Student’s rights …including to cheat?

UPDATED: A Professor in Florida claimed that a third of his students cheated.  It now appears he has been using the same exam for many years and the so-called cheaters may simply have studied previous exams.  Notes here and here (a video of Professor Quin with annotations from students). From the former link:

The perception of exactly what happened leading up to the midterm has become a point of contention. What is clear is that some students gained access to a bank of tests that was maintained by the publisher of the textbook that Quinn used. They distributed the test to hundreds of their fellow students, some of whom say they thought they were receiving a study guide like any other — not a copy of the actual test.

Several students have protested that they had no intention to cheat. These students say that they only became aware that they had more information than they should have when they took the actual test, realized they had seen the questions before, and knew the answers. Leading up to the exam, some said they were simply making use of available resources to study, as the editors of the Central Florida Future, the student newspaper at UCF, wrote in a recent editorial. “These students studied pertinent material and earned high grades,” the editors wrote, marking the paper’s more muted stance on the issue after initially condemning the students. “This same information could have most likely been found in their textbook or course material. At this point, we’re not sure whether this constitutes cheating.”



I saw two interesting articles about students and teaching today.

The first was about a Florida college Professor who found a third of his students cheated on a test. It is a video, but I will transcribe a few interesting bits.

“As many as 200 students got the answers to a midterm test in advance.” This clearly is a large cheating scandal and I can’t recall how big the one in BC, Canada a few years ago was.  One question I have is ‘How did the students get the answers in advance?’  If the professor left them in the classroom, for example, I would still say the students cheated but they would not be as morally wrong as if they had broken into the prof’s office or hacked his computer.

“The professor used statistics to determine exactly who cheated…” That’s interesting and kind of cool.

“Closed circuit cameras run throughout the testing centers.”

“Professor Quinn has given the cheating students a choice.  Confess by midnight tonight and take an ethics seminar or stay quiet and risk expulsion.”

Student: This is college.  Everyone cheats and everyone cheats in life…. They’re making a witch-hunt…as if it’s to teach us some kind of moral lesson.

I’d say this student needs a few moral lessons.

For the record, I never cheated in university and I have the grades to prove it.


The second article is one translated by Korea Beat.  Teachers no longer have the right to use corporal punishment and the article makes them seem lost.  Is half of teacher’s college here about how best to beat someone?  The teachers seem incapable of thinking of alternatives.

At high school “A” in Seoul on the 1st, a student who was scolded for acting up replied, “there’s no corporal punishment starting today, right? We have cellphones.” The student continued, “you can’t make me kneel down either, so you can’t make me pay attention to the lesson.” A teacher at high school “B”, which has introduced a system of demerits, handed out demerits to a student found using a cellphone during class, and the student started a physical tussle. The student said, “how can you give me demerits if you can’t hit my legs and take away the phone like in the past?” The teacher added, “there’s no corporal punishment anymore somany more students are acting up in class.”

I had no idea that taking a cell phone was a form of corporal punishment.

Schools have been offered two alternatives to corporal punishment: self-reflection rooms and a demerit system.

However, teachers believe the operation of self-reflection rooms to be difficult. A teacher at middle school “E” said, “there is no space to use for a self-reflection room and nobody has been selected to oversee it… I’m worried that sending students to the room will violate their educational rights.” Many pointed out the limits of demerits as an alternative to corporal punishment.

I guess someone does need to ensure the student actually does go to the room and not to the soccer field or the like.  I somehow get the feeling that no one planned ahead for this.  I have some sympathy for the lack of planning.  Corporal punishment was a barbaric system and should have been stopped as soon as possible, even if alternatives were not fully worked out.  Firemen don’t keep families in burning buildings because a proper reception committee isn’t ready on the street.

Still, people have been discussing banning corporal punishment for years.  Has no one really run a test program to see what alternatives worked?

On the subject of demerits, I have sympathy with the teachers.  At a recent camp, I had one student very quickly work himself into a deep hole demerit-wise.  Once you reach minus 1000, there is little incentive to try to recover.

The Seoul Office of Education plans, by the end of December, to place counsellors in schools that are having trouble implementing self-reflection rooms. An official with the Office said, “we will provide information related to self-reflection rooms… we emphasize that the first place for students to be counselled is in the classroom, and letters of apology may be written in the self-reflection rooms.”

At the schools some called this “too late”. One middle school teacher said, “there is no manual that instructs us how to handle every issue… teachers are worried students will cut class.”

The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations (한국교원단체총연합회) sent a letter that day saying, “public education is not being upheld when there is no way to punish students who interrupt class and infringe on other students’ educational rights.”

I like the plans the Seoul Office of Education has, but they would be better implemented now, it would seem.

On the “There is no manual that instructs us how to handle every issue” issue: Are Korean teachers really so unable to think for themselves?

I guess I can commend the KFTA on staying on-message.  They are a teacher’s union and the students are not their concern. Read the end of the article to learn more about the KFTA.

I am trying to remember my elementary school days and how discipline worked.  I think that, in the main, it never occurred to me to rebel. If, or probably when, I did need disciplining, my parents were completely willing to back up the teachers and if the teachers felt I needed discipline, my parents would mete it out.  Thanks, mom, if you’re reading this.

At my school the rumour was that the Principal, Mr Mahon,  had a heavy, thick strap in his office, but the only person rumour said he used it on was his son.

We did have a pretty active phys. ed. program and our recesses were frequent enough and long enough that we burned off a lot of excess energy outside of class.

ADDED the next day:  apparently, corporal punishment still goes on in Alabama.

From WHNT News:

Payton attends Plainview Elementary and is in the seventh grade. Recently, Lewis claims her son came home from school with severe bruises and welts on his behind. Melissa Lewis said her son was upset, “Mom look at my butt and see if there is something wrong with it? He dropped his pants and I said wow what happened? He said I got paddled because I did not pass my science test.”

WHNT NEWS 19 took Lewis’ concerns to Plainview Elementary Principal Ronald Bell. We asked Bell if there were any specific rules surrounding the severity of paddling and what he considers excessive. He couldn’t give us a definitive answer but did say teachers need to be mindful when using physical force. Bell said, “Every time you draw back a paddle that is something that needs to be on the mind of the teacher that’s doing the paddling.”

WHNT NEWS 19 called the DeKalb County Superintendent’s office more than a dozen times to ask about the rules and regulations surrounding corporal punishment. They refused to answer our questions but did say they follow Alabama state laws. We called the Alabama Department of Education and officials told WHNT NEWS 19 that corporal punishment “is authorized under the policies and guidelines developed by the local board of education.”

Via Pharyngula and I note the poll at the WHNT website still shows around 50% accept corporal punishment even after Pharyngulation – Pharyngula’s readers love to attack such polls and there are lots of them.


On a completely different subject, I saw an interesting audio illusion online.  Here is the video.  It’s remarkable how much your eyes control what you think you hear.



One Response to “Student’s rights …including to cheat?”

  1. Clay Boggess Says:

    Kudos to the professor for handling this situation eloquently and even turning this situation into an object lesson by providing an alternative way out for the cheating students. I feel sorry for the student who said, “This is college. Everyone cheats and everyone cheats in life….” It doesn’t sound like they will learn a valuable lesson from this after all. What a shame!

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