UPDATE : 2019.12.17 Tue 01:21
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Did you cheat on your midterms?
Cheating on tests and exams is a tradition as old as education. Dishonesty is a natural temptation of the human mind, and all of us are tempted. For this reason, two important questions will always be a part of education. "How can we stop people from trying to cheat?" and, "What should we think about cheating and cheaters?"
This has become a big issue these days among Korean students. Some students think, "What's the big deal? Everyone else does it." Others feel that cheating is unfair, and get very angry when they learn about others cheating. They say, "The cheater thinks he is just improving his score, but he is actually hurting all the other students who did not cheat." This is especially true in classes graded on relative system, as we often use at CWNU.
In my conversation classes, I often discuss the issue of cheating, and its effects on society. One of the first questions I ask is, "Have you ever cheated on a test or exam?" When I first began asking this question, I was shocked at how many people said yes. I guess what shocked me was not that so many people had cheated during their high school or university careers, but that they were willing to admit this in front of a group of classmates.
I imagine that an English conversation class makes people more honest about their pasts. Speaking in a second language feels like an imaginary world, separate from your real, everyday life. In this imaginary world, you don't have to worry about your reputation, or your mother learning that you cheated. So people just tell the truth about their cheating.
So how about you? Have you ever cheated on a test or exam during your high school or university life? And what do you think about people who cheat?
Here is my policy on cheating. During my exams, I always take all the students' cell phones, and put them on a desk at the front of the room. They can pick up their phones as they leave the room after the exam. And I always warn my students that if I catch them cheating, even in a "small" way, I will give them a score of zero for the exam.
My goal is not to be cruel to the students, but to reduce the temptation. As I said, cheating is a natural human weakness. Some educators think that since everyone feels the temptation to cheat, we have to be forgiving about cheaters. I disagree. I believe that if you make the punishment small, you increase the student's temptation to try it. So I make the punishment pretty severe, hoping that people will think twice before trying to cheat in my class.
Do my students cheat? I know they don't cheat using their cell phones. But I know that if someone really wants to cheat, there are many ingenious ways to do it. The best one I have ever heard was from a student who told me that when she was in high school, she scratched answers on the inside of her plastic eyeglass frames. Then, during the exam, she could just pull her glasses down a little and read the answers. No one ever suspected that she was cheating.
Great idea, but if she ever did that in my class, I would give her a zero.

Daren Jonescu  media@changwon.ac.kr

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