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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cheating, Academic Honesty, and Creativity

Academic honesty is hot because of academic competition and high stakes testing. Schools across the nation are wrestling with cheating, and an entire industry has sprouted up around academic honesty. Ipods, Blackberries, graphing calculators, photo phones, text messaging, paper mills, and Ebay have made cheating easier and more sophisticated than ever.

Companies like Turnitin and Caveon offer sophisticated gotcha services to schools for a fee. For example, Turnitin will compare electronic copies of your students’ papers to its database and highlight “lifted” passages. Caveon services include forensics to identify exam cheats.

However, the solution to classroom cheating doesn’t reside in the tech sphere; it resides in the teaching and learning sphere. Creative“plagiarism proof” assignments are critical to restoring academic honesty to our classrooms. Sometimes it is a simple as placing constraints on assignments like utilizing essay templates that force students to synthesize information instead of appropriating online resources.

As for cheating on assessments, vigilance wins the day. That said, Caveon has an informative slide presentation on cheating. The oldies but goodies are there like the rubber band method, but so are the more sophisticated methods too. Anyway, if you are a teacher or administrator it is worth a look.

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