Tag Archives: Cheating in Schools

Suing to get a better high school transcript after cheating incident

2 May

This blog post is about cheating and whether given enough time and resources, one can escape consequences. Campus Explorer discusses the importance of a high school transcript in, What Is a High School Transcript and Why Is It Important?

When planning for college, your high school transcript is paramount. With this transcript you can show admissions counselors how hard you work, what areas you excel in and which major or type of degree might be best for you.

When he obtains your transcript, the college admissions officer will look at:

  1. Your grade point average (GPA) and class rank. Be aware that some schools only consider core classes (like English, math, science and social studies) when calculating your GPA (What is a GPA?), while others look at grades for all of your classes.
  2. The types of classes you enrolled in. AP/IB classes will show that you are serious about planning for college, while a course load of non-academic classes will not impress them very much.
  3. How consistent your GPA was. When schools are looking for desirable candidates, they want to see that you are willing to work hard, and maintaining a high grade point average shows that. Rocky start? Keep at it. Schools also like to see GPA improvement.
  4. The number of pass/fail classes you took. Earning a passing grade in these classes is often considered a D by colleges. Avoid pass/fail classes so they don’t impact your cumulative GPA.
  5. Your behavior record, if included. It would only be a factor if there were any negative reports, such as suspensions or other disciplinary actions….

To determine how you’re being evaluated for college programs and degrees, ask your guidance counselor about your transcript:

  • How often you’re evaluated: every quarter, trimester or semester?
  • Does the transcript only include courses you completed, or are dropped/incomplete courses also on the record?
  • How does the school rank students? High school academic rankings compare your cumulative GPA (your average GPA for each semester of high school) against your classmates’ scores. Common ranking types include: X out of Y (for example, 208th out of 600, with 1 as the highest-ranked student), percentage (90th percentile), ratio (top fifth of graduating class)
  • Is GPA weighted, with AP/IB classes worth more? (This means GPAs higher than 4.0 are possible, which affects where your score falls in the rankings.)
  • Does the transcript include a profile with records like attendance, community service, a list of honors, and AP classes, etc.?
  • Does it include a school profile? This is a demographic record of student population, AP/IB classes offered and other pertinent information that is usually required by college admissions officers.

http://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/6EFD2352/What-Is-a-High-School-Transcript-and-Why-Is-It-Important/

A transcript is an important item in the quest to get into competitive colleges.

Sharon Noguchi and Bonnie Eslinger write in the San Mateo County Times article, Parents who sued school over son’s punishment for cheating receive hate messages:

Jack Berghouse doesn’t dispute that his son, a sophomore at Sequoia High School, copied someone else’s homework. But the Redwood City father believes the school district was wrong to kick his teenager out of an English honors class for the offense, and his decision to sue has embroiled the family in a public, opinionated debate.

“I’m getting a lot of hate calls at my office,” said Berghouse, who practices family law. “I had no freaking idea this would happen.”

Berghouse’s son and three other students were removed from a sophomore honors English class at Sequoia in Redwood City for copying and sharing homework. In response, Berghouse filed a suit last week in San Mateo County Superior Court, claiming his son’s due process rights were violated. It names as defendants the Sequoia Union High School District, Superintendent James Lianides and Sequoia High School Principal Bonnie Hansen.

The suit, which seeks to force the school to readmit Berghouse’s son to the honors class, drew immediate criticism.

“I’m outraged that the parents would go to that extreme,” said Diana Guinard, a Novato mother of four teenagers. “I expect the teachers to hold the kids accountable. Anything less would destroy the lessons I teach at home.”

And in an informal online reader poll by this newspaper, 84 percent of about 300 respondents said students should not get a second chance when caught cheating….

Berghouse’s son, who is not being named because he is a minor, had signed an “Academic Honesty Pledge” at the beginning of the school year that declares cheating is grounds for immediate removal from the advanced-level program; his mother also had signed it.

However, Berghouse said, the school has conflicting policies; there is one stating that a student will be removed from class only after a second plagiarism offense.

In his son’s case, the students had to write in journals for homework. In March, two of the students were caught with copied entries from two others. Afterward, Berghouse’s son posted a Facebook entry protesting the “tyranny” and injustice of the punishment. As a result, he was called into the school office.

All four students involved in the incident were transferred to regular English classes. Berghouse believes the punishment is disproportionate to the offense and will jeopardize the academic future of his son, who he said has a chance at attending an Ivy League school.

With the stakes and pressure high for students to get into selective colleges, children’s grades and courses have become paramount for many parents.

“There is the possibility this will cause permanent harm. What university will it keep him out of? Will that have far-ranging consequences in what kind of job he can get?” Berghouse said….

The sophomore was enrolled in the International College Advancement Program, or ICAP, designed by the high school to prepare students for the demanding International Baccalaureate curriculum offered to juniors and seniors.                                                                                          http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county-times/ci_20493867/parents-who-sued-school-over-sons-punishment-cheating

According to the article, the students knew what they were doing was wrong.

Caroline Knorr has some excellent advice in the Common Sense Media article, Caught Cheating: New Ways Kids Are Breaking the Rules

How to Talk to Kids About Cheating

1. Is it a shortcut or a cheat? A kid who knowingly tries to pass off someone else’s work as his own is cheating. If he takes a shortcut — say, doing research on Wikipedia rather than at the library — that’s an error in judgment about the trustworthiness of Wikipedia’s material. In this case, kids should understand that Wikipedia isn’t the same as an original source.

2. Is it a “cheat” or a gimme? The term “cheat” has become a part of the culture. Game developers plant “cheats” in their games to reward kids who are savvy enough to find out the cheat codes. But “cheat” in this case isn’t really accurate. Games are intentionally designed with these built-in rewards to add an extra challenge. Kids should understand the distinction — game cheats are a ploy, but there’s no secret code that unlocks your homework.

3. Is it collaborating or cheating? Texting the answers to someone taking a test is cheating, and your child’s school surely has a policy against it. But other forms of communication — like collaborating via IM on Facebook with friends — might actually be OK because they help kids work out problems together. As long as the teacher approves and your kids understand the ground rules around not stealing others’ answers or giving away their own, a little IMing during homework time — for help, not full-scale answer delivery — is probably OK.

4. What technology is OK to use for school? Don’t let the technology — or the anonymity — of some of these methods get in the way of talking about cheating. Cheating means taking credit for something you didn’t do or giving your own answers away. Where and how it’s done doesn’t matter. Follow your school’s policy on the use of digital devices.

5. How did you feel when you did it? That sinking feeling my friend had when her Facebook friends solved the word problems? That was her conscience. Kids have a sense of right and wrong, but they need a lot of reminders to do the right thing. One ally you have is kids’ desire to make their own choices. In this case, the choice is literally in their hands. They can create an honest, open Internet and mobile world, or they can create one in which they’ll always have to be suspicious of what they find and who they know.

Remember the Goldman Sucks weasels started small.

Related:

Verifying identity for online courses                                                                                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/verifying-identity-for-online-courses/

Accountability in virtual schools                                                                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/accountability-in-virtual-schools/

Cheating in schools goes high-tech                                                        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/cheating-in-schools-goes-high-tech/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Verifying identity for online courses

15 Apr

Cheating is increasingly a concern in education. Some colleges in an attempt to curb academic dishonesty on campus are beginning to employ methods one has usually associated with Las Vegas casinos. Minnesota State University Mankato has an excellent newsletter article about academic dishonesty. Richard C. Schimming writes in Academic Dishonesty

A recent survey found that 1/3 of all students admitted to cheating on an examination, 1/2 admitted to cheating on a class assignment, 2/3 admitted to cheating at least once during their college career, and 2/3 have seen classmates cheat on exams or assignments. Paradoxically, 3/4 of those in that survey believe that cheating is not justified under any circumstances. Finally, 1/2 of the students surveyed believe that the faculty of their university do not try to catch cheaters….

The various reasons that students give for cheating can also be instructive in obtaining a picture of academic dishonesty. Gleaned from a variety of sources, the list of student reasons for cheating given below is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive:

  1. Today’s generation of student has less of an attachment to the institution so that cheating is more impersonal and seen as less painful because of this detachment.
  2. The difficult job market places a premium on a high grade point average so that any means necessary will be employed to achieve and maintain good grades.
  3. Some students believe that professors are cheating them in the classroom by shirking their teaching responsibilities. Therefore, students come to believe that turnabout is fair play.
  4. New entering students find themselves in courses beyond their capability so they resort to cheating to succeed in the course.

The metaphors and social constructs provided by students in surveys can also provide insight into the rationale for academic dishonesty. In one recent study, students used the following metaphors for cheating:

  1. Cheating is just a game, so that it is not important how you win but what is important is that you win.
  2. Cheating is an addiction. Once a student has successfully cheated in some academic context, the urge to continue can become addicting.
  3. Cheating is an easy out. Rather than working hard to master the material, a student can be tempted to use the shortcut of academic dishonesty.
  4. Cheating is a personal dilemma. Students do not begin to cheat because they are ignorant of the potential consequences. Rather the decision to cheat is a difficult decision for most students.
  5. Cheating is theft. The act of cheating robs the institution, the professor, the cheating student, and the other students.
  6. Cheating is a team effort. Cheating does not occur in a vacuum. Where there is a culture that condones cheating and where a student sees other students cheating, academic dishonesty is more likely to flourish.

Trip Gabriel has an interesting article in the New York Times about the University of Central Florida’s attempts to defeat cheaters. In To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery

Gabriel describes attempts to stop cheating which resemble Las Vegas security.

George Watson and James Sottile of Marshall University have written the paper, Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses?

The focus of this study was on whether students cheat more in on-line or live courses, and, somewhat surprisingly, the results showed higher rates of academic dishonesty in live courses.  One possible explanation is that classroom social interaction in live classes plays some part in whether students decide to cheat, which would agree with the findings of Stuber-McEwen et al (2009).  Familiarity with fellow students may lessen moral objections to cheating as they work through assignments and assessments together over the course of a school term.  The findings that students believe more classmates will cheat in on-line courses than traditional classes are similar to the findings of King et al (2009).

While the study showed that cheating in on-line courses is no more rampant than cheating in live classes, one type of academically dishonest behavior does merit discussion for on-line course developers.  The data showed that students were significantly more likely to obtain answers from others during an on-line test or quiz.  This ability to receive answers without the monitoring of a professor, presents problems for the standard lecture-based, test-driven course.  Course developers should take extra precautions with regards to on-line tests or quizzes, either through having a test proctor, changing the type of assessment, or lowering the assessment’s value in relation to other course assignments.  In the example of test proctors, there are some instances in which faculty require students to be on campus to take exams, in person at a set date and time, to insure the person taking the test is the student enrolled in the class.  This approach can be cumbersome and may nullify the strength of online courses, which is the freedom to work on one’s own schedule at home….

The results on gender and academic class were mixed and, therefore, more difficult to garner conclusions.  Females were significantly more likely in online courses to admit to cheating and to have someone give them answers during a test or quiz, but in all other self-reported behaviors, no significant difference existed for gender.  It is difficult to determine from the data whether these differences accurately represented cheating behavior or if females were more honest in their survey responses or more ethical in their estimates of what constitutes academically dishonest behavior.  Academic class analysis showed significant differences for cheating and receiving assistance during tests and quizzes, but interestingly, the mean distributions were highest for freshmen and graduate students.  One could make the case that freshmen who cheat may not survive the rigors of collegiate academia, leaving fewer dishonest students in the upper classes, but that does not explain the scores for graduate students.

These results have implications for both the college professor and university administrators.  Students are already orientated to specific ethical behavior prior to entering college.  Since the college environment, either on-line or in the traditional classroom, is not an idealized environment, it is important for educators to address the need of moral or ethical development within each major.  The curriculum requirements for each academic major should involve a course in ethical behavior and moral development.  This course should be three credit hours and examine the process related to ethical resolution.  Every incoming first year student and transfer student should be required to complete a generalized ethics and moral development course.   It is unfortunate that both males and females self-report that they would cheat.  Given this behavior, professors and university administrators need to ensure that students who are caught cheating have to pay a consequence for such inappropriate behavior.  The college experience should instill a prominent level of ethical behavior in all students.  Such change should be proactive and the process of moral education should be driven by the need to help others.  According to Kohlberg’s (1984) research, education is one of the significant factors in increasing moral development. http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring131/watson131.html

There are strategies online education institutions can use to reduce cheating.

Distance Education.Org has a great article by Jennifer Williamson, Does Your Instructor Know It’s You? Issues in Verifying Online Student Identities:

While a recent study by Friends University shows that online students don’t cheat more than traditional students on the whole—and actually might cheat less—that doesn’t mean that online education isn’t vulnerable to cheating. And one major issue in preventing academic fraud in an online environment is demonstrated in the Florida case: the problem of student identity verification. How does your professor know it’s you taking that exam?

Here are a few ways online schools and instructors have been working to make sure they know the identity of students taking exams.

Proctoring

One of the most straightforward ways is insisting all important exams be proctored. This means you have to physically go to the school and take your exam in a room monitored by a proctor. Some schools may be able to arrange for you to take an exam in a remote location near your home, but even if this is possible for your school, this method does defeat the purpose of distance education to an extent—you have to leave the house or your workplace and travel to a test location, which could be problematic. It’s not ideal, but it is an easy way for professors to be sure it’s you taking the test.

Blackboard Acxiom

Many online degree programs use Blackboard to administer classes. Blackboard recently adopted an identity verification process powered by Acxiom, a risk mitigation company. With this software, you’ll have to enter the answers to verification questions, presumably set by you when you sign up for class, that only you can answer. The school using the software controls when students have to authenticate their identity. Of course, this isn’t a perfect solution as students could always simply tell their stand-ins the answers to their proprietary questions.

Certified IP locations

Under this system, also administered by Blackboard, teachers can specify the IP address where the student will take the test. This may allow you to take your test at your home computer, but teachers may also choose a computer for you to test on and then require you to come to campus to take the test in a proctored environment.

Remote proctor systems

There are a few remote proctoring systems, some of which are still being tested. One is the Securexam Remote Proctor System. It’s a small unit that plugs into the student’s USB port, with a fingerprint pad for identification—professors can choose how often during the test students are required to use it to identify themselves. It also includes a 365-degree camera that will alert the professor to anything strange happening in the room—like someone else walking in or speaking during the test. Professors don’t have to watch live; they can watch a recorded version of the test after it’s been taken. The device is purchased by students, and costs somewhere between $100 and $200 in most cases.

Remote proctoring systems may be the best way to assure student identity while keeping the benefits of online education intact; but still, the system isn’t perfect and some students find the costs hard to bear. Online student identification will need to evolve as online education has, to become easy, cost-effective for students and schools, and flexible. With time, hopefully online schools will have a more effective and cost-efficient way to verify online student identity and prevent academic fraud.
http://www.distance-education.org/Articles/Does-Your-Instructor-Know-It-s-You–Issues-in-Verifying-Online-Student-Identities–234.html#.T4pas5U6vq0.email

ABC News has a good report, A Cheating Crisis In America’s Schools

So far, there are no reports of colleges frisking students before they take their exams.

Related:

Accountability in virtual schools                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/accountability-in-virtual-schools/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Cheating in schools goes high-tech

21 Dec

Some colleges in an attempt to curb academic dishonesty on campus are beginning to employ methods one has usually associated with Las Vegas casinos. Minnesota State University Mankato has an excellent newsletter article about academic dishonesty. Richard C. Schimming writes in Academic Dishonesty

A recent survey found that 1/3 of all students admitted to cheating on an examination, 1/2 admitted to cheating on a class assignment, 2/3 admitted to cheating at least once during their college career, and 2/3 have seen classmates cheat on exams or assignments. Paradoxically, 3/4 of those in that survey believe that cheating is not justified under any circumstances. Finally, 1/2 of the students surveyed believe that the faculty of their university do not try to catch cheaters….

The various reasons that students give for cheating can also be instructive in obtaining a picture of academic dishonesty. Gleaned from a variety of sources, the list of student reasons for cheating given below is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive:

  1. Today’s generation of student has less of an attachment to the institution so that cheating is more impersonal and seen as less painful because of this detachment.
  2. The difficult job market places a premium on a high grade point average so that any means necessary will be employed to achieve and maintain good grades.
  3. Some students believe that professors are cheating them in the classroom by shirking their teaching responsibilities. Therefore, students come to believe that turnabout is fair play.
  4. New entering students find themselves in courses beyond their capability so they resort to cheating to succeed in the course.

The metaphors and social constructs provided by students in surveys can also provide insight into the rationale for academic dishonesty. In one recent study, students used the following metaphors for cheating:

  1. Cheating is just a game, so that it is not important how you win but what is important is that you win.
  2. Cheating is an addiction. Once a student has successfully cheated in some academic context, the urge to continue can become addicting.
  3. Cheating is an easy out. Rather than working hard to master the material, a student can be tempted to use the shortcut of academic dishonesty.
  4. Cheating is a personal dilemma. Students do not begin to cheat because they are ignorant of the potential consequences. Rather the decision to cheat is a difficult decision for most students.
  5. Cheating is theft. The act of cheating robs the institution, the professor, the cheating student, and the other students.
  6. Cheating is a team effort. Cheating does not occur in a vacuum. Where there is a culture that condones cheating and where a student sees other students cheating, academic dishonesty is more likely to flourish.

For some students, cheating starts early. By the time some kids reach college they have already established a pattern of cheating. ABC News has a good report, A Cheating Crisis in America’s Schools

B.A. Birch has posted ‘e-Cheating’ Students Harness High-Tech Tools at Education News:

A new study by Common Sense Media has found that more than 35% of teens ages 13 to 17 with cellphones have used the devices to cheat.

52% of those polled admitted to some form of cheating involving the Internet.

Earlier this year, Omar Shahid Khan, 21, an Orange County student, pleaded guilty to stealing Advanced Placement tests and altering college transcripts. Khan is said to have hacked into the school’s grading system by installing spyware on school computers.

“This is about the pressures that kids are feeling in school,” says Jill Madenberg, a Great Neck, N.Y., college consultant.

“The pressure to do well, the pressure to get into a good college… It’s literally all over the country — it’s an epidemic of sorts.”

cheating cases, they’re just making it harder to detect.

“The naïve folk belief is that cheating never used to be a problem,” Bramucci says.

http://www.educationnews.org/technology/e-cheating-students-harness-high-tech-tools/

Trip Gabriel has an interesting article in the New York Times about the University of Central Florida’s attempts to defeat cheaters. In To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery Gabriel reports about the attempts of the University of Central Florida to stop cheating. Since cheating has become an issue at college campuses, just like bacon and eggs, next comes the study.

Sora Song of Time.Com discusses the inevitable study in the article, Profiling Student Cheaters: Are they Psychopaths?

Psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that students who cheated in high school and college were likely to meet the criteria for psychopathic personality – the type that tends toward a range of bad behaviors, like alcohol and drug abuse, bullying and reckless driving. It’s the same impulsive, callous and antisocial personality that characterizes criminal psychopaths, though, to be fair, student cheaters scored a lot lower on psychopathy questionnaires than actual criminal offenders. (More on Time.com: Video: Giving Dropouts a Second Chance)

The researchers found that academic cheaters also scored high in two other personality traits: narcissism (people who suffer from grandiosity, self-centeredness and an outsized sense of entitlement) and Machiavellianism (cynical, amoral types who make it a habit to manipulate others). But of the three disordered personalities – together known colorfully as the Dark Triad – psychopathy was the only trait significantly associated with student cheating.

The new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, describes the results of a series of three studies involving nearly 600 college students. (Read a PDF of the paper here.) In each, the volunteers were asked to fill out anonymous personality questionnaires; some participants also took tests of intelligence. Personality questions included: “I like to be the center of attention” (i.e., I may be a narcissist), “It’s hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there” (Machiavellianism), and “I have attacked someone with the goal of hurting them” (psychopathy).

The conclusion of the study is that the only thing which can be done is to make it impossible for the psychopath to cheat, since they obviously have no impulse control and an appeal to values doesn’t work. One of the frightening prospects highlighted by the article is that it is possible to screen for psychopathic traits in people, but it probably wouldn’t be ethical for schools to do so. So, like the chicken and the egg riddle, society is back at placing the emphasis on strong families, values, and a K-12 education which sets some perimeters. Something to think about.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©