Atlanta’s public schools: Low marks all round. A recently released report from Governor Nathan Deal revealed systemic cheating throughout Atlanta’s school system, not by pupils but by teachers. Of 56 elementary and middle schools examined, 44 had cheating. In total, at least 178 teachers including 38 principals. The scope included everything from giving students answers to pointing to answers while standing over students to letting the low-scoring kids copy from the high-scoring kids to having a “test-changing party” to improve answers.
PS: I took the blog post down after NYU received a “cease and desist” letter, and I was advised by my superiors that I may be liable for legal liabilities if I keep the post up. They could not perform a full legal analysis, and as a precaution they asked me to take the post down. For work-related issues, the employer has the right to restrict “free speech”, a ruling supported by many decisions of the Supreme Court. It made no sense for me to disobey and try to fight the C&D letter by myself.
Panos Ipeirotis — Comment on Business Insider’s “NYU Professor Catches 20% Of His Students Cheating, And He’s The One Who Pays For It” and related to this previous note. I wish we knew more about the thinking within NYU’s administration. Isn’t this what universities are supposed to stand for?
In other words, my theory is: Cheating (on a systematic level) happens because students try to get an edge over their peers/competitors. Even top-notch students cheat, in order to ensure a perfect grade. Fighting cheating is not something that professors can do well in the long run, and it is counterproductive by itself. By channeling this competitive energy into creative activities, in which you cannot cheat, everyone is better off.
Panos Ipeirotis — Why I will never pursue cheating again. A computer scientist teaching in a business school details a year of trying to combat cheating on assignments. Overall, he spent 45 hours addressing the problem during a 32 hour lecture course, and 22 of 108 enrolled students admitted cheating. Solutions could include:
- Public projects – All of the work ends up public, so embarrassment is the deterring factor.
- Peer review – Students have to present their work in class, and are judged by others.
- Competitions – Grades are performance-based (e.g. students build websites to attract the greatest number of unique visitors).
Takeaway: If plagiarism is your biggest worry, you’re doing it wrong.