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Cheating

In teacher blogs one subject I have never come across is cheating by pupils. You may want to file this one under grandmothers and egg-sucking, but here we go. It is an important aspect of classroom management.

Just as some pupils lie (just ask any head of year how brazenly they do so), some cheat. If they are not tackled about it they will cheat often. Given the chance some will cheat in class if their partner's work is in view. They will also cheat by copying homework wholesale from friends. Some are smart enough to try and disguise their cheating by deliberately leaving some differences between their work and that of the person from whom they have copied. Others cheat by using Google Translate.

My experience was that, in nearly all cases, once the pupil had been tackled quite aggressively over the issue, they did not cheat again. Nice Mr Smith became nasty and abrupt Mr Smith. Furthermore, a firm lecture on the issue to the whole class would largely deal with the issue. My pitch to pupils and classes was that I was personally offended by cheating because it was fundamentally dishonest. They were handing in something to me under false pretences and I disliked being hoodwinked.

As well as a good talking-to, I would set extra work so that the student knew cheating would end up costing them more time. A blind eye was never turned.

Google Translate has aggravated the issue, but it is nearly always easy to spot, as all cheating is. Our policy was that if evidence of computer translation was found it would be punished by detention. We put a notice to this effect on classroom walls. It only rarely occurred.

What about the cheatee - one who offered their work for copying? I would not normally not punish them. It is possible that they were coerced. I would make it clear that giving your work to someone else was not acceptable.

And how about that situation where pupils have worked collaboratively on homework during a weekend get-together? In my view this is no better. The pupils concerned are still handing in work as if it were their own. They may (just) think that working together is alright. They need to know that, in most situations, it is not.

So you can see that we had a pretty zero tolerance approach on cheating and i believe that is how it should be. It is one of the fundamental reasons for marking pupils' work and we need to set high moral standards as far as honesty is concerned.




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