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The future of cheating

When I was a lecturer I only remember one specific case where I caught a student red-handed cheating - she had a cheat sheet filled with small and crammed notes on the topic (World Religions 101). No doubt there were some I missed, but generally I don't think it happens an awful lot (at least in the type of place I taught). Copying/passing answers probably happens relatively often, but what I'm talking about is the preplanned full-scale operation.

I remember trying it once, in physics or chemistry: I was scared that I wouldn't remember certain formulas so I copied them onto a small piece of paper and was able to consult it during the test. The thing was, because I had spent the time copying them down so carefully, I actually didn't need the cheat sheet in the test! :-O

Anyway - today's musing is inspired by an article on BBC - China hi-tech exam cheats jailed. Basically, they either got hold of the exam papers from a teacher (who faxed them once the exam started), or scanned them in the exam hall and transmitted them to people outside - then the answers were told to the students using "tiny earpieces"

Invigilating in exams is an extremely boring thing to do, so I would sometimes amuse myself by thinking of different strategies for cheating, and the key thing that stood out was obviously the phone and other wireless devices. The current way of dealing with that is to ban all handphones, PDSs, etc. from the exam halls, but as time goes on - it will become easier and easier to have hidden cameras, transmitter/receivers, etc. (as has been used in China). Looking even further ahead, there will come a time when people can have chips wired in to their brain to 'hear' calls and so on.

Therefore, ultimately, the solution will have to be either use some form of wireless phone jammer, or just go straight ahead and build customised exam halls that are designed like a secure room where no signals can come in or out - i.e. copper in the walls and stuff like that.

The other solution is just to do away with exams - the principle of an exam is that it proves that you have a certain level of knowledge, and you can deliver it in a useful manner while under pressure. This is a very good skill for a doctor, for example, or a lawyer perhaps; but most of us will work with easy access to lots of information, and our key skill has to be able to locate the proper information and use it appropriately. With that in mind, maybe there should be less remember-and-regurgitate exams, and more of the problem-solving type - i.e. you're given a problem, resources (books, certain websites on a restricted intranet) and you have to come up with a solution in a relatively short time.


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Happysurfer on :

You said, "maybe there should be less remember-and-regurgitate exams, and more of the problem-solving type.."

I couldn't agree more. Parents esp moms would have a lot less stress.

julian on :

Ya there's sometimes too much hanging on that one day... I remember that for me after two years preparing for A levels, it felt so weird that it all came down to three hours ...

jasmine on :

Good insight. Well, thinking how to cheat is a problem solving exercise in itself--given the sophistication of the methods today. Maybe that's one of the side benefits of useless exams.

But still, it's wrong.

Found you through the nuffnang music bash awards. Cool outfit.

julian on :

Well, it's only one kind of problem solving - could be good for IT courses though :-)

Thanks for dropping by!

synical on :

If only more schools built more lead lined exam halls... which might come in handy as bomb shelters :-P

julian on :

LOL! Build them in soundproofed basements and they could also double over as party venues :-)

synical on :

...or padded rooms for the loonies, haha :-D

julian on :

So many possibilities... :-O

amy on :

im quite surprised that u admitted to cheating... given the taboo that most (especially teachers, lecturers and all others involved in academia)place on it.

but im not entirely innocent myself =p

julian on :

Hello there amy! :-) Nice to hear from you. Hope England is treating you well.

Well, I guess everyone has at least sneaked a peek on occasion. No point pretending to be a saint - nobody believes it anyway :-P

Really, the lesson I learnt is that the time spent preparing to cheat is just as well spent studying - and that you feel so much better when you get a good grade thanks to your own work.

amy on :

im loving England! but i do still miss home. nothing beats our 24hour mamaks! lol~

julian on :

Ya the food in England is pretty dire, though a lot better than it used to be (a scary thought I know :-P)

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