Why do students cheat and what can you do about it?
It’s a sunny day in June. The teacher, we can call him Mr Brown, is sitting behind his desk in the classroom he now almost considers home. Outside of the open window, students are laughing and enjoying the nice weather. He takes a deep breath. The air is filled with the flowery scent of summer.
Although the day is as nice as it can be, Mr Brown is not in a good mood. He has something on his mind. One of his students, let’s call him Blue, has been caught cheating. This was first detected when Mr Brown corrected one of his exams a few backs. Careful to not make any accusations before there was proof, Mr Brown then asked Blue to take another test, verbally this time. During this occasion, Blue could only solve one of the fifteen problems his teacher had prepared. He claimed that he had forgotten the correct method since the test had been “a whole week ago”. Mr Brown did not buy that excuse. Nobody forgets almost everything that quickly, he thought.
So now when it had been proven, at least beyond Mr Brown’s doubt, that Blue had cheated he had to deal with the issue. He couldn’t give Blue yet another chance. The term was coming to an end soon and Mr Brown did neither have time or energy to prepare one more test for just a single student. Besides, Blue had been given the opportunity to prove himself twice already. You don’t get an endless amount of tries, do you?
How did it get like this? More and more teachers are probably asking themselves this question every day. Although cheating is not a new invention, there is a lot of new technology which definitely makes it easier to get away with. Phones, internet and now digital exams. The options for students that want to cheat are endless. Not at all like when Mr Brown himself had studied. The most popular method back then had been to write notes on your hands or someplace else you could easily access during a test. High risk, low reward.
Maybe the culture around cheating has changed, Mr Brown reflects. Thirty years ago, math had been taken more seriously and the student who got caught at least had the decency to be ashamed. Blue, on the other hand, had just rolled his eyes at him when he had been accused. Like he didn’t even care enough to listen to what Mr Brown had discovered.
Perhaps students feel less motivated to make an effort today compared to when Mr Brown was growing up. New technology also brings new career opportunities. Students have an infinite amount of possibilities. They can, for example, make content on social media and if they’re popular enough they’ll still be able to pay rent and food. All they need is a phone. Besides, for many of these jobs, it’s not really necessary to know a lot of math either. This makes the subject pointless in their eyes.
No matter the reason, though, the focus has to be on how to solve the problem. One way could be to try and decrease the opportunities the students have to cheat, Mr Brown thinks. If you have the exam digitally, you should make sure that the student can’t access the internet in any way. Take away all phones and use a platform that they can’t leave until they have handed in their exam.
Another way to stop the cheating could be to implement more student engaged activities into one’s lessons. By doing this, and making it part of the examination, it’s easier for the teacher to know what students actually know. These types of activities also improve the learning process for the students. By discussing math, more of them understand it.
What would you have done in the same situation? What do you think is the solution to the problem with cheating students? Comment down below!