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Overlooked Way to Address Cheating

Unless you've been in a coma, you know that cheating is a growing problem in education today. Recognizing that reality, Challenge Success, a non-profit organization at the Stanford University School of Education, has identified five ways to address the issue ("The Global Search for Education: What to Do About Cheating?" HuffPost, Nov. 19). I agree with all of their recommendations, which I hope readers will check out.

But I'd like to point out another option that is not mentioned. When students know at the start exactly what the objectives for the class are, they're less likely to resort to cheating. I say that because nothing creates more anger and frustration among students than studying hard only to belatedly learn that what they studied was not being assessed. When this happens, students themselves feel cheated and resort to cheating in return. In contrast, if students are given a clear-cut set of objectives for their classes, they know precisely what is expected of them.

Unfortunately, some teachers engage in what I call pedagogical legerdemain. Teachers who employ this approach keep their students in the dark about the goals of the class, believing that the best students will rise to the occasion and perform well. When this happens, they bemoan the failure of others to do the same. I think this amounts to professional malpractice because teachers are relying on what students bring to the class in the form of inherited IQ and socioeconomic advantages, rather than on what they've taught. In these classes, you can be sure that there is a high likelihood of cheating.

There is no substitute for knowledge of one's subject to be a successful teacher. But it is not enough. Teachers also need to be skilled in the principles of effective instruction. If they were, I think that cheating would be significantly reduced, although never eliminated.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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