Archive for the ‘tests’ Category

The Semester Has Officially Started….And Yet Another Cheating Scandal

In cheating, Education, institutional responsibilities, integrity, tests on September 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

What is it about learning that inspires cheating? If seems that if you make it to Harvard, you are one of the “smartest [people] in the room.” Picture from movie: Smartestguysintheroom Yet the latest from Harvard is about a number of students who cheated on a take home exam. And according to MIT behavioral economist Dr. Ariely’s blog, there were LOTS of students who (allegedly) cheated–125!! Students claim that they thought collaboration was allowed (although the exam instructions said something different) because they collaborated for other things during class, they skipped lectures and shared notes and because the student guidebook, the Q Guide,  said students in the past had collaborated with the teaching fellows (of course, that’s probably why the instructor included the statement NOT to collaborate!). (Source of this student perspective: Harvard Students Fighting Allegations of Cheating on Exam).  And these are students that educators claim are the brightest and best–that’s how they merited entry into Harvard.

How can educational institutions encourage learning without promoting cheating? I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the “smartest people in the room” remained there and graduated by cheating. Maybe we need to figure out  different ways to measure intelligence.


Twearning: And the Learning Goes On…..Exam 2

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, teaching with technology, technology, tests on April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Good news. Look at the chart! Twitter in the classroom seems to work; even with the more complicated materials. This chart shows that the spring 2012 grades lean toward As and Bs.


The second exam is more difficult than the first because it requires more application of concepts to scenarios and less of the basics. You can see from the chart that in Spring 2012 there were more As (2, instead of none in Spring 2011).  There were an equal number of “Bs” in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012. There were more Cs in Spring 2012 then Spring 2011 (7, instead of 4 in Spring 2011) and fewer Ds and Fs. This result is consistent with the results of Exam 1.

So, what does this mean? Grades are one measure of determining whether learning has occurred. To the extent that exam scores improved over last year, I have evidence that using Twitter may have had an impact. As I noted in the earlier post, though, this result may not be terribly surprising in light of the fact that requiring Twitter required an extra review of the material (because students, in groups, had to summarize the weekly tweets and present those summaries to the class).

Then again, the fact that I permitted students to have their cell phones cell phoneavailable during class demonstrates that, at least at this level, and at least with a small class, that it did not hurt overall class performance on exams. It is equivalent too, in the old days (when I was a student), to students reading a newspaper reading_a_newspaperduring class (some faculty permitted it, some didn’t) or passing notes to other students. Students are distracted, at least for that time, but it didn’t hurt their overall performance.

Keep tuning in: students must turn in ePortfolios and final projects later….

Oh, No, We Won’t Go-Academia and Digital Information

In Education, institutional responsibilities, tests on April 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

Digital information everywhere. Digital books. Digital images. Digital videos. Digital…but not in the academy. In the academy we still place extraordinary attention to print media as the basis for tenure and promotion. We ignore the digital revolution that has occurred all around us.


Instead, the structures of universities often fail to reward and champion digital innovators, particularly in guidelines for promotion and authorship that privilege traditional scholarship.

If we do not create mechanisms that reward faculty and students who form digital-research communities, then innovation may bypass universities entirely, putting us at risk of falling behind institutes, private companies, and even individuals.

Randolph Hall, Vice President for Research at USC, made this point in a recent article titled Scholarship, Liberated from Paper at Last in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He notes that after discussion with faculty at his institution, the faculty agreed to include revise the process for tenure and promotion to include recognition of the value of a faculty member’s digital research.

Change occurs slowly in academic institutions. I’ve made that point in other posts. You would think academia would be at the forefront of forging new directions and new research areas. You would think that academia would be the first to devise new ways of thinking about how people learn and in fostering an environment of analyzing tradition and also challenging tradition. If you thought that, you would be wrong. Academia is tied down to traditional methods despite the progress in the rest of society. For example, information forwarded for academic tenure and review at my university is still wedded to paper documents. The process includes, for example, instructions on how the faculty member should label his or her [paper] binder. So, even though all the documents are created electronically, they must be converted to paper for the review. ePortfolios (see .e.g. Trent Babson’s ePortfolio links) or programs like LiveBinder could allow for that same information to be provided in electronic form.

u_s__supreme_courtWhy are academic institutions wedded to paper? Paper is perceived as more permanent; however there are ways to preserve electronic documents. And if the courts permit electronic filing of documents (see e.g. e-filing of electronic briefs) where finances and other matters are at stake, then our University should recognize the value of electronic documents. Also, if the concern is the rigor of the scholarship, public exposure and peer review can help to increase rigor. Research that is available to the public helps to promote additional learning for the public and for the researcher. It could also lead to additional research and creative use of that research.

So, as noted in the Hall article, academia must recognize the value of digital research. Hall notes that Universities like Harvard have createst tubested ways to disseminate research to the public more quickly so that others can read and comment on it. My own experience in posting on SlideShare and on this blog has allowed me to present research findings, (e.g. results of using Twitter in the classroom) to many others. I have had 80 views on a presentation on plagiarism-far more than attended the actual presentation. And with more exposure, I have more opportunity to learn more, test my research and work to make it better.  That’s much more exposure than posting the article in a paper journal that requires that people go to a physical library to access it.

Cheating in Sports Begins Early

In cheating, Education, sports, tests on March 30, 2012 at 11:16 am

In the article Testing the Limits of Academic Fraud in Sports, Chronicle author Wolverton discusses recent reports about the increase in ACT and SAT scores for athletes, the phenomenon that athletes who seem to be academically qualified “earn” high test scores and the efforts by ACT and SAT test administrators are taking to improve test security.

Cheating to win seems to start early. It seems to be part of U.S. culture to “win at all costs” and that you measure success only by the size of the wallet. It’s not hard to imagine those students participating in a bounty system. Even if the student didn’t initiative it, that student would participate without question.

Disheartening, but not surprising.