Friday, February 11, 2011

Three Little Piggies Cheated

I recently gave my first mid-term exam at the new Big State School University. I caught three students cheating. I already know how I am going to handle it, but I'm inviting comments on what others would do.

The test is in a core class, and I allowed open book, calculators, and notes from the class. Everything else was disallowed. This was mentioned on three separate occasions in class. This is in the syllabus. But even then, three students brought in homework sets and hid them in their notes during the exam. My TA and I discovered these three separate incidences while quietly patrolling the classroom from back to front. We caught the students right at the beginning of the exam, so no damage had been done. We told the each student, "Those materials are not allowed." Each students put the materials away and continued with the exam. Each student was pretty frustrated with me. (I feel no guilt over their frustration, since they were, um, cheating). The official policy is to give the students a zero, but I let the students continue on since I caught them at the beginning.

I've been grading and it's clear that these student will fail themselves out anyway. Catching them cheating just makes me sad, and it makes me embarrassed that I'm at the same school as them!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for coming back!

chall said...

Guess that would be the best way of handling those ones (that they fail without their cheating material and you can write an F on them anyway).

It's sad though. I would've liked to just tell them to leave right away ... not sure I would¨ve done that though, but would've wanted it. If nothing else to make sure they don't try again and not get caught.

I agree that it is sad though. Very sad.

Ewan said...

I'd have kicked them out; if nothing else, to demonstrate to others that you'll do so.

Anonymous said...

if they were allowed to bring their own notes, couldn't they just have copied that onto them? Would that then be ok? I think once you're allowing notes into an exam, it's kind of hard to restrict exactly what is brought.

I took a physics class once where we were allowed a single sheet of paper, anything we wanted. I used to put example problems on mine (from practice exams, etc). One time, I had a question and solution on my sheet that was asked verbatim on the exam (same numbers and everything).

PonderingFool said...

They should be reported to the appropriate office at your school. It is a serious offense that should have serious consequences beyond failing a test. As you mentioned they were going to fail anyway. Failing them is not a penalty then. Basically for a student failing it doesn't hurt to cheat (no risk, going to fail if they don't cheat or if they get caught) with upside (not failing if they cheat and don't get caught). Not to mention, if they are not reported and cheat again in another class, you basically are passing on responsibility to another professor.

prodigal academic said...

I kind of agree with Pondering Fool--I did something similar to you (handled it myself in what I would consider a fair way after consulting with colleagues), but now I regret not notifying the proper channels just in case this is/becomes a pattern for the student(s) involved.