Cheating Q&A: Brad Anderson

Do you have a lot of students that cheat? 

“I say that I trust everyone until I have reason not to. I am sure I have students who, under the cloak of darkness perhaps, cheat. Maybe they don’t think they’re cheating, or maybe they do know it and they’re fine with the risk of reward. I’m sure, like all teachers, I have students who cheat on quizzes or tests. I think I’ve structured my class in a way that it’s kind of hard to cheat on homework because my homework is more or less your notes and readings and knowing your stuff.”

You said maybe students don’t know they’re cheating. How would you define cheating? 

“Passing off anybody else’s work as your own. It can be as simple as copying someone else’s homework and then handing it in for credit. The homework should be to practice and reinforce the skills or lessons learned in class. It’s a shame that homework has become a point or a grade push. Some students would say, ‘well, I need the points.’ In that regard, they might not think of it as cheating, but anytime you’re passing off your someone else’s work as your own, that’s cheap.”

Why do you think that students cheat? 

“The system is set up so that there’s a lot of pressure on kids to achieve, to get a certain grade. An A is no longer this kind of like rare, worked-for, and hard to come by award for you. A is expected. A is almost like average, right? [With] anything lower than an A or an A-, parents get upset. Students, if they’re highly motivated, they get upset. So, know the emphasis on college. Getting the grades you want. Getting the accolades that you want at graduation. That all plays into every little point. Kids have become very good at the accounting of their grades, especially with up-to-the-minute notifications. I’m glad that we don’t have our phones anymore in school because you’d enter a grade and [students would] be right at your desk if it wasn’t a grade they wanted or maybe you put in a typo. And kids would freak out over their grades. So it’s just a sad statement that we’re worried more about grades then we are about learning.”

How do students cheat most often? 

“You know, I don’t know. Obviously in homework, it’s just simple copying. I see it in lunch. You see it in the hallways. In my classroom, at least this year, I’ve really cracked down on that. And I don’t want any other work besides the history in my class. I don’t want math, and I don’t want science, unless it’s the last couple of minutes, which rarely, rarely happens in my class. I’m sure there’s a degree of looking on someone’s paper or having some sort of cheat sheet. I don’t know. I’m not sure. That one’s for the kids to answer.”

How do you think that students should be punished?

“It’s academic dishonesty. At the college level, you could be dropped from the course or receive a D. I’d like to say there’s an across-the-board answer for it. It’s hard to be a detective every single time for every single assignment especially when all the answers are the same. An E for the assignment and a phone call or an email is warranted. [If] there’s repeated offenses, you’ve got to go buy the student handbook. There are some serious ramifications for a student that is caught cheating.”

How is cheating a reflection of a person? 

“I think good kids do things that they’re probably not proud of because maybe they feel pressure to do it, and it does not justify it. It’s a reflection, obviously, on their integrity. [If] you’re cheating on a quiz or a quest, how can I trust you on the larger things? How can you be trusted? It’s kind of like the saying ‘how you do anything is how you do everything.’ And if you cheat on small things, are you going to cheat on the big things too? In life? It becomes a habit. Just like anything, quitting becomes a habit, cheating becomes a habit, stealing becomes a habit. So, you know, ultimately the people who cheat, they may get away with it. They may never get caught. They may never have to answer for it, but ultimately, their achievements are built upon cheating or lying. 

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