Kids These Days (sheesh)….

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Net Gen kids cheat, they say….

OK, this annoys me.  Apparently, we learn very little through the millennia.

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” ( Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato ~400BC)

Valerie Milliron and Kent Sandoe, Innovate, Vol.4 No 6
Academic integrity is the cornerstone of the best we have to offer in higher education. Integrity flourishes in an environment that encourages mutual respect, fairness, trust, responsibility, and a love of learning and that is maintained by safeguards like clear expectations, fair and relevant assessments, and vigilant course management (McCabe and Pavela 2004). Compelling evidence of widespread academic dishonesty among Net-Generation students threatens to undermine both the environment of trust that nourishes integrity and the safeguards that ensure it.

Net-Generation students’ disregard of societal norms regarding academic honesty coupled with their nearly constant connectivity to each other can severely undermine assessment, whether it is done online or via more traditional methods (Exhibit 1). Our experience with unauthorized online quiz collaboration demonstrates how students can subvert the quality of online grading and how initial infractions can spread to pollute the learning environment, raising the question of whether the grades assigned are valid measures of what the enrolled student has learned. The results of our study reinforce the importance of using the latest technology to design a more secure learning environment and foster an appreciation for academic integrity.”

Seems to me there are at least two problems that are skewing the results here.

First, after reading the article and some of the exhibits, I have to wonder if the problem is not that we are defining ‘cheating’ in a manner not appropriate for the times?
In one exhibit, students were told they could not work together so for that study students working together was considered cheating. Whether they become future academics or other professionals, these students will end up working in teams for the rest of their careers. It doesn’t make any sense to call that cheating.

The other problem – and one that is not given nearly as much scrutiny – has to do with the kinds of test students are given and the manner in which many faculty create them. I have been in academia for 30 years, and I rarely come across faculty who take the time to create good exams. Many routinely recycle the same questions year after year; they use multiple choice exams because they are easy to mark but they do not take the time to make sure their questions are good ones; and they use strategies for safeguarding their exams that were appropriate 40 years ago but make little sense now. Given that, it is not surprising that students have little respect for exams or the system that perpetuates this approach. How we as academics approach assessment must change, and when it does, how we define cheating will necessarily also change as will the students’ reaction to it.

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