Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I did decide

I needed to, as the first exam of the semester is tomorrow and I needed something not-too-complicated to knit on. (Basketweave, no: too much attention has to be paid to each row, and when I tried knitting on it during an earlier exam, I messed up and had to undo a couple of rows).

I wound off the Vintage and started the CPH. I didn't get VERY far, but that's partly intentional - I want to do most, if not all, of the 4" of ribbing during the exam. (I will take my stitch markers and cable needle and all those accoutrements just in case I get past the ribbing). This is a smaller class and with one possible exception I don't think anyone seems tempted to cheat.

I gave a quiz the other day and there was one fellow I kept looking closely at to try to tell if his eyes were on his own paper. But I will solve that issue with Form A and Form B. And I've taken to handing out each exam INDIVIDUALLY  rather than counting off a stack and having them pass them down - I learned last semester that there are people in the class devious enough to quickly grab two of the same form from the stack and hand the identical form to the patsy (or accomplice) next to them.

It frustrates me that I have to be such a cop, and that I have to try to think deviously to figure out as many ways as possible that students might cheat (and confer with colleagues at other schools: it seems a current fad is to bring in a bottle of water where you have written notes under the label, and you can read them through the clear bottle). I know the old line about  "if you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway" but that doesn't extend to being naive, I guess. 

I could write a whole essay about cheating and plagiarism and how I think the high levels of both are indicative of our messed-up attitude towards education: that too many people see it as credentialing, that the diploma is like Dumbo's Feather, that people see the piece of paper at the end of the process as like a license to get a job rather than an indicator that they learned some important things along the way - and so people are willing and even eager to subvert the process. And I'll be d....d if I will unleash a student on med school or a state agency job or a teaching position who has in some way "fraudulently" gotten their diploma. If I catch someone cheating, I go after it. Because it would reflect badly on us if someone got out into the workforce and they couldn't do their stuff, not because we didn't "teach 'em good" but because they slimed their way through - it would not be clear to the employer that they hired a cheat rather than that our department wasn't good. 

Oh, I'm sure there are a number who slip through. And that frustrates me. And I don't think the old "cheaters never prosper" is necessarily true. Yes, sometimes the cheaters are caught later in their career, and their downfall is quite spectacular, but there also seem to be a fair number who are teflon-coated and manage to continue to keep their nice pension, or get a golden parachute, or get passed along to another position that pays well with some kind of hush-hush clause.And I think sometimes the people who are TOO honest wind up getting beaten down a bit by the system, or they find the deck stacked against them. But that's just life. I wouldn't use that as an excuse to be dishonest; there are things that are worth more than a more prestigious job or a fatter pay packet.

But at least I can knit while watching out for cheaters. And I think having the knitting with me will make me less likely to really go OFF on them if I catch one. (My policy: 0 the first time, if I catch the same person again I take it to the student judicial board. I've never caught anyone twice. That doesn't necessarily mean no one has cheated twice, but....)  

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