Thursday, September 09, 2004

More Thoughts on Cheating

Yesterday someone (from an IP number of another school) found my course web page from a google search for cheating in math class with a cell phone. The same search will lead you to find this article from 2000.

The Anonymous Lecturer points us to an article about cheating (by Lawrence Hinman) at the college level. Allow me to quote (out of context) one sentence from it:
Our first and most important line of defense against academic dishonesty is simply good teaching.
This statement leaves me uneasy; it has a certain blame the victim sound to it. Is it really possible for me to make math so compelling to all of my students that they will choose to do the very hard work necessary to earn the grades they want? Is it really that simple? When my students cheat, is it really my fault for not being a good enough teacher?

If someone forced me to take a course in History or French or any of a number of other fields, I could be taught by the world's most gifted educator and I would still choose to have the bare minimum interaction with the material to get a grade I could tolerate. I can't imagine I'm the only one like this. My students come from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of preparation, and they have diverse goals and interests. I find the assumption that all academic material has something truly engaging to offer to every student to be a bit naive.

Tomorrow I'm giving the first midterm in my gen-ed class. I've made two versions.