Ever wonder if you’re encouraging your students to cheat?

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Cheating in school has been around a long time, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. In fact, studies indicate that cheating is on the rise, especially in high achievers.

When I was teaching, I monitored a study hall. On any given day, I’d find students copying homework or a worksheet. When I’d inquire about this “borrowing” of another student’s work, offenders would often say, “Oh Mrs. so-and-so doesn’t mind; it’s just for review.” I wasn’t in the habit of investigating the validity of that statement, but it made me wonder about cheating.

What do students value?

Once, a student was copying a vocabulary work book activity from a peer. I asked him why he didn’t want to complete it himself. “I just need the points,” he said. “It’s stupid, anyway. It’s just fill in the blank.”

When activities are so ill-conceived that students have no idea of their value, what incentive is there to complete the work, other than points for a grade?

If cheating is a problem, and research says that it is, rather than simply blaming students for being unethical (I used to be a classic blamer), perhaps it’s time for teachers to consider the activities and the arbitrary point values assigned to them.

Then, maybe we’ll see cheating decline.

Mark Barnes is an education author and consultant and the publisher of Brilliant or Insane. Learn more about Mark on our Team page. Follow him on Twitter here.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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