, the teacher does not know if they learned what they need to learn to move to the next step. The teacher may not know that they are not ready, since cheating is so hard to document.
6. A 0 on an assignment signals to a student that they have not achieved mastery. In my class, you only receive a 0 if you did not do the assignment or you cheated.
7. In my experience, it is the more adept students who cheat more regularly. More expectations for achievement--personal, familial, and school based, I suppose. Students with learning differences, on the other hand, often spend years being supervised as they practice study skills, sit in classes that are small and therefore more controlled. The result? They often possess stronger study skills, and more willingness to try on tests and essays. The routine of work is comfortable and something they can rely upon.