Cheating- Where do we draw the line?

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Laura Smith on 26-01-2010

In this age of global collaboration and digital access, the way we process and use information has changed.  It is not as critical to memorize facts, because just about anything can be looked up on the Internet!  I have been telling my students for years:”I don’t expect you to know everything, but I do expect you to know HOW TO FIND IT!”

An interesting thing happened at my school this week.  Two of the best and most well-behaved students in the school were suspended for cheating.  It seemed so innocent- the one student asked the other to see her paper, and she gave it to her.  To be fair, I’m not sure of the exact details, whether the one girl had not done her work and was copying, or whether she was checking her answers- but I know the teachers would not have suspended them if it was not serious.  You see, we have a no-tolerance policy when it comes to two things- bullying and cheating.

So, about cheating…I’m wondering where we draw the line?  I recently read a post by Shelly Terrell in which she mentioned possibly encouraging your students to use their cell phones during tests because “your classmates are your lifelines.”  I’m not disagreeing, it just made me think.  Other teachers give tests and allow the students to look up answers on the internet while they work.  So how is this okay in some schools, but in others the simple act of peeking at someone else’s paper gets you suspended?  If students can get help from their friends and the internet during a test, what IS cheating anymore?I’m not sure I know the answer to this question.  What do you think?


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