I am dismally behind in updates about our personalized classroom. Between inclement weather days, end of the semester, and my coaching responsibilities, I haven't had much time to sit down and summarize what we have going on. Apologies.
However, amidst all those things, I encountered an issue that I wanted to share. One that I know most teachers struggle with. Particularly, in the digital, device-driven age.
Personalization Tip #8
I don't want to say cheating is inevitable, but... cheating is inevitable. Being proactive is the best you can do.
Because I use a self-paced format, student assess at different times. This creates the obvious issue that some kids will complete assessments before others and even get feedback. There isn't much keeping them from sharing their responses with others. And I'm certainly not going to create a unique version of the assessment for each student.
As the semester ended, I had a student who was very near failing. In all honesty, she needed to be proficient in the final unit to even pass. I'm sure many of you know that when put under such pressure, students get desperate. All the re-attempts and supports can't do much when a student has placed themselves in a position such as this one.
So I guess I wasn't surprised when I saw that her answers were identical to another students. (Like... copy and pasted). My initial reaction was to laugh - seeing as neither response was accurate. Then, I had to consider how to approach it. Giving her a zero would mean failing the entire semester, and there was only one day left.
If you've ever been in a similar situation, I am sure you understand the frustration. There were many ways this student could have avoided this situation - possibly failing - throughout the semester. She did not. There was many opportunities in class to get help on this unit. She did not. The strict authoritarian in me is always ready with a "Sucks to suck" response. The human in me just can't.
So I revised the assessment to use a new sample essay. Gave the two offenders a specific time to come and re-attempt the assessment. And ultimately, both passed.
For the next few days, I obsessed about preventing such behavior in the future. Do I need to lock their iPads down when they complete assessments. Do they need to do all of them in front of me? Do I need to explicitly write when they can and cannot get help from others?
While I will be making some changes for the new semester, I came to a clear conclusion. No matter how intentional I am about preventing cheating, there is always going to be someone more determined to cheat. In talking to students in other contexts, they can give me a host of creative ways students cheat - things that I would never anticipate. The thought of combatting all of these possible methods is exhausting to even think about.
Instead, my approach has been to be proactive as I can, and vigilant when assessing work. Here are some of the ways I mitigate cheating in a personalized classroom: