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Catching Exam Cheats With a Spectrum Analyzer 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-did-you-get-for-number-3? dept.
angry tapir writes "Police in Taiwan have used a set of spectrum analyzers to catch at least three people suspected of cheating on an exam by monitoring them for mobile phone signals. Officers used three FSH4 analyzers specially configured by the German manufacturer Rohde & Schwarz to monitor an exam in south Taiwan for prospective government workers."
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Catching Exam Cheats With a Spectrum Analyzer

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  • by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:41PM (#34856842) Journal

    I use the FSH4 at work - nice little SA - interesting use for it.

    • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @11:24PM (#34857494) Homepage

      Yeah, I have a FSH8 (which is closely related to the FSH4 but goes to 8GHz) in my office and it's a really nicely designed peice of kit. It's light, the controls are responsive and well designed, the dyamic range is good (at least compared to the anritsu I don't have anything else to compare it too).

      Much nicer to use than the anritsu MS2036A we have.

      • Do the FSH's run WinXP as well? I've got the FSQ26 which is part spectrum analyzer (26GHz) and it's a great tool except when Windows crashes on me.
        • If they are using windows they have hidden it very well. Could well be a winCE base or so though (afaict wince can be made to look pretty much however the device vendor likes).

  • This can't be a bad thing, if it raises the quality and character of prospective government workers...
    • by potus98 (741836)
      Or perhaps this approach only ensures that *smart* prospective workers are weeded out. Okay, "smart" is subjective so substitute "motivated and creative."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PPH (736903)

      TFA says it caught them cheating. It didn't say they were disqualified. For all we know, cheating may have been a prerequisite for a gov't job.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:48PM (#34856884) Homepage
    I have lived outside our Western culture for a while now, and there is a big difference in the idea of tests and examinations. We have the idea that the test is there to see who is competent to get the job. Simple, right? Nope, it's our own cultural biases that make us think this way. Elsewhere, it's all about getting what comes after the test. Your actual skill is irrelevant, not really a worthy topic of discussion. It's all about the job that you can get, or the university that you can get into, or whatever. The idea that if you don't have the skills then you're not qualified doesn't translate. Eastern cultures have a long history of examinations and take a different view than we do. I know a teacher who, after repeatedly warning against cheating in his class, was fired for daring to catch his students cheating in class. The students lost face, you see, and the teacher (not the students' cheating) was identified as the cause of the problem. True story.
    • The Western view seems to be moving towards one in which a degree, with a high GPA, is an entitlement earned by paying tuition, and instructors who upset their students by resisting this change are not helping their careers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:27AM (#34857844)

      I know a teacher who, after repeatedly warning against cheating in his class, was fired for daring to catch his students cheating in class. The students lost face, you see, and the teacher (not the students' cheating) was identified as the cause of the problem. True story.

      It's very believable. I just started working in a university in Malaysia. At the start, I found from my colleagues about the pervasiveness of cheating and plagiarism in the university. However, since I found that there was very little guard against cheating, I believed that the students just thought that they would lose out if they do not cheat. That is, the system is at fault here rather than the students.

      Hence, I designed my courses to make copying and cheating difficult.

      It didn't take long for me to realize that my style of teaching totally bombed on the students. Many did not like it at all. They believed that what I did was "destroying their future" (-exact words they wrote in my evaluation), and they went to the dean to complain about this "most stupid lecturer they have ever seen" (-exact words). Yet another student commented, "you think you are in US or Japan, but this is malaysia" (-exact words).

      True story. I only hope that after a few generations, things will start to change.

    • by robbyjo (315601)

      In Ancient China, imperial exam [wikipedia.org] was literally game-changing. The stake is high; it was virtually the only way peasants could become noblemen. Therefore, people did whatever it took to be successful. This system was copied and adapted to some degree in ancient Japan, Korea, or Vietnam. Hence similar attitude also pervades in these countries.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I just finished giving my exams in a foreign culture (I teach at a university in Beijing). My experience is different, but that may be because the college I teach for specifically prepares students for going overseas for graduate school. Not only am I encouraged to identify cheaters, I am given a bonus for catching anyone cheating. In spite of the fact that the rooms can be cold, putting one's hands into pockets to warm them up is considered an indication of cheating, even if after the fact it is shown t

  • Good! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <{moc.eticxe} {ta} {lwohtsehgrab}> on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @09:54PM (#34856934) Journal

    Catch more of them!

    I'm sick of the widespread mentality that cheating is not only desirable but necessary, and that if done for the purpose of "getting ahead", it's alright. I sure wouldn't want a doctor or a lawyer who cheated their way through. I want one who took every test honestly and demonstrated they actually learned the material.

    Maybe if we put back the concept of "Cheat or lie (as an adult) once, career suicide for good", we could eliminate this crap. It's infected everything from police to politicians, and programmers to paramedics. If we can find better ways to ensure people actually know what the hell they're doing, instead of demonstrating they can read letters from a cheat sheet, good.

    Though, part of the blame also lies with those who design the tests. Multiple choice and fill in the blank tests are obsolete. The best tests would give the taker a project to do, and should be made difficult enough that collaboration is allowed and encouraged. After all, in real world scenarios, collaboration and the ability to research are important skills at nearly everything. As an alternative, one could at the very least give essay questions that would require careful thought and don't have a single "right answer" that can be copied in.

    Of course, that takes more effort to grade than running a bunch of sheets through a reader. Imagine that, giving something actual thought.

    • Maybe if we put back the concept of "Cheat or lie (as an adult) once, career suicide for good", we could eliminate this crap.

      Or more likely, we'd end up with a ton of people being framed for it, and the weasels getting to the top more quickly.

    • by Renraku (518261)

      Corruption is a serious issue.

      A lot of classes don't teach for understanding. They may try it but if you memorize it enough you can fake understanding by simply reciting everything. Then you promptly forget these things. Perhaps if failing didn't mean we students would have to change majors or drop out with nothing to show for our $50k in debt things might change. Of course there will always be the people that do as little as possible and harass others for the answers..when I was a freshman in college I

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @12:33AM (#34857864) Journal

        A lot of classes don't teach for understanding. They may try it but if you memorize it enough you can fake understanding by simply reciting everything.

        It's true, you have to do a bit more work yourself, but a lot of classes cover things which can be understood in an integrated way. It's just that it sometimes takes a lot of random fact-memorizing to get to that point. You may think you understand integral calculus because you get the concepts, but you don't really understand it until you've been forced to memorize a dozen or so techniques of integration. You need to have them memorized and practiced because, if you don't, no formula sheet is going to help you identify which one is relevant to the given formula.

        Now, whether classes do a good job of measuring understanding is another thing, and it could certainly be improved. But I've never let a bad class or a bad instructor get in the way of learning something I need to know.

        Perhaps if failing didn't mean we students would have to change majors or drop out with nothing to show for our $50k in debt things might change.

        So change majors, or don't fail. I don't really see what this has to do with the school, though. It sucks, but speaking from experience, it's far better than lowering standards.

        I speak from experience. I wasn't really ready for college, and managed to fail all but one class my freshman year. I dropped out, and my parents made it very clear: They'd support me if I was getting an education, but if I wasn't, they wouldn't. I got a job and moved out.

        A few years supporting myself in the Real World has given me a lot of perspective.

        So when my last job evaporated (entire company went under, crushed by the economy), I collected unemployment for awhile, then decided I may as well be doing something useful while I collect unemployment, so I went to a local community college. I took a full term (trimester), participated in a competition and a club, had plenty of time to relax, and got straight A's.

        Then I petitioned to get back into my original four-year university. It's much harder to get back if you've been dismissed for academic reasons than to get in the first time, but my awesome time at the community college probably said something. My first semester back, I was in four clubs, including a martial art (Hapkido). I moved from white belt to orange belt, and got straight A's.

        That was last spring.

        I had an internship last summer (still technically a freshman!), and last semester (also still technically a freshman!), I did pretty much all of the same things, plus I was a TA for a course I'd taken the semester before. Only two bad things happened: I got too busy for Hapkido for awhile, and I got one A-. The other three courses, I got A's. That brings me from a 0.6 GPA when I first came back to above 3.0.

        I am loving every minute of it. I'm actually understanding stuff. I'm actually putting the work in. I'm being challenged, and I'm rising to the challenge. (I'm not really learning humility particularly well, at least not tonight...) I can actually appreciate what I'm being taught -- I can cut through the bullshit, I can do the tedious grunt work (and quickly!), and I can get at the heart of what I'm supposed to be learning, and it's beautiful.

        If I had been allowed to pass with how badly I did? I'd have sat on my ass and played video games. I'd have coasted through as long as I could manage, then end up at some cushy sysadmin job, at least as long as those last. In fact, that's more or less the trajectory I was on throughout high school, but high school let me get away with it -- which is why I was so fucked up my first year of college.

        As it is, I'm seriously considering grad school. Even if I don't, I'm setting myself up to have pretty much any tech job I want when I graduate -- and even the bad classes are fun while I'm here. It's not easy to describe how dramatically different my life is because

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've presented homework projects, along with a critique of the list of answers I noticed the TA left lying in the study area, and carefully did expanded work to show that I'd personally masterd the material and gone beyond those answers. It was very embarassing to the TA, who should never have been hired, but also embarassing to the professor because my paper was presented to the class as a whole as part of a surprise presentation program, and as soon as I presented the copy of the list of answers, I was ki

    • The best tests would give the taker a project to do, and should be made difficult enough that collaboration is allowed and encouraged.

      Projects are great, but collaboration in a test is silly. It's true that later in your career, you'll be asked to work in a team, BUT you will still be expected to know all your material, not just a tiny part of it.

      If people collaborate on answering a test, then the result won't be a comprehensive check of what they know, it will only show at best how good they are at

    • by splerdu (187709)

      > Catch more of them!

      Gotta catch 'em all!

    • by xenobyte (446878)

      Catch more of them!

      I'm sick of the widespread mentality that cheating is not only desirable but necessary, and that if done for the purpose of "getting ahead", it's alright. I sure wouldn't want a doctor or a lawyer who cheated their way through. I want one who took every test honestly and demonstrated they actually learned the material.

      Exams don't work. Never did actually. At least they don't test for anything really usable except the ability to memorize textbooks, and the ability to utilize this under 'planned stress' on the specific day of the exam, maybe combined with luck as to which questions are on the test. If you happen to have a bad day, or get severely nervous waiting for the exam, you test a lot worse than your real level of expertise.

      Remember, the real world does not in any way resemble the exam situation. In the real world, p

  • Though I admit it is cool and innovative use of technology, I think there is something fundamentally wrong in trying to catch cheating by throwing everything except the kitchen sink at it. It seems to be the no-you-are-doing-it-wrong kind of a way.

    After all, some other ways [slashdot.org] work too.

    • He only did that because he didn't have a way of proving absolutely that any particular individual cheated. If there's a foolproof way of catching a cheater, such as being seen in the act by an invigilator, then that's unquestionably a good thing.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:02PM (#34856992)
    Too bad it's not the U.S.

    If it were, I'd say: make them take a polygraph, a urine test, and walk through a backscatter machine before entering the test room.

    I know those are either nearly useless (backscatter and polygraph) and of questionable value to society (urine test), but government and corporations make us take them... let them do it too.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Far simpler, pass a law stating that if any employee of any organization has to do those things all the execs must too. Written in such a way that if a postal employee has to piss in a cup so does the President. This sort of crap would disappear overnight.

      • I agree 100%. I have even told prospective employers that before. Really.

        I said "If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who is likely to do the most damage to the company and its employees? Obviously the managers. Therefore, I'll pee in a cup and show you the results, if you will show me the results of YOURS."

        I only did that to somebody I had learned I really didn't want to work for anyway. But I have told others that I simply won't take the test, period.
    • You've been reading Snow Crash [wikipedia.org], haven't you?
  • Using cell phones to cheat? All we had were a couple cans and a crummy piece of string. But we got by... Next they'll ask for transportation, too, I'll bet.

    Disrespectful punks, get off my lawn!
  • They were suspected. That does not mean they actually were. Also how many false negatives?

    And why allow phones in the first place? Just do not allow anything that can be used for cheating, including pens. Provide people with what they need. If they need a calculator, then give them a calculator. If people need a pen and paper, then give them pen and paper.

    From experience I know that you can open a pen and put paper in it. (Also I know that by re-writing the cheating paper several times, because it was to bi

    • by TD-Linux (1295697)
      I think the point was that cell phones weren't allowed, and so any cell phone usage detected could be assumed as cheating, if not at least breaking the rules of the test.
    • by Meshach (578918)

      And why allow phones in the first place?

      While that is an admirable aspiration I think that cell phones / smart phones have reached the point that disallowing them is no longer practical.

      My sister is a high school math teacher and she says that in her school students are not allowed to use a phone during class but she still confiscates at least one per week. Normally the kids are not cheating but just texting friends. Actually the second most common is taking pictures of the exam paper! In any case the teachers only recourse is to confiscate

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:24PM (#34857162)

    Test with no collaboration and no open book / Google are not the real world and just lead to people who can pass the test but have no idea on how to do the work.

    The tests need be better less about memory and more hands on. Also how many people have jobs when having a book, reference guide, google, a manual, and more is banned and having others working / help with you is a no no?

    • I used to think as you do, and I've come to realize that while it's very true for some things, it's exactly wrong for many.

      Test with no collaboration and no open book / Google are not the real world and just lead to people who can pass the test but have no idea on how to do the work.

      Well, to start with, if you only know how to solve the problem with Google, do you really know how to solve the problem? Anyone can Google for the answer. What you need to do is solve the problem yourself. Yes, it's boring, it's something everyone else has already solved, and you probably solved at least once on the homework. But if you can solve this problem, you've demonstrated that i

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Depends upon the field of study. I had an O Chem prof that took that position. We were allowed to bring in as many books as we liked, as many pages of notes as we liked and any other resources. The only things we couldn't use were the other students and the internet.

      The reason being that in the real world, chemists look things up constantly, nobody is expected to know everything, and with a field of any complexity they won't know everything.
  • LOL (Score:3, Funny)

    by TafBang (1971954) on Wednesday January 12, 2011 @10:32PM (#34857208)
    brb, going to text my friends during their finals
  • Our parents failed so miserably that the only way to catch cheaters is with technology. Cause it's too hard to raise them to be upstanding adults.

    I bet you they'd blame someone else if we pointed out the kids weren't raised well. (And then fuss about how today's youth won't accept responsibility, while expressing confusion over who they learned that from!)

    • by russotto (537200)

      Our parents failed so miserably that the only way to catch cheaters is with technology. Cause it's too hard to raise them to be upstanding adults.

      The better you can catch cheaters, the better those who are upstanding adults will do. An honor system with no verification at all merely rewards the dishonorable.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      That's certainly one aspect. The other aspect is that we have way too much riding on tests. Tests are known to be faulty measures of knowledge. A better approach tends to be basically evaluating the students constantly, but with small exercises balanced over multiple types. Answer questions in class, group work, applications and such.

      It's a lot harder to fool that sort of comprehensive assessment than a written exam covering most of the class' grade.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Nonsense. Honesty in any generation is adorable in OTHER people, but doesn't confer a competitive advantage.

      Our elite masters are rich and corrupt, our leaders are SELECTED for dishonesty because they must pander to a large spectrum of often-conflicting voter desires in order to be elected, and our co-workers are often corrupt ass-kissers who knob their way up the chain.

      It's logical to avoid getting caught by being reasonably honest, that is all.

  • Why exam rooms are simply built as Faraday cages, I'll never understand. I bet they even sell drywall laminated with foil or some such that would make it easy. Put it up, ground it, make sure the doors are steel or aluminum, no cellular or wifi at all. The rooms totally isolated.
    • and sure enough they do make it: http://www.usg.com/sheetrock-gypsum-panels-foil-backed.html
      run an unshielded ground wire down the length of every stud and every sheet will be contacting ground. Cheap and simple.
    • How many times a year are exams held? I count less than twenty, and probably more like ten, for a given course -- and they do try to pack the exams relatively close together.

      Should the exam rooms sit idle the rest of the time? I generally see lecture halls being co-opted as exam rooms, but they're useful as lecture halls the rest of the time.

      Or are you saying we should cage everything that might ever be used for an exam, so students can't use laptops or cell phones during class? Do not want.

      If you can come

  • My wife writes certification exams for a large IT company. It's not enough that her company has to create 6-7 versions of their exam and pull 100 questions out of a pool of a 1000. In older versions you could go back and check/review/revise an answer before you hit the big "Submit for Grading" button. Now the exam constantly grades you and when it determines that either you cannot pass or you cannot fail, the test is automatically ended and you score is provided. Thereby making it harder for someone to

  • I presume, since cheating on the exam shows a disregard for rules and a willingness to lie to gain advantage over others, they will now be fast-tracked onto the management course?

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