This post began when I saw a piece about the cleverness of some methods of cheating. I think such articles (yes, there is more than one of that sort of thing) more than just amuse while providing a cautionary tale for educators. They illustrate that often the students who are most impressive in their dishonest ingenuity are not “stupid” in any sense of the word. They are clever and smart but scared. They know that their success in the future, and their ability to maintain their scholarships and get their degree, depends on the classic style of all-or-nothing exam that tests your ability to remember information that in the future you’ll generally Google. And so, while I am appalled by academic dishonesty, I also take the responsibility on myself to find exams and other kinds of assignments that test more important things, on which I can let students have access to any resources they like and thus cheating (apart from plagiarism) is eliminated, and the focus is on whether they can find reliable sources of information, understand them as well as things they have read and studied over the semester, and apply them to a specific question in a manner that demonstrates comprehension.
Here are some links related to academic dishonesty, deeper learning, gamification, and other intertwined matters…
Inside Higher Ed had an article about how students can use a popular learning tool to cheat, as well as pieces on student character in university applications and grade hacking.
Stress leads many to cheat, rather than laziness and unwillingness to try to learn. And so that makes this article about the fact that humans work better when not under stress relevant.
Active learning is also another piece in this puzzle, and here is an interesting article about student perception of their learning vs. measurements of their learning:
Another focus that I think has the potential to reduce the possibility of cheating is information literacy. I moved from asking students to remember, to asking students to find reliable sources and explain how they could tell they were reliable. Here are some recent articles related to themes like information literacy, fake news, fact-checking, and digital literacy:
Aeon on the problems with “debunking.” See also:
An example: gluten and popular opinion
Finally, let me say briefly that there is a direct connection between academic honesty, major motivations to disregard it, and gamified approaches to learning and grading. However, there’s so much to be said about that topic that is of interest to me in its own right that I’ll leave saying more about that for a separate post.