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Colleges Stepping Up Anti-Cheating Technology 439

Posted by kdawson
from the spy-vs.-spy dept.
Bruce Schneier's blog highlights a New York Times piece on high-tech methods for detecting student cheating. Schneier notes, "The measures used to prevent cheating during tests remind me of casino security measures." "No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student's speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside. The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot. Scratch paper is allowed — but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student's real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence." The Times article quotes from research published a few months back suggesting that the more you copy homework, the lower your grades.
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Colleges Stepping Up Anti-Cheating Technology

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:25AM (#32851024)
    So these schools are buying solutions to their problem of students cheating rather than figuring it out themselves? Isn't that what they're trying to prevent? /sarcasm
    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:09PM (#32851554) Journal

      I went to a Polytechnic, so it was really difficult to cheat, in that most of our grade was made up of group projects and VERY-hands-on timed exams. First year, finals consisted of being given 1 regular Linksys Router, 2 desktops (1 with a fully configured running Windows machine), cabling tools and supplies, a port to the internet, and 2 discs, one of WinServ2K3 and the other was Fedora Core 4, and an HP Printer.

      The end result was to have the Windows computer host a virtual server through VMware running the Windows 2003 Server, which had to host active Directoy and a print server, and act as a router for traffic on a specified Class C subdomain. The Linksys router had to act as a router for a Class B subdomain, which the Fedora Desktop had to be on. The end result was that both the host Windows machine and the fedora machine had to be able to print a document. The internet port was for general debugging purposes, though they had blocked every site except the Polytechnic Campuses website (so no Googling!).

      You had the whole day (8 hours), If you got it done in the first 4 hours, you guaranteed passed, any longer and the teacher would gauge your progress and how you have things set up. It was the most intimidating test I've ever taken, though I passed - the only way you could cheat really is if you watched someone else and managed to follow them step by step, but then you might run the risk of making the same mistakes they did (and there were mistakes made by just about everyone. I remember getting stuck on having my Fedora Box access the webs properly, linux was not my strong suit*.)

      And really, you can't cheat in making a cable, plain and simple - either you know how to do it or you don't. You can't exactly pick up another students cable and look at their colouring scheme without getting noticed. All in all, I think all tests should be done in a hands-on way. We had the benefit of a small class size (maybe 20 students) so I can understand it being impractical for those big 100 people lectures at the university, but really its the best way to cut out cheating. Also, for an arts degree, I wouldn't even know where to start. All they ever do is write endless essays.

      Anyways - I got a little side tracked there.

      Our Prof - whom was nicknamed Lord of the Strings because he was a bit short and chubby like a hobbit, was commissioned by the Dean of the local university (why they didn't use their own IT/IS/CS department I don't know) to write an application that went through the internet and compared papers to help catch plagiarizing. He even showed us the code, which was quite impressive - almost overwhelming when you are first starting in programming.

      You enter in the topic of the paper.
      It went through the top lists of essay sites (which you could add or remove sites), and the first 2 pages worth of Google results for the words involved in the topic.
      Then it went through a statistical analysis on how similar some papers were. It could easily detect word for word copying, but he also had it set up to detect whether 1 or 2 words in a sentence were changed, and/or if the structure was simply reworked a little. At the end, it would give you a percentage on how much of the paper looked like it was just taken from online. It was then up to the prof to determine if that percentage was high enough to warrant further investigation. It also generated a report based on what sites it found the correlation.

      I guess what I'm eventually trying to say is...

      Who cheats anymore? You're almost guaranteed to get caught.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        Ha, I forgot my * I put up there about my linux issues

        *I spent more time looking at Man pages than anything else in that exam.

    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:11PM (#32851586) Journal

      It's okay for colleges to copy so long as they pay the money upfront. ;-)

      "the more you copy homework, the lower your grades." - I disagree. If the homework is worth 10% of your grade, then it's better to copy rather than run out of time and never turn it in (a zero). I recall in my engineering classes most of us copied, not because we wanted to, but because the profs so overloaded us with homework that it was impossible to get it all finished.

      It was ridiculous - about 10 hours of homework/week for a 3 or 4 credit class. Typical 18 credit load is 50 hours just on homework. Plus 18 hours for the lectures. Plus 10-20 hours on labwork. == 80-90 hours per week!

      Hmmm... on second thought maybe they were trying to prepare us for the Real World Suck of 60-70 hour weeks.

      • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:23PM (#32851716) Journal

        on second thought maybe they were trying to prepare us for the Real World Suck of 60-70 hour weeks.

        That was actually part of our orientation. They drew a graph for us. It went like this:

        This line here represents how hard the average worker works in the field.

        The first year, you'll be working about this hard: Half of what the average worked works at. Just introducing you to all the concepts, learning, seeing if you enjoy it, that kind of stuff. We don't want to scare anyone off in the first year basically.

        Second year, you'll be right on par with the working force. Expect your classes to be a little less than working a job but homework will make up for it.

        Third year, you'll be at about 1.5 times the average work load. This is so that when you get out of school, you are more than equipped to work in a variety of fields, and be an expert in each one. We pride ourselves on our graduate employment rate, we have to keep this high.

        Fourth year, You'll be at 2 times the average work load. This is so that when your boss comes down Friday at 4:55 pm and says "Holy Gosh Darn Crap, the server room has smoke coming out of it" you can go "No problem chief, I'll have it up before anyone is in on Monday, I better get that raise I asked for".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If I ever went back to college I'd probably take a different tactic rather than blatant copying:

          - ignore the homework. Yeah it's worth 10% but tests were worth 60-70% and labs are another 20-30% so those are more important. I'd just scribble my best guess on the homework and not worry whether the final answer is right. The grad students are usually lenient, handing out 6-7% (out of 10) just because you tried.

          I'd then use the freed-up 50 hours to focus on actually learning the material, plus getting prepa

          • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:57PM (#32852806)
            I can't speak to your experience but the homework in my upper level physics courses was crucial to understanding the material. Basically the assumption was if we could do the homework, we could do the exams, which I found was the case for the most part.

            The exams themselves also tended to be modified homework problems; although not exact, they would require the same thought and techniques the homework did.

        • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:52PM (#32852764) Journal

          Fourth year, You'll be at 2 times the average work load. This is so that when your boss comes down Friday at 4:55 pm and says "Holy Gosh Darn Crap, the server room has smoke coming out of it" you can go "No problem chief, I'll have it up before anyone is in on Monday, I better get that raise I asked for".

          Sounds like your college is run by people with no significant grasp of reality. Yes, bosses occasionally ask you to pull all-nighters or all-weekenders, but that happens occasionally. If it's happening continuously, then that's a sign that this is a job for first-year college grads that they don't expect you to actually stay in for very long before moving on to a real job. Either that or the company is in a death spiral. Either way, you don't want to stay there.

          For a school to pull that on a continuous basis isn't preparing you for the real world. It's preparing you to go postal and shoot up the campus. Just saying. An 80 hour week is simply unsustainable for more than about two or three weeks at a time, whether you're talking about a workplace or a college. You're going to spend, at minimum:

          • 1 hour per day traveling between classes, etc.
          • 2 hours per day eating.
          • 45 minutes per day on personal hygiene.
          • 8 hours per day sleeping.
          • half an hour per day waking up.
          • half an hour per day going to sleep.

          That's 12 hours and 45 minutes, which leaves 11 hours, 15 minutes MAXIMUM that you can usefully use. An 80 hour week requires 11 hours, 26 minutes on average per day. So it simply can't be done without cutting into something that's actually critical for your health and well being, and that's if you don't take a single minute to just relax and enjoy life, don't attend any sort of religious institution, aren't in any fraternity or sorority, don't get any actual exercise beyond walking to/from class, etc. In short it's very unhealthy.

          Over long periods of time, such insane levels of work lead to serious mental health problems. If your school is truly working you 80 hours per week, you should contact a mental health professional and have them do a study on your school's population. I suspect you'll find higher than normal rates of anger management problems, severe inability to concentrate due to sleep deprivation, and a significantly elevated rate of depression and suicidal thoughts. It simply is not healthy to work people that hard over an extended period of time. It's so unhealthy that nearly every civilized country in the world (except the U.S.) has laws limiting work hours to significantly less than that.

          And it's not just unhealthy in the short term. College is a critical time in people's lives for creating new social relationships. For most people, their first thirteen years of education was spent with mostly the same people. College is the first time that they break away from that, and it is critical that they have sufficient time during all four years to get used to making new friends quickly. It's going to happen when they move from job to job later in life, and if they aren't prepared to handle that, it can be socially damaging, even devastating. When you lose a job, your whole social network goes away. Preparing students for that is at least as important as any academic information that they can impart---maybe even more important. The social learning will still be useful in twenty years, long after any detailed technical knowledge has become dated and stale.

          Also a substantial percentage of marriages occur because of people meeting in college. With an 80-hour instruction week, such socialization becomes nonexistent, leading to even further elevated rates of depression in graduates down the road. The lack of adequate time to socialize also results in those graduates having a hard time with social interaction after they graduate simply due to not having socialized much for four years. This further exacerbates the problem.

          Finally, such

  • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:27AM (#32851030)
    It's being a 'team player'.
  • Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

    • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:28AM (#32851044)

      Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

      And the company goes: "Well I'm not hiring anyone from THAT university again".

      The schools do have an incentive to curtail cheating.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:41AM (#32851202)

        Schools also have an ethical responsibility to ensure that graduates actually have the skills/knowledge that the degree implies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grepya (67436)

      Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

      From TFA:
      “Copying homework is a leading indicator of becoming a business major,”

            I leave the punchlines to the public....

      • by Monchanger (637670) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:38AM (#32851168) Journal

        Unfortunately business majors are usually the ones doing the hiring.

        • >>>Unfortunately business majors are usually the ones doing the hiring.

          And once again I'm reminded why choosing Engineering was a mistake. I chose the degree that forces me to fall on my knees & beg for a job from the guys who spent most of their time partying/sexing in school. 9packs-up suitcase). That's it. I'm going back to school and get a business major with minor in human resources. Then *I* can be the boss. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by frizop (831236)
      As if to say they are usually taught anything they need to know for their job anyway.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Which isn't much different when entering the real world when you weren't cheating... for nearly all bachelor degrees everything can be figured out on the fly.

      • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:48AM (#32851284)

        Earlier in my career I had great disdain for an aspect of my company's culture that seemed to venerate degreed folk simply because of the degree denying or holding back promotions of clear subject matter experts simply because they did not have the degree usually appropriate for that level. True to form, I was promoted immediately after getting my Masters. Nonetheless, I really did believe most of what we did could be trained "on the fly".

        Then something changed.

        I had the opportunity to mentor someone who hadn't yet finished a Bachelors degree.

        I showered them with documentation, with web-based training, with tutorials and direct training. It didn't help. Others may have done well. This individual couldn't, on their own, complete the most basic assignments and froze instead of using many avenues to overcome problems or misunderstandings.

        It's not a matter of what you learned to get your degree. It's that you learned how to learn. Completing a degree demonstrates your ability to complete a long-term project presumably with all the initiative, time-management and general project planning that entails.

        Cheating your way through short-cuts all of that.

    • by toastar (573882)

      Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

      Yes, But unlike Schools, Most Jobs don't care if you cheat.

      In fact copying a successful peers work is likely to get me a raise in the real world.

      • by Ocker3 (1232550)
        Unless your job involves creating original work. In the tech world, emulating existing/proven network designs, hardware configurations and software installations leads to a stable environment and a happy boss. But if you're a software engineer, copying everyone else's code and pretending it's your own isn't good form. If you take multiple (attributed) objects and combine them in a new way to do something useful, That's good form, but avoiding citing your sources can lead to very unpleasant discussions later
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      That doesn't work in the real world. In the real world your boss may not even be in the same field as you and they have no basis to know if you are actually good or just bullshitting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I wouldn't have a problem with cheating if the schools actually taught anything anymore. Certainly more than half of what I'm doing now is still reading out of a book and then taking a test on it, something that anyone with reading skills and free time can do. Actually, if they did teach things, it would also make it extremely difficult to cheat, so it would be a self-correcting problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mewyn (663989)
      Hell no. Being in a highly competitive degree program at one of the best schools in the nation for it, cheaters not only hurt themselves in the long run, but everyone else in the class. In my analog signals class, there is a large contingent that cheats on the homework and artificially inflates their grades. This class is also heavily curved, and since analog signals are not my strong suit, I ended up getting bit by the cheaters by dragging my letter grade down.

      Cheaters in a university very rarely hurt j
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Go ahead, let them cheat. They'll be paying for it once they get a job based on their "degree" and suddenly realize they don't know fuckall about what they're doing.

      No, We'll all be paying for it because those losers will be playing musical chairs with companies; learning to look good in interviews, but making us do their work until they're terminated.

  • Before you know it, all student financial records will be audited to make sure they haven't bought anything from Thinkgeek during their academic careers.
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:29AM (#32851062) Homepage Journal

    Bruce Schneier already knows Alice AND Bob's secret; all he has to do to detect cheating is eye a test taker until their lies burst into flames. Nothing hides from Bruce Schneier... Nothing.

  • Reward them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You know what, if a student is capable of developing a pen-camera just to cheat on a test. Let him pass. There is a very good chance by the time he leaves school he'll be creating even better technology. God knows the West needs the innovation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeng (926980)

      They already exist, no need to develop one to cheat with. Any moron could use one.

      http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/techies/c521/ [thinkgeek.com]

      • by delinear (991444)
        Consider we're probably less than a decade away from having all kind of tech built into a pair of spectacles and the issue becomes deeper. Next we'll be forcing people to have eye tests before their real tests. Maybe we should all test naked, just in case. Come to think of it, overhead cameras and female students sound like a recipe for all kinds of lawsuit-based fun.
    • by Ocker3 (1232550)
      I think they're more worried about people just buying gear, not hacking it together.
  • "The more you copy homework, the lower your grades."

    No shit, Sherlock! Does that mean that if I don't think by myself I will not really learn? Wow! Who would guess that!

  • by jfoobaz (1844794) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:32AM (#32851100)

    I think of the purpose of education as getting an education. If you don't ever learn the material well enough to pass exams on your own, it's kind of a waste of time.

    And, yeah, I get that people work for grades and the piece of paper at the end of the whole thing, but if you didn't actually learn anything apart from how to cheat well, you missed the whole point. Though you probably stand to have a lucrative career in international finance.

    • by Itninja (937614)
      "getting an education" != "passing an exam".
      Passing a test requires only the regurgitation of information. That's learning only in the most superficial sense (like how one would teach a toddler their alphabet).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jridley (9305)

      Yup. As I say, cheating is just admitting to yourself that you're not good enough to win on your own.

  • by sarkeizen (106737) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:33AM (#32851114) Journal
    I've worked for educational institutions and in one case I recall them attempting to deploy an anti-cheating countermeasures and got shouted down by students. Also given that many public institutions are compensated by degree completion working against cheating costs the institution not just for the price of technology but in the lost tuition and public funding. To me, this seems like an institution who cares about the quality of their student's education.
    • by delinear (991444)
      Of course, if they cared just a bit more they'd spend all the money they're using to catch cheats on helping struggling/lazy students so they didn't need to cheat in the first place.
  • If your university finds it necessary to go to such lengths to prevent cheating maybe you should take that as a sign to find a better university.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by badboy_tw2002 (524611)

      Exactly. My college had an honor system. We'd have take home tests and stuff. If you were caught cheating, you got kicked out of school, plain and simple. They did boot about a dozen people a year, so the cost/benefit of cheating meant you took that D and worked harder the next time.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:39AM (#32851176)

    At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

    If some folks want to cheat, they will find a way: Chewing gum or no chewing gum. With such measures, you will only force the cheaters to be more creative. Try to teach them values so that they will know that it is wrong instead.

    • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:49AM (#32851294) Homepage

      At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

      I think I would be offended at having to affirm that I am not a cheater. Cheaters, on the other hand, wouldn't care.

    • by mooingyak (720677)

      At my university, in scenic New Jersey, we had an Honor Code that we had to sign after every exam; saying that I didn't cheat. I felt proud signing that, and believe that most of the other students felt the same.

      I've encountered similar things in the past. They usually left me with two questions:

      1. Does my signing this change anything?
      2. What happens if I don't sign it?

      Though I didn't cheat, I would daydream up conversations like "Son, we caught you cheating" Me: "No, no, it's okay, I didn't sign the h

    • you described new jersey as scenic

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      If they haven't learned values by the time they're in college, they're not going to learn them there. The cheaters were proud that they could lie and swear they didn't cheat; cheaters lie, and liars cheat. Honor codes mean nothing to a person with no honor.

  • Retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:39AM (#32851178)

    They'll never stop people from cheating. They'll catch a few idiots and an equal number of innocent people. They'll raise the tension so much for the average student that they'll have to double their suicide watch programs during finals week. They'll still have a bunch of students who get away with it. Most importantly, they'll be so confident in their success that they'll do what academia does best - pat themselves on the back for wasting money while being completely oblivious to those who are outsmarting them.

    Tests and anti-cheating measures are the lazy way to go about "education". But what do you expect when the most egregious cheaters, plagiarizers, and bullshitters are the professors themselves?

    Write your own lectures.
    Write your own tests and assignments.
    Change them every year.
    Change them if you have multiple testing sessions.
    Don't copy them from the campus where your other professor friend works.
    Don't pull shit out of the book you wrote for the class and made students buy.
    Don't make students buy the book of your cohort^h^h^h^h^h^h colleague on another campus and have him reciprocate the favor, only for both of you to teach to your opinions and not what's in the assigned material.
    Get TAs that speak English.
    Speak English.
    Respond to emails.
    Update your website.
    Post notes and assignments when you say you will.
    Hold more than 1 office hour per week. Understand the material yourself.
    Etc.

    • Re:Retarded (Score:4, Funny)

      by boristdog (133725) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:00PM (#32851466)

      Listen, If you're going to make sense and ask people to do their jobs properly, I'm going to have to ask you to leave /.

      And the Internet in general.

    • by drewhk (1744562)

      I fully agree.

  • My brother in law, an economics professor, recently had to grade a paper from the freshman class he was teaching. He found that virtually every paper had the same ideas in the same sequence, and frequently the exact same wording (I.E. cut-and-paste). Even more interesting, and disturbing, he found that by comparing the texts they could be roughly grouped by the race of the student.

    His theory is that the current generation is so used to forwarding, re-tweeting, re-blogging, and re-posting that they literally don't see it as cheating.

    • by alen (225700)

      that and we have these things called study groups where people learn together. and the fact that there is only so many opinions you can form about any subject

    • Well, then a short, ten minute talk with the student should be able to determine if the student simply cut and pasted, or if he or she really understands what they wrote in the paper.

      I think a good prof should be able to determine that.

      But maybe profs these days don't have enough time for their students.

    • by tixxit (1107127) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:38PM (#32851900)
      What is cheating though? Copying answers verbatim is cheating, yes. But my friend got caught "cheating" on an assignment. Really, her and her friend did the assignment together (ie. they worked out some of the problems together, rather than copying answers - they shared a dorm after all). Even I had a hard time believing that that was cheating. I've learned a great deal from friends in the same program as I. Similarly, I've learned many things by being the one doing the explaining, since it helps me organize my thoughts better and really think things through.
  • by psm321 (450181)

    So glad I went to a school with an honor code where people are not assumed to be criminals by default.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Chemicles (771024)

      Amen to that. The University of Michigan's College of Engineering has an honor code such that the professors and TAs are not even allowed in the room while the students are taking an exam. It'll show in your work if you cheated your way to a degree, especially in engineering. I'm curious what other universities have such policies.

      And yes, universities do have an incentive to reduce cheating (they don't want other graduates to suffer from guilt by association) but like you said, it's nice not to be treate

  • by areusche (1297613) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:45AM (#32851246)

    I don't know why colleges waste time on pointless technology when there are easier and less expensive methods to stop cheating.

    Instead of a 500 person lecture hall bring it down to 30 students. Watch the little bastards during a test. See little Sammy Jean pulling her skirt down in the corner? Move around the room and watch her eyes start darting around as she starts to get nervous. Walk up to her and ask, "Is everything ok?" I bet she'll probably admit to it on the spot.

    Students will go and tell their friends what the questions were on a test, don't make us sign some stupid waiver saying we won't because we will. If it bothers the lecture, professor, or god forbid the do-nothing provost, change some of the questions for each section or just stop whining.

    It's a pointless arms race where the kids are always going to have the one up. Stop wasting the waste of money and have your professors and TAs walk around and watch the students. Realize that making a good effort to stop 95% of cheaters will work and the other 5% will grow up to work for Lehman Brothers, Citi, or become politicians. Needlessly wasting money on anti-cheating or plagiarism tools takes away money from improving services like the shitty food in the dining halls, the rat infested dorms, or having a notable group perform on the weekend prior to finals will make your student population happier and more likely to be donating alumni in the future.

    And finally, In my own not so humble opinion, the risk of getting caught just isn't worth blatantly cheating on a test. Most professors will just fail you for the semester which is more than enough of a punishment. There are the few that will go above and beyond the duty to make your life hell (suspension, expulsion), but failing a course is more than enough of an incentive to keep me from cheating.

    Phew, I needed a good rant today.

    • While I agree with you that the "ease" of cheating is bolstered by the mass-production style of education where you have 500 people taking a test at the same time, I'm not so sure reducing the test-taking cohorts to 30 students would be more cost effective than the technological solutions they're currently pursuing.

    • by RingDev (879105)

      I had 4 guys from my ASCS degree get booted from the school after an accusation of plagarism and hacking. 15k in debt and they didn't even have a piece of paper to show for it.

      -Rick

    • Stop wasting the waste of money and have your professors and TAs walk around and watch the students.

      As a TA, I warned them: There will be four of us standing around for three hours with nothing better to do than catch you.

      They'd do it anyway, and get caught.

    • by delinear (991444)
      More importantly, structure your questions in such a way that, even if someone can look up the information, they need to understand it properly to answer. After all, most of what's considered "cheating" could be research. If your test is simple enough that regurgitating what's on Wikipedia will answer it, that's what people will do. Challenge them to use that information in ways that's not readily available and suddenly it doesn't matter where they got the information so much as how they apply it. Hell, I r
  • Yeah and what if I put a camera in some fake glasses?

    If people with the resources to buy a pen with a camera in it want to cheat, they're going to and there isn't much they can do to stop them.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:50AM (#32851298) Homepage

    Get each class to test and grade each other.

    The theory will be they are best placed to honestly appraise the quality of each others' work, and to catch cheating. The practice will be that slutty chicks, trust fundies, jocks and backstabbing weasels will buy, bully or scam the highest relative grades at the expense of the plain, the poor, the timid and the trusting.

    And that, class, is how you prepare yourself for surviving the next half-century climbing the greasy pole at AnyCorp Inc. You can't teach lessons like that.

  • cultural differences (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:51AM (#32851330) Homepage

    I suspect there are serious cultural differences regarding cheating. For example: at my university, the Indian comp-sci students all knew each other and held regular "study sessions." I was once invited to one. I was amazed to observe that it was simply a highly-organized cheating exercise. These guys had graded homework assignments and exams from all classes, and they passed them around, casually copying solutions verbatim to their homework assignments and recording exam answers. They begged me for all of my exams and homework assignments from current and previous tests so that they could add them to their collection. And they didn't see anything wrong with this.

    What I found particularly amusing was how amazed they were at my abilities at coming up with solutions when we had non-trivial group projects. "How did you know that would work?" they would ask. I had to try hard to avoid saying "I don't cheat so I have to actually understand the material to pass the classes."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387)

      I had to try hard to avoid saying "I don't cheat so I have to actually understand the material to pass the classes."

      You should have said it. I had a friend who was taking a CS test, and the indian sitting next to her leaned over and said, "do you want to share answers?" She said, "no, I prefer to do it myself so I can learn." The indian looked at her, amazed, and said, "that's so impressive." It was as if the idea of doing that had never occurred to him. So if you had said something, you might have helped to change someone's life.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:34PM (#32851820)

      We have a lot of foreign grad students, Indian and Chinese in particular. Well something I notice especially with the Chinese students but the Indian ones to an extent as well is the idea that all knowledge is something that someone already has. If you do not know the answer to a problem, the correct course of action is to seek out the person or book that does. Everything is already known, you just have to find who knows it. The idea of problem solving is one they don't grasp.

      So their computer will break (that's what we do, we are the systems and network support) and they'll come and ask us about it. They get vexed when we say "I don't know what is wrong," they often look at you like you are an idiot, and why don't you go find the person who does?

      I remember one time when a lab lost network connection so I was heading down there and he says "Why is the network down?" I said "I'm not sure," that got me a very quizzical look. So we got there and I said "Where's the switch, let's reboot that first," he said "Will that fix the problem?" I said "I don't know." He didn't seem to want to do it, since why bother if it wouldn't fix the problem? I found the switch, rebooted it, and the problem was solved. This was a totally mysterious process to the guy. How the hell could someone who didn't know what the problem was solve it without asking someone who did?

      There does seem to be a cultural difference with this, and I think it comes down to the education system. My mom went to teach English in China for about half a year (she used to be a teacher in the US) and said that their version of teaching English was route memorization. Students were presented with a couple hundred phrases per night they were expected to memorize. That was it. Needless to say, that works for shit. The Chinese government realizes it doesn't work very well, which is why they bring in US English teachers, but it is fighting against a cultural attitude of eduction through memorization. Mom said the teachers were very skeptical of her methods (which did not include memorization).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Subm (79417)

        their version of teaching English was route memorization

        Naturally they have to memorize routes because China could block Google maps at any time.

  • by MadAnalyst (959778) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:52AM (#32851342)
    When I taught, we had a fool proof way to stop illegal cheat sheets. Just let the students bring a cheat sheet. Of course, that made the exams a bit harder. They ended up being less regurgitation and more about comprehension. And proctoring became much easier, fewer things to look for (more time spent scanning for cell phones in use).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jr2k (1434921)

      Isn't that what school is about anyways? When I went through Naval Nuclear Power School, you either got the topic or you didn't. Understanding a theory or topic is much more important than memorization. The best students weren't necessarily the best operators.

      When we got to the ship, most everything is just book work, but at least we knew the background of what we were doing. No meltdowns yet.

    • by somaTh (1154199) on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:33PM (#32851808) Journal
      Going through college, I had classes like this. The hardest tests were open book, open note, bring your calculator tests. God help you if it was take home.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        Going through college, I had classes like this. The hardest tests were open book, open note, bring your calculator tests.

        Indeed, the hardest test I ever took in the Navy was one where I could use any resource I wanted *other* than asking another individual for help or advise. But in the interests of full disclosure, that was a practical exam where they took us into a room and presented us with a completely disassembled (old style/washing machine) hard drive and expected us to put it back together and align

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cbhacking (979169)

        Agreed. I actually thought take-home tests were among the best. Yes, there was potential for cheating, but aside from directly askign another student for the solution, we were *expected* to utilize the toosl we had. Reference books, websites, even (near-exact quote) "this is a tricky operation, so you might want to implement your solution on your circuit board to test it. You can start from the project 3 code if you want".

        The reason I loved this type of "test" is that it is very much how the real world work

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Trifthen (40989)

        Oh God, you just reminded me of my Mathematics Analysis class. This professor was a well known evil overlord in the 300-level courses. He usually made the homework so hard, it forced the class to work together to even finish say, 70% of it, after working on it until 2am.

        And the final? Excuse me... finals? Yes, there were two. One of them was take-home, and looked suspiciously minuscule. Two pages. Two pages of questions for a take-home final? Ha! Easy. I'll have it done in a couple hours.

        NO! For the love of

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      We had open book tests in my engineering courses.

      If you didn't know your stuff, it didn't matter if you had every book on the subject, you didn't have enough time to complete the test.

      Personally I programmed to study. I would write programs for my TI-89 to do everything for the test. However after writing out all the equations by hand, checking it against every possible way they could ask the question, verifying it with 5-6 different problems, checking everything again I had inadvertently memorized the equa

  • This is pretty much just paranoia at the point they are talking. "Nobody can have any idea what is on the test!" Sorry, but you'll have to do better than that. I could go in to said test and come out and from memory give people a fairly accurate rendition of the questions on it. That's just life. You can't have this big secret.

    Also, it is a symptom of a shitty test and shitty teaching. If you test relies on nobody knowing what is on it, that means it is just a memorization test. You are having people memori

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Friday July 09, 2010 @11:58AM (#32851420) Homepage Journal

    will never work.

    Humans are ingenious.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:00PM (#32851450)
    I never once cheated when I was at university, and am quite proud of that fact. But I hated the fact that *I* had to suffer with these kinds of heavy-handed anti-cheating measures, even though I never once cheated. Taking a test at university was akin to being dragged in for questioning as a murder suspect. No matter how much you tried to establish your innocence, it always felt like every prof viewed you as a criminal, with something to hide. It really made for an adversarial relationship. And it got worse and worse during my time at university too. By my last year, I felt like my prof's would have been happy to frame me on a bogus cheating charge at the drop of a hat. I was presumed guilty.
  • When I was a T/A (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@ao[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday July 09, 2010 @12:03PM (#32851496) Journal

    I taught a circuits lab class when I was in grad school. I eliminated cheating quite easily. I generated an individual test for each student with the exact same problems but different values for the components. I also randomized the order of the questions and used different color paper to create more confusion. For example, I'd hand out 1/4 of the test each in 4 different colors, with no two adjacent students having the same color - to discourage the thought of cheating in the first place.

    I'll never forget, though, the time that two students in different sections turned in lab writeups with the exact same measurement data - out to 5 decimal places (because that's what the Keithley meters were set to display).

  • why is self plagiarism red / black flagged? and why does turn it in own your work.

  • In my observation, the only way to really curb cheating is to make the punishment for cheating extremely severe AND to not simply give the same exam year after year. The risk of a very severe punishment like expulsion and basically black-balling you by putting "expelled due to cheating" on your transcript discourages the typical casual cheater from even seriously thinking about cheating. If your school costs a bunch of money, this is even more effective as being kicked out with a $50-100k+ debt and no diplo

  • by SoTerrified (660807) on Friday July 09, 2010 @01:03PM (#32852152)

    Was actually an English class. (Yes, I'm an engineer, but I love to read, and I wanted to be a better communicator, so it seemed like a good elective.)

    We have a major essay on "The Scarlet Letter". After we hand it in, the prof announces that she did her masters degree on the book. She says she has read everything ever written on the book. And she mentions that she has detected plagiarism. She says "If the cheaters drop this class immediately, I will not pursue charges. Otherwise, expect this to be brought up with the University." Now, I hadn't even looked at other texts. Everything I had written was straight out of my head. I don't cheat normally, but in this case, I knew I couldn't even accidentally cheat.

    Next class I show up... 66% had dropped the class. We literally had one third of the students still in the class. It really opened my eyes with regards to how common cheating is.

    Oh, and for the record, for those who know the book, my essay had argued that colour vs. black/white was what defined what was acceptable in Hester's world. And thus the 'Black man' was not an outsider, but instead a necessary part. (Kinda along the lines of "There would be no God without Satan, so Satan is actually a positive Christian force, a good guy.") I still remember the response which was "This is entirely original... And wrong. But you did a wonderful job trying to make it work." and I received an A on the paper. So the incident also gave me insight into profs that have seen it all... If you can bring them something original, even if it's wrong, they're just happy to see someone breaking new ground, so they'll give you marks for trying.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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