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.


Re: Student’s rights …including to cheat?

I think you are absolutly right. I work at an elementary school, and I have to think of ways of punishing the children. In my opinion, the best way is to punish the entire group for one person's mistake. Sounds super harsh, but this is kind of a legalist's (A chinese philosophy) view of punishment. I would never hit a student, no matter how angry I am. However, instead, I take away their free time. I am lucky that my school has several breaktimes and the population is very small.

However, I think there are some things that Korean schools need to get right. First, especially for elementary school, but also middle and high schools, there does need to be a recess. Kids need to burn their energy. It helps them focus if they are more relaxed after a recess.

Second, the desks and chairs in these schools are not the best for the children, I think. They are fairly small, and way too lighweight. I know that sounds strange, but having a bigger desk that isn't as easy to move helps ground the students. They begin to question if the desk is supposed to be moved.

Third, there needs to be a system where a child "CAN" fail. I mean, the system now does not allow any child to fail, which means that the child can show zero effort and still pass. As a child, I was worried about four things. Detention, Suspension, Expultion, and  being held back a year. That was scary stuff. And it helped me behave, for what little I did.

Also, I felt like education was fun because I got a chance to think, but this system removes all doubt between what is right and wrong, and because of that, everything is a fact memorizing, sterile, no fun form of education. How can anybody stay focued if they only have that. The system needs to engage the students in critical thinking. I liked being challanged and able to voice my own opinion. I'd much rather work on a two page paper that gives my opinion about a historical event or an idea or anything than to sit down and memorize 50 pages of a textbook and then fill in the blanks on the test that copy the textbook word for word. I am not saying that it would be easy, but t work for so many American and Canadian children.

I have had a few students who lived in the US or in Canada and they all tell me the same thing. Korean education is boring and they don't learn, just memorize. They feel like there is no internalization, just memorization.

It isn't the fault of the Korean teachers either. They want to teach great things to their students, but they are stuck to the national program. They have little wiggle room in changing that. The Ministry of Education has to both be conservative and promote "Korean-ness" but they have to also appear to be "progressive." I am not saying that Korean's cannot be progressive, but the more you hold onto tradition, the less progress you can make. They are opposites. For example, the cleaner your house is does not make it more dirty. Just doesn't work. Of course, Korea is finally a truely democratic country, and some people want one, and others want the other, but to truely be great, they have to decide which traditions are essencial in keeping and which new ideas they want to introduce.

When I talked with some of the staff at my previous elementary school, they said that they had a lot of fear of failure in their school, so that is how they succeeded, but as a child, I don't remember failure as my main motivator. I remember being motivated by my mom always asking me what I learned, what I did, and having some kind of contact with the teachers to make sure I am on track. She always accepted the teacher's punishments and even made sure to make them worse when I got home. No tv, no computer, no phone, no friends. You know, being grounded. Thats what kept me on track enough to be able to succeed well enough to become a teacher myself.

So, as you can guess, my next criticism is of this "god" complex a lot of parents have. They view their children as geniuses. I wasn't super smart as a child, and my mom was ok with that. For her, she saw that I needed dicipline and happiness. Education is a key to happiness, but not THE key. And money does not always bring happiness either. I'd rather be a teacher here, as I am now, making a lot less than I would in the US, because I am happy to come to work everyday. And as a child, I was happy to go to school (not everyday, but enough that it also motivated me to keep going). But if education has to be an evil chore, why would a student want to take it to the next level?

So bringing my post back around to the beginning, I think punishment is necessary, however, smacking a kid upside the head doesn't help much. If anything, it makes the situation worse. Having a punishment that teaches the child what the problem is goes a lot furter than letting out anger by hitting a child, yelling at a child, or wacking at their legs like you have a machete and you are chopping down a palm tree. Students must respect the teacher, and the teacher must respect the students. They together have to respect the punishments and the education. Only at that time, can progress be made.

Re: Student’s rights …including to cheat?

 Like Al Bundy my hero says; it's not considered cheating unless you get caught.

I encourage cheating at the university level..why? because those who cheat do so off of their stupid friend in most caes. They can share all the wrong answers, that takes care of the Cs.  

Re: Student’s rights …including to cheat?

Married with Children is one of the longest running sitcoms in TV history (11 seasons), the kid parent hate thing was mutual, he owned a business and his wife had big tits. That's good enough for me. 

Re: Student’s rights …including to cheat?

The, "I encourage cheating," comment was so stupid I don't even know how to reply to it so I won't, other than to say it was really stupid.

  If you set up a society where people are expected to do things exactly the same way without ever really thinking about it you can't really be too shocked when they don't know what to do in a situation they haven't been trained for.

Cheating is rampant here, (possibly everywhere?) and the solution is to convince students that what they are doing isn't really any easier than learning the material.  It's hard.  I'm not the world's greatest teacher but when I see kids copying when I know that they  understand the material it's as simple as reminding them that they are smart enough to do it themselves.  

Caring a little bit doesn't hurt anyone and it doesn't make you weak.  There is so much posturing in these comment sections and it pisses me off.  Don't expect your students to suck and most times they won't.        

Re: Student’s rights …including to cheat?

So you don't know how to respond but you responded anyway and then you say the entire society is cheating and that's just the way it is but I'm dumb to allow cheating???...

better you don't reply Colin. You keep banging out those classes at whatever place you work and play keystone cops running around telling the students the sky is falling and how cheating is so awful. Why re-invent the wheel? use the universal cheating that you made so apparently clear to your advantage like I do. Do you not understand the logic? idiots cheat from other idiots, get it now?

I don't really think you have spent much time in the classroom at college or university level.   Like i said, stick to teaching your high level advanced morals to kindy kids.