By Teachers, For Teachers
No teacher wants to believe her students are cheating, but they probably are. If the kids put half the time into studying that they put into figuring out how to cheat, there’d be a lot more “A” students in the world.
By implementing a few simple changes, you can avoid a cheating crisis in your classroom.
Stop Cheating Before It Starts
Establish a Clear Policy of Rules & Repercussions
Establish a clear Academic Dishonesty policy and tell students in advance – whether it be points off the test, a zero, or a letter home. Make sure it’s in line with any school or district policies, but make sure it has “teeth.”
A gentle reminder about the policy during a test may be all you need to persuade a potential cheater to keep her eyes on her own paper.
Know Your Students
Some English teachers make a point of doing an in-class essay early in the school year. Why? Because they now have a documented example of how their students write without the aid of parents, computers, or essay mills. Learn how your students operate and you’ll be able to recognize potential cheating much more easily.
Find a suspicious sentence? Google it – you might just find the source from which they plagiarized.
(A student of mine once left the Wikipedia link in the essay she submitted electronically. It took one click to find proof of cheating.)
Know How They Might Cheat
Do a search online for “how to cheat on tests” and you will be amused and dismayed by what you find. Students are very innovative when it comes to cheating. Knowing how they might cheat can help you keep your eyes out for suspicious behavior on the day of the test.
Change How You Test
Decide what you’re really testing – do you want them to prove they’ve memorized the formula? Or that they can use the formula to solve a problem? Consider using “open book” tests when you want to test a skill rather than content knowledge. It eliminates some reasons why students cheat.
How to Prevent Cheating
Keep It Covered Up
Simply encouraging students to keep their papers covered can help – the “good kids” will do it, and they’re the ones people may want to cheat off of anyway.
You can also create laminated cover sheets and pass them out with the test. But beware of allowing kids to use their own cover sheets, which may be prepped with answers in advance.
Make Your Own Test
Of course, it’s tempting to use the built-in test that comes with the textbook. But they’re so much easier to cheat on and those “recommended” essay questions are guaranteed to show up in essay mills.
Your best solution? Create a test that includes some “bonus” content that’s not from the textbook – that fun extra assignment you did or that documentary you showed when you were out sick. Build that into your test. It’s legitimate content to quiz them on and it will be much harder to find an essay that happens to include that information.
Avoid Multiple Choice
Yes, they’re easy to grade – and easy to cheat on. Short answer or essay questions may take longer to grade, but they make kids work a little more and cheating may be easier to spot.
Make Multiple Versions of the Test
You’re making it harder for them to cheat because they can’t copy the person next to them. Some teachers make two versions by shifting the same questions into a different order. Some teachers tell kids they’ve made two versions, even if they haven’t (but the students will catch on if you do this a lot).
However you do it, let the kids know the person sitting next to them doesn’t have the same test they do. It stops some cheating right away and it’s much easier to catch the kid who did cheat when his answers suddenly are 100% right – for the other version of the test.
Establish Test Policies
Students use hoodie sweatshirts, mp3 players, water bottles, mechanical pencils, erasers, and just about anything else you can think of to sneak information in. Based on your school, your students, and your classroom, establish reasonable policies that will cut down on these options. If you tell students at the start of the year that they cannot listen to mp3 players in your classroom, cannot drink from a water bottle during a test, and must use pencils that you provide, you’ve spared yourself a little cheating.
It’s a sad comment on our students that they are so desperate to cheat, but they feel the pressure to succeed. Wishing it didn’t happen will only get you confrontations with sneaky students or angry parents. Put some policies in place today and save yourself the headache.
How do you stop cheating in your classroom? Share in the comments section.