I’m just helping: a look at electronic cheating by students

Higher Ed Morning ran an article this week about the Top 5 Ways Students Cheat Electronically, interestingly, all involve the cell phone (surprise!)

They quote a survey by Common Sense Media that states:

“35% of teens use their cell phones to cheat by:

  • 26% store info on their phone and look at it while taking a test
  • 25% send text messages to friends, asking for answers
  • 17% take pictures of a test – and then send it to their friends
  • 20% use their phones to search for answers on the Internet
  • 48% warn friends about a pop quiz with a phone call or text message”

 OK, to me this brings up a couple of points:
1) Why should the same test be given to multiple classes?  You can have an essay for one class and another type for another.  yes, it is more work on the teacher, but just a couple of times of doing this will confuse them and make them realize they are wasting their time.  The top use of the cell phone is in “warning friends” about a pop quiz.
2) Same with pop tests!
3) Cell phones (if used in class) should just go in a test box while testing if they have them on their person and of course — NO ONE SHOULD GO TO THE BATHROOM DURING A TEST – if you don't have that one done, then you have a problem.

If they problem is cheating during a test, then make sure that they don't have their cell phone any where near DURING A TEST.  Mix things up.

And of course,

4) Get out this article and discuss it.  Sometimes just discussing HOW this is cheating will discourage your better students. However, if they really want to cheat they will find a way.

I remember a guy in my class who had a lot of them – he wrote 100 vocab words on the bottom of his shoe – he also pasted a mini answer sheet outside the teacher's window that he read every time he sharpened his pencil.  The tiny piece of paper is still a popular trick as well.

Kids will try but the best counter for cheating is to watch the students. I know it is tempting to sit at your desk and work and catch up on grading – however, testing is a time you have to do your job and watch the kids take the test — a vigilant teacher can prevent a lot of this from happening.  Cheating has been around as long as schools have been around.  Just remember to look at this with a level head and remember how valuable those cell phones can be in the classroom if used well.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Alfred Thompson September 18, 2009 - 10:27 pm

I once gave a class several versions of the same test. When I handed them out someone complained that they and their neighbor answered C for question 5 but I maked them wrong and their neighbor right. I explained that they had different tests. Student asked if I had told them about that. I asked “why would I need to do that?” :-)

Anonymous September 19, 2009 - 11:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It is definitely a problem. How do you even get the students to admit they have a phone with them in the classroom? I could see that as a problem

Pam September 23, 2009 - 12:42 pm

I am an administrator at this time and deal with lots of complaints about cheating. those of you who are willing to monitor closely as students test and are willing to mix up your test questions on different versions will have fewer problems. It is just that simple! Be proactive and remember that kids will take advantage of your lack of vigilance for the most part. A tough school policy will deter some as well. I like the response of someone who stated that teachers who allow a note card etc. are really prompting kids to study. After all, that card takes a lot of preparation.
My praise goes out to all of you who are willing to work at assessing learning in ways that make sense to kids and also help us judge whether or not they have met the learning targets we put out for them.

Anonymous September 23, 2009 - 11:20 pm

Being a student myself attending college I know the in’s and out’s of cheating and what goes on behind closed doors. I know the tricks and yes going to the bathroom using a cell phone is the most popular! If the student is ever going to achieve anything and learn anything then the teacher must not be so lazy. Of course it takes more work for the teacher to make up different tests but in the end it’s totally worth it. The teacher and the student are gaining more than what they think.

Joye 510 February 17, 2011 - 9:53 am

It is more work on the teacher, but just a couple of times of doing this will confuse them and make them realize they are wasting their time. The top use of the cell phone is in “warning friends” about a pop quiz.

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