Setting up systems to prevent cheating is one of those things that is really important to do but not something you really learn in your education master’s program. Whether your students are taking an in-class assessment, working on their homework, or using a tech product like Albert to study for an exam, cheating is a reality that every teacher has to deal with. We’ve compiled a list of strategies to help teachers prevent cheating and help students understand how cheating is detrimental to the learning process.
Understand the root of cheating.
According to research done at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, there are a few reasons why students cheat.
1. Pressure to Achieve
- This one is obvious but sometimes it’s hard to remember how much pressure teenagers really feel to do well.
2. Unethical/ Misunderstood Collaboration
- Students say they’re “helping each other,” but really, they’re cheating.
3. Abuse of Digital Tools
- With digital tools, many students don’t think cheating is really “cheating.”
- According to research done at Johns Hopkins, 40% of college students considered “digital plagiarism” as either “not cheating or just trivial cheating.”
- This makes it even more important that we teach students to be responsible with tech tools at the high school level.
So, what can you do about it?
1. Celebrate student “failure” and growth
- Listing off the highest scores after every quiz inadvertently creates a space where only high achievement is celebrated.
- Reward students for successes other than good grades. Did they help someone with a tough assignment, use a creative resource to solve a problem, or attempt a quiz/ assignment multiple times to demonstrate improvement?
Celebrating these successes will take pressure off students to do things perfectly the first time, which can eliminate the desire to cheat.
2. Be transparent about why you use tech tools
- Edtech products serve as a resource. They help reinforce information taught in class, can increase confidence, and give teachers insight into what they need to teach, reteach, or deprioritize.
- Explain how cheating defeats the purpose of all of this!
3. Grade for completion first
- Let students get familiar with a platform before grading for accuracy.
- Transition to higher stakes as students know what is expected in terms of performance.
4. Utilize time limits
- If the edtech product enables time limits, use them every so often.
- Under a time constraint, it’s more difficult for students to look up/ share answers.
5. Switch up how you use edtech
- Use it for group work, assignments, quizzes, and homework so students feel really comfortable with the product and less pressure to “perform well” 100% of the time.
- Give a quiz on paper based on an online assignment. If a students bombs it and scored 100% on the assignment, you’ll know something is up.
6. Offer multiple ways to earn credit
- Give students opportunities to do quiz correction and retake assignments.
Don’t be afraid to give different students different ways to earn their grade depending on their skill level.
- Maybe your highest performers need to earn at least an 80% for credit but struggling students can earn credit for attempting an assignment and completing test corrections.
7. Create 2-3 versions of assignments at random times
- This eliminates the need to create multiple versions of assignments all of the time (which is a lot of work).
- But it’s enough to prevent students from cheating once they figure out your tactic.
8. Set expectations around tech use with your students
- Ask students to help you craft a set of “tech use” rules to abide by.
- Students will be more bought into the rules if they help create them.
- Clearly define what cheating looks like and create consequences for cheating.
9. Keep parents in the loop
- Explain how cheating impacts their child’s learning and why it’s important to monitor tech use at home.
If a student is caught cheating, you want the parent to be supportive of the consequences.
10. Give feedback to the tech company if you have an idea on how to improve the product
- Here at Albert, we’ve gotten feedback from teachers about creating randomized question order or a more robust assessment tool.
- Hearing from you helps us figure out how to prioritize these kinds of features.
Remember that building a culture of honesty, accountability, and student ownership comes first. Create a safe space where students feel supported if they fail, and you will deal less with cheating in the first place!