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This recent article from the New York Times addresses the challenge of preventing cheating on homework projects and tests. The use of technology to check assignments for plagiarism and to monitor students during exams certainly seems to be growing. However, not all instructors or institutions buy into this approach, with some advocating the less-adversarial approach of instilling an atmosphere of honor and trust.

This is not a simple either/or question, to be sure, but in terms of overall emphasis, do you lean toward fostering an environment of trust or relying on monitoring systems to prevent cheating? Is the honor system realistic, even if it is the preferred strategy?

  • No Responses to “What Is the Best Strategy to Prevent Cheating?”

    1. Vivian Kanj Says:

      I’m afraid the honor system is not realistic and doesn’t work with all students. Students who come from different schools and backgrounds have different perceptions and understanding of cheating and plagiarism. Most of my students think it’s ok to copy a phrase, it’s not a big deal. And cheating is an art sometimes they do it for the pleasure of breaking the system or outsmarting their teacher. So, my strategy is to work with them individually and monitor the process of writing. When they write a short report, I invite them to a meeting and I ask them to bring the articles with them and highlight every single information they’ve used. Also bring along their first draft and we go through the process together. It’s a step to building an environment of trust. My objective is to show them that every phrase and word counts. Sometimes students plagiarize due to weakness in the language(when English is their second language)and have difficulty writing in their own words and that’s a major problem. In short I rely on a friendly monitoring system.

    2. Jane Barr Says:

      I agree with Vivian, who notes that the honor system doesn’t work with all students, especially those with actual or perceived language weaknesses. At our two-year community college, my approach is to trust yet occasionally verify using Turn-it-in software for research assignments. In addition, students are required to turn in supporting materials with all assignments if work is to be graded.

      For most written assignments, supporting materials consist of cluster diagrams, first and subsequent drafts, peer review copies with classmates’ comments, revision copies, and a final “clean” copy for grading. For reports and proposals I ask them to include research materials (articles, brochures, phone or interview notes, copies of pertinent web research or live links to the sites used, list of works cited, and citations for any published research material incorporated into the report).

      This seems to give students less incentive to strive for “zero to perfect” in one plagiarized draft and more incentive to apply the “draft-edit-polish” model. Further, it allows students to see how others develop and edit documents during peer review sessions. Since it’s more painful and time consuming to reproduce “fake” clusters, drafts, and revisions (though not impossible), most students take the process seriously. It’s a lot to collect, yet it gives me each student’s developmental path and guides my feedback. Thanks for asking!

    3. admin Says:

      It should read “Submit.” Thanks!!

      The Bovee & Thill Team