Monday, January 03, 2011


I gave a test a few days before Christmas break. I don't spend a lot of time looking for cheating or deploying all my resources to prevent it; in general I work on the honor system. When I catch it, though, well....

I have about 100 students in one course I teach, spread out over 3 periods. When nine of them have the same wrong answers, and with no accompanying work showing how they arrived at those answers, I suspect cheating. So I asked them, individually. I told them the issue, told them my suspicions, and waited.

A couple were going to try to talk their way out of it. A disappointed look, accompanied by looking straight into their eyes and asking "Really?", was enough to get them to reconsider. Seven of them came clean. One doubled down, and the last was absent today and could not be consulted.

Even though I know I shouldn't, I take cheating personally. They don't mean it personally--they just want to move ahead a little bit--but I wilt at the disrespect it shows me. I'm not sure I can explain why, but I felt better when they just admitted it and got it out in the open--maybe because they didn't compound it by lying? I'm not sure. But I can respect someone who admits a mistake and apologizes for it.

Yes, I cheated in high school. I didn't mean to show disrespect to my teachers when I did it, and I'd have been horrified if it would ever have occurred to me that if they'd caught me, that they'd consider my actions disrespectful. I looked up to them too much to want to shoulder that kind of disappointment from them. So I think I understand my students completely. None of us enjoys being in this situation, feeling the way we do.

I've taken the appropriate actions. The issue with me is closed, and we move on from here.


Happy Elf Mom said...

Thank you for consulting with the students and giving them a chance to talk about it. Though... I can't tell you how often I have gotten the same very odd wrong answers from both my children on a test or worksheet. Even when they are sitting across the room from one another, under my direct supervison. It can happen.

Anonymous said...

What was their punishment?

Darren said...

It's not appropriate for me to say.