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Colleges Stepping Up Anti-Cheating Technology

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the spy-vs.-spy dept.

Education 439

Bruce Schneier's blog highlights a New York Times piece on high-tech methods for detecting student cheating. Schneier notes, "The measures used to prevent cheating during tests remind me of casino security measures." "No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student's speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside. The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot. Scratch paper is allowed — but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student's real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence." The Times article quotes from research published a few months back suggesting that the more you copy homework, the lower your grades.

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439 comments

*fart* (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851016)

*faaaaaaaaaaaaaaart* That's what I think of Bruce Schneier's constant whining.

Hmmm ... (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#32851024)

So these schools are buying solutions to their problem of students cheating rather than figuring it out themselves? Isn't that what they're trying to prevent? /sarcasm

Re:Hmmm ... (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32851554)

I went to a Polytechnic, so it was really difficult to cheat, in that most of our grade was made up of group projects and VERY-hands-on timed exams. First year, finals consisted of being given 1 regular Linksys Router, 2 desktops (1 with a fully configured running Windows machine), cabling tools and supplies, a port to the internet, and 2 discs, one of WinServ2K3 and the other was Fedora Core 4, and an HP Printer.

The end result was to have the Windows computer host a virtual server through VMware running the Windows 2003 Server, which had to host active Directoy and a print server, and act as a router for traffic on a specified Class C subdomain. The Linksys router had to act as a router for a Class B subdomain, which the Fedora Desktop had to be on. The end result was that both the host Windows machine and the fedora machine had to be able to print a document. The internet port was for general debugging purposes, though they had blocked every site except the Polytechnic Campuses website (so no Googling!).

You had the whole day (8 hours), If you got it done in the first 4 hours, you guaranteed passed, any longer and the teacher would gauge your progress and how you have things set up. It was the most intimidating test I've ever taken, though I passed - the only way you could cheat really is if you watched someone else and managed to follow them step by step, but then you might run the risk of making the same mistakes they did (and there were mistakes made by just about everyone. I remember getting stuck on having my Fedora Box access the webs properly, linux was not my strong suit*.)

And really, you can't cheat in making a cable, plain and simple - either you know how to do it or you don't. You can't exactly pick up another students cable and look at their colouring scheme without getting noticed. All in all, I think all tests should be done in a hands-on way. We had the benefit of a small class size (maybe 20 students) so I can understand it being impractical for those big 100 people lectures at the university, but really its the best way to cut out cheating. Also, for an arts degree, I wouldn't even know where to start. All they ever do is write endless essays.

Anyways - I got a little side tracked there.

Our Prof - whom was nicknamed Lord of the Strings because he was a bit short and chubby like a hobbit, was commissioned by the Dean of the local university (why they didn't use their own IT/IS/CS department I don't know) to write an application that went through the internet and compared papers to help catch plagiarizing. He even showed us the code, which was quite impressive - almost overwhelming when you are first starting in programming.

You enter in the topic of the paper.
It went through the top lists of essay sites (which you could add or remove sites), and the first 2 pages worth of Google results for the words involved in the topic.
Then it went through a statistical analysis on how similar some papers were. It could easily detect word for word copying, but he also had it set up to detect whether 1 or 2 words in a sentence were changed, and/or if the structure was simply reworked a little. At the end, it would give you a percentage on how much of the paper looked like it was just taken from online. It was then up to the prof to determine if that percentage was high enough to warrant further investigation. It also generated a report based on what sites it found the correlation.

I guess what I'm eventually trying to say is...

Who cheats anymore? You're almost guaranteed to get caught.

Re:Hmmm ... (1, Redundant)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#32851590)

Ha, I forgot my * I put up there about my linux issues

*I spent more time looking at Man pages than anything else in that exam.

Re:Hmmm ... (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#32851586)

It's okay for colleges to copy so long as they pay the money upfront. ;-)

"the more you copy homework, the lower your grades." - I disagree. If the homework is worth 10% of your grade, then it's better to copy rather than run out of time and never turn it in (a zero). I recall in my engineering classes most of us copied, not because we wanted to, but because the profs so overloaded us with homework that it was impossible to get it all finished.

It was ridiculous - about 10 hours of homework/week for a 3 or 4 credit class. Typical 18 credit load is 50 hours just on homework. Plus 18 hours for the lectures. Plus 10-20 hours on labwork. == 80-90 hours per week!

Hmmm... on second thought maybe they were trying to prepare us for the Real World Suck of 60-70 hour weeks.

It's not cheating! (4, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#32851030)

It's being a 'team player'.

I say let them cheat (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#32851038)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

Re:I say let them cheat (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#32851044)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

And the company goes: "Well I'm not hiring anyone from THAT university again".

The schools do have an incentive to curtail cheating.

Re:I say let them cheat (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851202)

Schools also have an ethical responsibility to ensure that graduates actually have the skills/knowledge that the degree implies.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Wolfraider (1065360) | about 4 years ago | (#32851390)

And that is usually done through tests

Re:I say let them cheat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851480)

Schools also have an ethical responsibility to ensure that graduates actually have the skills/knowledge that the degree implies.

Really?

Source, please.

Re:I say let them cheat (3, Funny)

grepya (67436) | about 4 years ago | (#32851064)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

From TFA:
“Copying homework is a leading indicator of becoming a business major,”

      I leave the punchlines to the public....

Re:I say let them cheat (4, Insightful)

Monchanger (637670) | about 4 years ago | (#32851168)

Unfortunately business majors are usually the ones doing the hiring.

Re:I say let them cheat (2, Informative)

frizop (831236) | about 4 years ago | (#32851070)

As if to say they are usually taught anything they need to know for their job anyway.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 years ago | (#32851090)

Which isn't much different when entering the real world when you weren't cheating... for nearly all bachelor degrees everything can be figured out on the fly.

Re:I say let them cheat (5, Insightful)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | about 4 years ago | (#32851284)

Earlier in my career I had great disdain for an aspect of my company's culture that seemed to venerate degreed folk simply because of the degree denying or holding back promotions of clear subject matter experts simply because they did not have the degree usually appropriate for that level. True to form, I was promoted immediately after getting my Masters. Nonetheless, I really did believe most of what we did could be trained "on the fly".

Then something changed.

I had the opportunity to mentor someone who hadn't yet finished a Bachelors degree.

I showered them with documentation, with web-based training, with tutorials and direct training. It didn't help. Others may have done well. This individual couldn't, on their own, complete the most basic assignments and froze instead of using many avenues to overcome problems or misunderstandings.

It's not a matter of what you learned to get your degree. It's that you learned how to learn. Completing a degree demonstrates your ability to complete a long-term project presumably with all the initiative, time-management and general project planning that entails.

Cheating your way through short-cuts all of that.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

miggyb (1537903) | about 4 years ago | (#32851474)

I used to be in that same position, but then man man changed my life.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 4 years ago | (#32851604)

I used to be in that same position, but then man man changed my life.

I tried to figure out what man man does, but I had some problems. Can you help me?
$ man man man
--Man-- next: man(1) [ view (return) | skip (Ctrl-D) | quit (Ctrl-C) ]
q^C

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

CODiNE (27417) | about 4 years ago | (#32851562)

Yeah but how do you find the worthy people with those skills who didn't have the chances to go to such a university?

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

toastar (573882) | about 4 years ago | (#32851118)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

Yes, But unlike Schools, Most Jobs don't care if you cheat.

In fact copying a successful peers work is likely to get me a raise in the real world.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | about 4 years ago | (#32851258)

Unless your job involves creating original work. In the tech world, emulating existing/proven network designs, hardware configurations and software installations leads to a stable environment and a happy boss. But if you're a software engineer, copying everyone else's code and pretending it's your own isn't good form. If you take multiple (attributed) objects and combine them in a new way to do something useful, That's good form, but avoiding citing your sources can lead to very unpleasant discussions later on. As a tech at a government funded state high school, my boss and I regularly ask for ideas/examples from other schools, and copy what works, modifying if necessary for our environment. The Education Department already paid for the idea to be developed by one of the other technicians, it only makes sense to get as much value out of it as possible.

Re:I say let them cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851262)

We are all at risk, of frustration and worse, whenever someone cheats his way into a position he is not competent to fulfill.

Maybe. Maybe not. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#32851328)

A college degree doesn't make anyone an expert in anything. You just learn the basics and the real learning comes on the job; hence why so many employers want people with experience and why there's still a few who don't even require a degree. Even then, many times, you'll be getting a job in a field completely irrelevant from your area of study. I can't even begin to count the number of people with engineering degrees who were writing business applications with me when they had maybe one programming class as an undergrad.

The other thing is, let's face it, a degree is really a ticket into the white collar work world - sometimes. (Look at the authors for Fine Homebuilding and you'll see a lot of BAs who went into the trades because they couldn't get an office job.)

A real education would be a liberal arts or science degree - just about every other degree is really training for a trade: engineer, accountant, programmer, etc... or a stepping stone to a higher paying trade: lawyer, doctor, or some other professional certification.

A college degree is pretty much corporate drone training; unless, you come from a wealthy family that can afford for you to got to school a become a 'refined' person.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | about 4 years ago | (#32851394)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

This is an idea I agree with in theory, except that it assumes their incompetence gets found out early enough to avoid real-world damage to innocent parties. That is to say, sure, they'll be paying for it, but everyone else might, too. For instance, in the case of a building engineer, I can only HOPE they get found out before the structurally unsound houses they design get built. Or that the braindead network administrator's lack of decent security knowledge is discovered and dealt with before the network turns into someone else's botnet.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 4 years ago | (#32851396)

I agree the University does have a responsibility to make sure cheating does not happen plus the University has a reputation to maintain that the students know what there doing and are skilled at there trades. But yes in the long run cheating will not pay off because they will suffer at there jobs.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Bryansix (761547) | about 4 years ago | (#32851404)

That doesn't work in the real world. In the real world your boss may not even be in the same field as you and they have no basis to know if you are actually good or just bullshitting.

Re:I say let them cheat (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851430)

I wouldn't have a problem with cheating if the schools actually taught anything anymore. Certainly more than half of what I'm doing now is still reading out of a book and then taking a test on it, something that anyone with reading skills and free time can do. Actually, if they did teach things, it would also make it extremely difficult to cheat, so it would be a self-correcting problem.

Re:I say let them cheat (2, Insightful)

mewyn (663989) | about 4 years ago | (#32851460)

Hell no. Being in a highly competitive degree program at one of the best schools in the nation for it, cheaters not only hurt themselves in the long run, but everyone else in the class. In my analog signals class, there is a large contingent that cheats on the homework and artificially inflates their grades. This class is also heavily curved, and since analog signals are not my strong suit, I ended up getting bit by the cheaters by dragging my letter grade down.

Cheaters in a university very rarely hurt just themselves.

Re:I say let them cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851478)

and in the meantime, you don't have that job because some poser with the paper applied for it first?

Nah, screw 'em.

Re:I say let them cheat (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 4 years ago | (#32851542)

Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

No, We'll all be paying for it because those losers will be playing musical chairs with companies; learning to look good in interviews, but making us do their work until they're terminated.

Slippery slope... (2, Funny)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | about 4 years ago | (#32851058)

Before you know it, all student financial records will be audited to make sure they haven't bought anything from Thinkgeek during their academic careers.

Why would Bruce Schneier worry about this? (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#32851062)

Bruce Schneier already knows Alice AND Bob's secret; all he has to do to detect cheating is eye a test taker until their lies burst into flames. Nothing hides from Bruce Schneier... Nothing.

Re:Why would Bruce Schneier worry about this? (0, Offtopic)

broknstrngz (1616893) | about 4 years ago | (#32851400)

Except for Chuck Norris.

Re:Why would Bruce Schneier worry about this? (1)

kenrblan (1388237) | about 4 years ago | (#32851500)

Chuck Norris hides from nothing and nobody.

Hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851066)

All professors who authorize such measures should have their entire academic careers examined very carefully... how do we know they didn't get to where they are by cheating?

If you wouldn't agree to it yourself, why would you inflict it upon others?

Re:Hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#32851322)

If you wouldn't agree to it yourself, why would you inflict it upon others?

Because university degrees granted by the university would become worthless otherwise. A degree claims that you've learned certain things. If a university develops a reputation for effectively rooting out cheaters, then its degrees will be more valuable than those of a university where cheating is perceived to be rampant.

As to the hypocrisy of the thing, be sure to tell your concerns to your potential employers too, so they don't hire you by accident. You seem to value some skewed illusion of fairness more than whether you get anything of value out of the deal. If I were an employer, I'd have to ask myself, "How will you screw me over to fulfill your idea/illusion of fairness?" Will you steal and sell off my IP because others don't have it yet? Will you steal valuable equipment because it's not fair that you or some needy person you know doesn't have them? Will you slack off because it's not fair that you work harder than someone else? Will you demand more privileges because the senior workers have them?

Life isn't fair nor can it meet the demands of what we think fairness should be. Do you really believe that fairness, or rather the appearance of fairness, is more important than a good, solid education?

Reward them (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851072)

You know what, if a student is capable of developing a pen-camera just to cheat on a test. Let him pass. There is a very good chance by the time he leaves school he'll be creating even better technology. God knows the West needs the innovation.

Re:Reward them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851196)

You can buy pen cameras for twenty bucks...

Re:Reward them (2, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | about 4 years ago | (#32851244)

They already exist, no need to develop one to cheat with. Any moron could use one.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/techies/c521/ [thinkgeek.com]

Re:Reward them (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32851356)

Consider we're probably less than a decade away from having all kind of tech built into a pair of spectacles and the issue becomes deeper. Next we'll be forcing people to have eye tests before their real tests. Maybe we should all test naked, just in case. Come to think of it, overhead cameras and female students sound like a recipe for all kinds of lawsuit-based fun.

Re:Reward them (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | about 4 years ago | (#32851272)

I think they're more worried about people just buying gear, not hacking it together.

Surprising! (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 4 years ago | (#32851092)

"The more you copy homework, the lower your grades."

No shit, Sherlock! Does that mean that if I don't think by myself I will not really learn? Wow! Who would guess that!

Re:Surprising! (5, Insightful)

djconrad (1413667) | about 4 years ago | (#32851122)

"The more you copy homework, the lower your grades."

No shit, Sherlock! Does that mean that if I don't think by myself I will not really learn? Wow! Who would guess that!

Certainly not my undergraduates.

Re:Surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851426)

The problem happens WAY before they get to this level. They are already well versed on how to skim thru classes. The 'no cheating' needs to be pushed top to bottom K thru 12+. Any less and you will just be pissing in the wind.

Parents need to realize that bullying your kids teachers is not helping them. You kid screwed up and now they need to face the consequences.

Re:Surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851440)

One of my students submitted as her own work a photocopy of another student's work (including the other student's name). It's as if she thought I was as stupid as she was.

Re:Surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851494)

"The more you copy homework, the lower your grades."

No shit, Sherlock! Does that mean that if I don't think by myself I will not really learn? Wow! Who would guess that!

Certainly not my undergraduates.

You aren't giving them enough credit. They understand this simple concept; they do not care. How many of them are there to fill a check box on their resume that has become all-but-required now to get past HR drones?

I guess I'm old fashioned (4, Insightful)

jfoobaz (1844794) | about 4 years ago | (#32851100)

I think of the purpose of education as getting an education. If you don't ever learn the material well enough to pass exams on your own, it's kind of a waste of time.

And, yeah, I get that people work for grades and the piece of paper at the end of the whole thing, but if you didn't actually learn anything apart from how to cheat well, you missed the whole point. Though you probably stand to have a lucrative career in international finance.

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

Ekuryua (940558) | about 4 years ago | (#32851160)

Is it? At least for me, most of the work I do I learned out of school. School I only did to get diplomas and degrees to get the job in the first place. It's not so much education anymore as just a way to prove you're smart enough to matter.(and even that part is not so true, since dumb overachievers will do better than lazy smart people most of the time)

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851174)

If someone "dumb" is doing better than you, you are most likely not as smart as you think you are.

mod parent up (1)

jfoobaz (1844794) | about 4 years ago | (#32851210)

If someone "dumb" is doing better than you, you are most likely not as smart as you think you are.

Exactly.

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 years ago | (#32851232)

If someone "dumb" is doing better than you, you are most likely not as smart as you think you are.

Paris Hilton is doing better than you.

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851310)

Good job ignoring the context of my reply, which was the academic achievements of twn, too peoplemake your lame attempt at a refutation. *golf clap*

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 4 years ago | (#32851352)

Paris Hilton is smarter than you.

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#32851286)

"getting an education" != "passing an exam".
Passing a test requires only the regurgitation of information. That's learning only in the most superficial sense (like how one would teach a toddler their alphabet).

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

jfoobaz (1844794) | about 4 years ago | (#32851398)

"getting an education" != "passing an exam".

No shit.

However, to pass the exam, you presumably had to have at least crammed enough information in your brain to be able to perform the aforementioned regurgitation. If you're not even bothering to put in that level of effort (or god forbid, actually fucking learn something), schooling is totally wasted on you.

And it's not just exams kids cheat on - they buy papers or massively crib content from Wikipedia and other sources without attribution, etc. Researching and writing a paper on a subject is a key way you become proficient in the material and learn to apply it. Again, I'm old fashioned, I guess, because my interest in schooling is learning something rather than getting some grades.

Re:I guess I'm old fashioned (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 4 years ago | (#32851626)

I guess, because my interest in schooling is learning something rather than getting some grades.

Totally agree with that. But in my experience formal schooling is the polar opposite of learning (at least for everyone I've met). Schooling has a linear style and for the most part only teaches what is required to pass the exam(s). It's disturbing to watch my coworkers with their BS's and MBA's struggle to form opinions and define principles....

It's actually kind of impressive... (2, Insightful)

sarkeizen (106737) | about 4 years ago | (#32851114)

I've worked for educational institutions and in one case I recall them attempting to deploy an anti-cheating countermeasures and got shouted down by students. Also given that many public institutions are compensated by degree completion working against cheating costs the institution not just for the price of technology but in the lost tuition and public funding. To me, this seems like an institution who cares about the quality of their student's education.

Re:It's actually kind of impressive... (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32851386)

Of course, if they cared just a bit more they'd spend all the money they're using to catch cheats on helping struggling/lazy students so they didn't need to cheat in the first place.

Maybe Find a Better University (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | about 4 years ago | (#32851126)

If your university finds it necessary to go to such lengths to prevent cheating maybe you should take that as a sign to find a better university.

Re:Maybe Find a Better University (2, Informative)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about 4 years ago | (#32851162)

Exactly. My college had an honor system. We'd have take home tests and stuff. If you were caught cheating, you got kicked out of school, plain and simple. They did boot about a dozen people a year, so the cost/benefit of cheating meant you took that D and worked harder the next time.

What a waste. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851158)

It's a waste for cheaters to go this far. Hidden cameras? Using gum to hide conversations? Word macros? If you're going to go to that much effort to cheat, why not just put that effort into learning what you're supposed to?

But the bigger waste is all these measures to stop cheaters. Sure it will reflect poorly on your school if you have rampant cheating, but a) if you have an epidemic of cheating maybe you should ask why and b) if it's only a few cheaters why not let them go? They're only hurting themselves in the end. Spending so much money and effort on anti-cheating measures screams to me that you don't trust any students. Even though that's really not the case (I hope), what kind of a message is that to send to potential students? "We're going to watch you like a hawk the whole time you're here." Sorry, that's no way to treat people.

It's better to have students that don't cheat (2, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#32851176)

At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

If some folks want to cheat, they will find a way: Chewing gum or no chewing gum. With such measures, you will only force the cheaters to be more creative. Try to teach them values so that they will know that it is wrong instead.

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (3, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | about 4 years ago | (#32851294)

At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

I think I would be offended at having to affirm that I am not a cheater. Cheaters, on the other hand, wouldn't care.

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851552)

"I think I would be offended at having to affirm that I am not a cheater."

For those that are absolutely honest, these sorts of things are offensive. But then again, you are probably also offended by speed limits too where you know what is safe to drive, you don't act like an ass, you don't drive aggressively, etc...

I know I am.

Having worked in the field of education (along with grad degrees in psychology), affirming this DOES do a lot...it gets the vast majority of the people in the middle...the ones that aren't complete cheats, but if push comes to shove and they realize there is a motivated need to excel, they may 'bend the rules'.

There are far more of these students than there are the very honest or dishonest.

So don't feel offended...these affirmations are not for you. They are to protect people like you.

BTW -- I never cheated in High School, College or Grad School. I know of those that did, there are two doctors, a state supreme court member, a guy that runs a NPO. None of these people seem to be bad people...I still talk to one. But they all cheated because they were very motivated to do their best. I am offended that people like them got great grades while I did average -- yet we pretty much knew exactly the same material. Maybe I just wasn't motivated enough...

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 4 years ago | (#32851428)

I still remember it from Michigan:

I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this examination, nor have I concealed any violations of the Honor Code.

I'm not sure it's ultimately as effective as clamping down on all the possible ways people might come up with to cheat, but I found it very effective. I liken it to a parent who doesn't get upset or raise their voice, but you know exactly how hurt they really are. I had a professor from Stanford who actually left the room whenever an examination was given. If you wanted to cheat, it basically gave you the green light, but I'm not aware of anyone who did.

In the end, most of us take it seriously, learn an important lesson, and take the test honestly, but the problem is obviously the people who undermine the system and come out ahead. I might be naive, but I still think they'll get exactly what they have coming when they enter the real world.

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 4 years ago | (#32851448)

At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

I've encountered similar things in the past. They usually left me with two questions:

1. Does my signing this change anything?
2. What happens if I don't sign it?

Though I didn't cheat, I would daydream up conversations like "Son, we caught you cheating" Me: "No, no, it's okay, I didn't sign the honor code."

I viewed pieces of paper like that as irritating bureaucratic hoops that I had to jump through to move on.

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (1)

sirrunsalot (1575073) | about 4 years ago | (#32851598)

1. Does my signing this change anything?

I think it varies from place to place. Of course they can still follow the same actions if you didn't sign it, but I think it's their way of preventing people from playing dumb and pretending they didn't realize they'd get kicked out if they cheated. Or get "cheating" marked on their transcripts. Or fail the class. So maybe it just reduces the number/efficacy of tear-filled pleas for mercy.

2. What happens if I don't sign it?

Some places you have to sign it for your work to be graded. Of course they'll probably only track you down over it if there's a suspected violation.

I never thought of it as bureaucratic. It certainly wouldn't have been hard to cheat, but I took pride in signing it and having my institution basically take my word for it. It's when they go over the top to prevent it that I lose respect for myself since they obviously don't think too highly of their students.

you cheated (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 4 years ago | (#32851484)

you described new jersey as scenic

Re:It's better to have students that don't cheat (1)

miggyb (1537903) | about 4 years ago | (#32851526)

I bet you read through EULAs all the way through too, right? It's pointless to have that signature. I've considered what they would do to me if I just refused to sign it. Clearly that wouldn't be evidence enough that I had cheated or helped someone cheat, and even if it did they wouldn't be able to reprimand me since I didn't sign it. And if they can reprimand me for cheating without signing the honor code, then why do they have me sign it in the first place?

Retarded (5, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 years ago | (#32851178)

They'll never stop people from cheating. They'll catch a few idiots and an equal number of innocent people. They'll raise the tension so much for the average student that they'll have to double their suicide watch programs during finals week. They'll still have a bunch of students who get away with it. Most importantly, they'll be so confident in their success that they'll do what academia does best - pat themselves on the back for wasting money while being completely oblivious to those who are outsmarting them.

Tests and anti-cheating measures are the lazy way to go about "education". But what do you expect when the most egregious cheaters, plagiarizers, and bullshitters are the professors themselves?

Write your own lectures.
Write your own tests and assignments.
Change them every year.
Change them if you have multiple testing sessions.
Don't copy them from the campus where your other professor friend works.
Don't pull shit out of the book you wrote for the class and made students buy.
Don't make students buy the book of your cohort^h^h^h^h^h^h colleague on another campus and have him reciprocate the favor, only for both of you to teach to your opinions and not what's in the assigned material.
Get TAs that speak English.
Speak English.
Respond to emails.
Update your website.
Post notes and assignments when you say you will.
Hold more than 1 office hour per week. Understand the material yourself.
Etc.

Re:Retarded (3, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | about 4 years ago | (#32851466)

Listen, If you're going to make sense and ask people to do their jobs properly, I'm going to have to ask you to leave /.

And the Internet in general.

Re:Retarded (1)

drewhk (1744562) | about 4 years ago | (#32851580)

I fully agree.

Do they really think it's cheating? (5, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#32851184)

My brother in law, an economics professor, recently had to grade a paper from the freshman class he was teaching. He found that virtually every paper had the same ideas in the same sequence, and frequently the exact same wording (I.E. cut-and-paste). Even more interesting, and disturbing, he found that by comparing the texts they could be roughly grouped by the race of the student.

His theory is that the current generation is so used to forwarding, re-tweeting, re-blogging, and re-posting that they literally don't see it as cheating.

Re:Do they really think it's cheating? (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#32851318)

that and we have these things called study groups where people learn together. and the fact that there is only so many opinions you can form about any subject

Re:Do they really think it's cheating? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#32851320)

Well, then a short, ten minute talk with the student should be able to determine if the student simply cut and pasted, or if he or she really understands what they wrote in the paper.

I think a good prof should be able to determine that.

But maybe profs these days don't have enough time for their students.

Re:Do they really think it's cheating? (1)

yerxa (107176) | about 4 years ago | (#32851556)

Some professors use online plagiarism detection services like TurnItIn.

But what I have noticed is beyond the originality check to ensure the author/student didn't plagiarize another students work little effort goes into grading the paper. I am sure random semi-coherent words using a subset of subject specific key words could easily get a 'A' or better and not really be of any value to the student's learning process.

G

wow (1)

psm321 (450181) | about 4 years ago | (#32851206)

So glad I went to a school with an honor code where people are not assumed to be criminals by default.

Re:wow (2, Informative)

Chemicles (771024) | about 4 years ago | (#32851454)

Amen to that. The University of Michigan's College of Engineering has an honor code such that the professors and TAs are not even allowed in the room while the students are taking an exam. It'll show in your work if you cheated your way to a degree, especially in engineering. I'm curious what other universities have such policies.

And yes, universities do have an incentive to reduce cheating (they don't want other graduates to suffer from guilt by association) but like you said, it's nice not to be treated like a criminal by default.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851558)

Funny, I went to a school with an honor code and I found that the sheer existence of an honor code and us being forced to sign it did presume us guilty by default.

Being compelled to assert in writing that you will not cheat says to me that they assume you will cheat otherwise.

But what will they DO when they catch someone? (1)

sheepofblue (1106227) | about 4 years ago | (#32851236)

When I was in school I talked with a couple of instructors (I tended to finish tests early) that pointed to specific students that were cheating. Guess what the punishment was? Nothing is the correct answer. What the schools need to teach is accountability and that is the exact opposite of how the self esteem factories that have been created function. That includes the teachers at the grade school level who are virtually unaccountable once tenure is obtained.

Re:But what will they DO when they catch someone? (1)

chemisus (920383) | about 4 years ago | (#32851402)

As a student of UCF (the university in the article) they actually do punish students if caught cheating. Not that I personally know of any case of it happening, but I have heard of it happening. You can view the academic policiy here [ucf.edu] .

Give it up with the pointless arms race. (2, Insightful)

areusche (1297613) | about 4 years ago | (#32851246)

I don't know why colleges waste time on pointless technology when there are easier and less expensive methods to stop cheating.

Instead of a 500 person lecture hall bring it down to 30 students. Watch the little bastards during a test. See little Sammy Jean pulling her skirt down in the corner? Move around the room and watch her eyes start darting around as she starts to get nervous. Walk up to her and ask, "Is everything ok?" I bet she'll probably admit to it on the spot.

Students will go and tell their friends what the questions were on a test, don't make us sign some stupid waiver saying we won't because we will. If it bothers the lecture, professor, or god forbid the do-nothing provost, change some of the questions for each section or just stop whining.

It's a pointless arms race where the kids are always going to have the one up. Stop wasting the waste of money and have your professors and TAs walk around and watch the students. Realize that making a good effort to stop 95% of cheaters will work and the other 5% will grow up to work for Lehman Brothers, Citi, or become politicians. Needlessly wasting money on anti-cheating or plagiarism tools takes away money from improving services like the shitty food in the dining halls, the rat infested dorms, or having a notable group perform on the weekend prior to finals will make your student population happier and more likely to be donating alumni in the future.

And finally, In my own not so humble opinion, the risk of getting caught just isn't worth blatantly cheating on a test. Most professors will just fail you for the semester which is more than enough of a punishment. There are the few that will go above and beyond the duty to make your life hell (suspension, expulsion), but failing a course is more than enough of an incentive to keep me from cheating.

Phew, I needed a good rant today.

Re:Give it up with the pointless arms race. (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 4 years ago | (#32851384)

While I agree with you that the "ease" of cheating is bolstered by the mass-production style of education where you have 500 people taking a test at the same time, I'm not so sure reducing the test-taking cohorts to 30 students would be more cost effective than the technological solutions they're currently pursuing.

Re:Give it up with the pointless arms race. (1)

RingDev (879105) | about 4 years ago | (#32851438)

I had 4 guys from my ASCS degree get booted from the school after an accusation of plagarism and hacking. 15k in debt and they didn't even have a piece of paper to show for it.

-Rick

Re:Give it up with the pointless arms race. (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | about 4 years ago | (#32851518)

Stop wasting the waste of money and have your professors and TAs walk around and watch the students.

As a TA, I warned them: There will be four of us standing around for three hours with nothing better to do than catch you.

They'd do it anyway, and get caught.

Re:Give it up with the pointless arms race. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32851528)

More importantly, structure your questions in such a way that, even if someone can look up the information, they need to understand it properly to answer. After all, most of what's considered "cheating" could be research. If your test is simple enough that regurgitating what's on Wikipedia will answer it, that's what people will do. Challenge them to use that information in ways that's not readily available and suddenly it doesn't matter where they got the information so much as how they apply it. Hell, I read law and it seemed at least 50% of the marks awarded were on being able to memorise case names and the names of specific laws, stuff you never need to do in practice when you can just go look it up. I have a crap memory, luckily I made up the marks in the other 50% which is how you apply that information. If tests weren't always structured in such a way that someone with access to a list of keywords (and yes, we were told even if you can't answer in full, at least try and bullet-point some keywords on the subject and they might be worth some credit) could reliably pass, you'd get a lot less cheating and a lot more people trying to understand (of course the flip side is you need more money for lecturers/tutors to feed this new desire for knowledge).

I went to the University of Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851254)

and, we had the "honor code". "On my honor as a student, I have neither given nor received aid on this exam." It sounds corny, but it actually worked. Not only was there very little overhead in detecting cheating in the system, but a huge majority of students actually abide by it. It is still something that 20+ years later is part of who I am today. I am thankful for that experience and having it be part of me. Incidentally, it has cost me a very good job but I have no moral qualms about my actions, too.

Anyways, it works, here's a bit more info about it. Or, at least it did 20 years ago for me and the majority of my peers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Virginia#Honor_System

Class Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32851256)

Perhaps they could cut down on a significant amount of cheating if they didn't have class sizes in the hundreds. Smaller class sizes focus more on learning and less on degree mills to make a college rich. Who am I kidding, cram 'em in and buy anti-cheating tools.

Camera in glasses (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | about 4 years ago | (#32851268)

Yeah and what if I put a camera in some fake glasses?

If people with the resources to buy a pen with a camera in it want to cheat, they're going to and there isn't much they can do to stop them.

Why not do peer review? (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#32851298)

Get each class to test and grade each other.

The theory will be they are best placed to honestly appraise the quality of each others' work, and to catch cheating. The practice will be that slutty chicks, trust fundies, jocks and backstabbing weasels will buy, bully or scam the highest relative grades at the expense of the plain, the poor, the timid and the trusting.

And that, class, is how you prepare yourself for surviving the next half-century climbing the greasy pole at AnyCorp Inc. You can't teach lessons like that.

cultural differences (5, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 4 years ago | (#32851330)

I suspect there are serious cultural differences regarding cheating. For example: at my university, the Indian comp-sci students all knew each other and held regular "study sessions." I was once invited to one. I was amazed to observe that it was simply a highly-organized cheating exercise. These guys had graded homework assignments and exams from all classes, and they passed them around, casually copying solutions verbatim to their homework assignments and recording exam answers. They begged me for all of my exams and homework assignments from current and previous tests so that they could add them to their collection. And they didn't see anything wrong with this.

What I found particularly amusing was how amazed they were at my abilities at coming up with solutions when we had non-trivial group projects. "How did you know that would work?" they would ask. I had to try hard to avoid saying "I don't cheat so I have to actually understand the material to pass the classes."

Best way to stop cheat sheets... (5, Insightful)

MadAnalyst (959778) | about 4 years ago | (#32851342)

When I taught, we had a fool proof way to stop illegal cheat sheets. Just let the students bring a cheat sheet. Of course, that made the exams a bit harder. They ended up being less regurgitation and more about comprehension. And proctoring became much easier, fewer things to look for (more time spent scanning for cell phones in use).

Re:Best way to stop cheat sheets... (2, Informative)

jr2k (1434921) | about 4 years ago | (#32851560)

Isn't that what school is about anyways? When I went through Naval Nuclear Power School, you either got the topic or you didn't. Understanding a theory or topic is much more important than memorization. The best students weren't necessarily the best operators.

When we got to the ship, most everything is just book work, but at least we knew the background of what we were doing. No meltdowns yet.

No innovation (1)

lordmetroid (708723) | about 4 years ago | (#32851360)

Am I suppose to believe that the school even with the considerable higher fees as of lately are unable to innovate the education and evaluation of the skills and knowledge of a student. Nay, I believe the schools do have all the means necessary to create other means of evaulation. However they do not need to do so because of their subsidized product that not only have caused higher fees but also obviously a stale product and lack of innovation. Just as expected from a subsidized industry. Instead they decide to implement a surveillence regime treating their customers as criminals. Wait I have seen that pattern before, ohh yes from other subsidized industries such as the media industries which are granted privelegial laws just for their benefit.

Ok this is going to the point of stupidity (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 4 years ago | (#32851370)

This is pretty much just paranoia at the point they are talking. "Nobody can have any idea what is on the test!" Sorry, but you'll have to do better than that. I could go in to said test and come out and from memory give people a fairly accurate rendition of the questions on it. That's just life. You can't have this big secret.

Also, it is a symptom of a shitty test and shitty teaching. If you test relies on nobody knowing what is on it, that means it is just a memorization test. You are having people memorize random facts with no context, and that is why it is so important that nobody reveal what is on it before hand since people could just memorize those. That doesn't test anything worth testing.

A real good test is one that doesn't rely on secrecy. My senior year I took pre calc at the community college since I had a conflict at highschool. There, tests were open note, open book and open teacher. You could go up to the teacher, and ask hm questions. He wouldn't give you the answer to a test question, of course, but he'd help point you in the right direction, answer questions about how various formulas worked, and so on. I learned more in that math class than any other. It showed too, in university they gave us a pre calc test in calc 1, since many students learn it wrong, and a positively aced it, highest score by a wide margin and I am NOT a math whiz.

In the real world, you don't have to do things in a vacuum. You aren't asked to solve problems without any sort of notes or help or whatnot. You are able to call on resources. So a good test is like that, in that it tests your understanding of the material and problem solving ability, the ability to synthesize the material and apply it in novel ways, and doesn't rely on complete secrecy.

In my college days I had a few classes that were like this, and in all cases I learned a great deal. I wasn't focused on trying to memorize a bunch of shit for a test, I was focused on trying to understand the material as a whole.

I understand why, and apply this teaching hs (1)

vsigma (154562) | about 4 years ago | (#32851406)

I totally understand this, and apply similar tactics against my students to prevent cheating in high school science/math...

I have built limited area cell phone signal jammers - it does not damage the phones - just says no service on their phones. I have put up empty usb camera shell casings, along with fiberoptic terminal ends in random places for appearances.

This is in addition to using different coloured paper, different fonts, mixing up the questions - whether different order or multiples for values, limiting calculator usage and other things!

Why? The kids these days apparently cannot live without their mobile devices. Heck, they can't even make it through lab without looking at their cellphones to send a text to someone in the room next door! A lot (but not all) of my kids just want to know what will get them the grade.. there's not a lot of interest for the sake of learning as much at this level anymore. And their idea of what is cheating, and what isn't is vastly skewed from mine.. almost like the whole pirating/plagiarism stuff too! So I have to beat them at their own game, sadly.

Yes, I spend quite a bit of energy prepping homeworks, labs, projects and exams to make sure I have enough different versions to keep things interesting.. most of my colleagues think I am insane for doing so.. but I feel like I'm doing a disservice to the students if I don't do it to keep them focused .. and more importantly, trying as much as they can on their own for as much as they can!

For those of you that will probably comment as to - you're a *&^@#%! teacher who is probably boring.. you know what? There probably are days that I am like that, either because of content of what I have to teach because of requirements, or I am just flat out tired. But I would like to think that I try to keep it interesting by bringing things that I feel kids should see before they finish HS - like liquid nitrogen, napalm, gummi bear rocket fuel, growing silver and so on. But it's uniquely challenging to keep that level up for every class of every day! And when you have a lot of student indifference because they are there only because they are required to do so.. it's just not a great combination.
 

Technology to solve a social problem (3, Insightful)

line-bundle (235965) | about 4 years ago | (#32851420)

will never work.

Humans are ingenious.

The problem for honest students (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32851450)

I never once cheated when I was at university, and am quite proud of that fact. But I hated the fact that *I* had to suffer with these kinds of heavy-handed anti-cheating measures, even though I never once cheated. Taking a test at university was akin to being dragged in for questioning as a murder suspect. No matter how much you tried to establish your innocence, it always felt like every prof viewed you as a criminal, with something to hide. It really made for an adversarial relationship. And it got worse and worse during my time at university too. By my last year, I felt like my prof's would have been happy to frame me on a bogus cheating charge at the drop of a hat. I was presumed guilty.

When I was a T/A (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 years ago | (#32851496)

I taught a circuits lab class when I was in grad school. I eliminated cheating quite easily. I generated an individual test for each student with the exact same problems but different values for the components. I also randomized the order of the questions and used different color paper to create more confusion. For example, I'd hand out 1/4 of the test each in 4 different colors, with no two adjacent students having the same color - to discourage the thought of cheating in the first place.

I'll never forget, though, the time that two students in different sections turned in lab writeups with the exact same measurement data - out to 5 decimal places (because that's what the Keithley meters were set to display).

why is self plagiarism red / black flagged? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#32851532)

why is self plagiarism red / black flagged? and why does turn it in own your work.

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