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Author Topic: Dealing with Cheaters (on exams)  (Read 33556 times)
pgryffindor
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« Reply #105 on: May 04, 2012, 1:21:04 pm »


I cannot believe this happened to me AGAIN. I desperately need advice.

Situation: In my introduction to engineering class, I am 100% positive a student cheated on one of the questions on his final exam. I know this because I give A and B versions of every exam, and this student, who had a B exam, had the A exam answer for one question. There is no way he could have gotten that answer unless he cheated. What really irks me is that the rest of his test is correct, and since the numbers in each question are entirely different on each version of the exam, I am confident he didn't cheat on the remaining questions. If he would have just left the stupid question blank, he would have received an 83 on the test and a B+ in the class.

Here is where the situation becomes messy. I have 3 exams in my class (2 mid-semester exams) and a final exam. This student missed the first exam for a documented medical emergency (he was in the hospital for appendicitis for a week). My policy is that I do not have make-up exams, but instead double count the final exam.

So this is problematic because if I stick to my policy and give the student a 0 on his final for cheating (and thus give him a 0 on his first exam), he will receive an F in the course.

Here are my options:
A. Stick to my policy and give him a 0 on the final and on his 1st exam. This will give him an F in the class.
B. Give him a 0 on the final, but double count his exam 2 grade (though the information on each test was vastly different). This will give him a C- in the class.
C. Give him a zero on the final exam and then create a new Exam 1 and make him take that. His final course grade would be determined based on what he gets on this new make-up and a 0 for the final exam.
D. Since he only cheated on one question and the rest of his exam was correct, make a penalty like the most he can receive on Exam 1 and the Final is a 50% for each. This also results in a C- for the course.
E. Send it to the honor council and let them decide. (Aside: We have two policies at my school. The first is the faculty disposition form. The faculty member fills out this form, assigns whatever grade the faculty sees fit in regards ti academic dishonesty, has the student sign the form, and it goes in the student's file. If the student has 2 faculty disposition forms filled out on them, the case automatically goes to the honor council. The second policy is send the case immediately to the honor council and let them determine a punishment).

WWFD????

Additionally, I am about to send an email to the student requesting a meeting immediately. Before I do so, does anyone have good verbiage I could steal as to what information I should contain in the email? Do you typically tell students you suspect cheating in the email or wait to spring that on them during the meeting?

Any advice you have would be GREATLY appreciated.

Stick to your policy!  Be strong!

I have no idea how many questions Cheater McCheater cheated on. I just know I had incontrovertible evidence that he cheated. And, I followed my policy to the letter.  Anything else is just not justice and anything else can get you in trouble if it goes to honor council as an appeal. Follow. Your. Policy. To the letter.

You don't KNOW that he only cheated on that question. He could have been copying someone else on some of the other questions. You really don't know. You DO know that he cheated. He cheated on an exam that was very high stakes for him and he should suffer the consequences according to your syllabus policy.

What you have here is not messy. You have a clear-cut case of cheating and your only job is to record the score of 0% in whatever places (two places apparently) in your gradesheet that it belongs.

Why would you abdicate your policy into the hands of the honor council? That's wimpy. What do you have the policy for if not such a time as this?

A. Stick to your policy!  Be strong! (and CERTAINLY NOT B...).





Octo, thank you for being the voice of reason. It sucks because I like this student, but you're right. To be fair to all, I have to stick to my policy.

Grrr. Why do these students do this?
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #106 on: May 04, 2012, 1:46:41 pm »

Reading your post, I am not sure that I know how it is you know he cheated on this one particular question.  There is no possibility he just got the question wrong, maybe even just made up a wild guess?  Exactly how different was the question from the question on the B exam, anyhow?  My point is, methinks he will argue he did not cheat, and I am wondering what proof you will be able to offer the dean, etc., to demonstrate that he did... surely he is not guilty of cheating just because you say he is, and that is that...?
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pgryffindor
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Posts: 73

Why is all the rum gone?


« Reply #107 on: May 04, 2012, 1:52:40 pm »

Reading your post, I am not sure that I know how it is you know he cheated on this one particular question.  There is no possibility he just got the question wrong, maybe even just made up a wild guess?  Exactly how different was the question from the question on the B exam, anyhow?  My point is, methinks he will argue he did not cheat, and I am wondering what proof you will be able to offer the dean, etc., to demonstrate that he did... surely he is not guilty of cheating just because you say he is, and that is that...?

There is no possible way, even with a wild guess, he could have gotten an answer identical to Exam A. No way. The A and B versions are so vastly different that for him to get the A answer (down to 4 decimal places with all the work the exact same) is just not statistically possible.

But you're right. He might try to argue that he didn't cheat.

If he does do that, then I'll have to figure out my next step.

thoughts anyone?
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #108 on: May 04, 2012, 1:58:44 pm »

Ok, but if you want to say he did cheat, you would want to argue how he did so-- did you proctor the exam or was it on the honor system?  If you or another proctor were in the room, did you see him looking at another student's paper, a student who would have had the A exam?
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wet_blanket
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« Reply #109 on: May 04, 2012, 2:17:54 pm »


Here are my options:
A. Stick to my policy and give him a 0 on the final and on his 1st exam. This will give him an F in the class.
B. Give him a 0 on the final, but double count his exam 2 grade (though the information on each test was vastly different). This will give him a C- in the class.
C. Give him a zero on the final exam and then create a new Exam 1 and make him take that. His final course grade would be determined based on what he gets on this new make-up and a 0 for the final exam.
D. Since he only cheated on one question and the rest of his exam was correct, make a penalty like the most he can receive on Exam 1 and the Final is a 50% for each. This also results in a C- for the course.
E. Send it to the honor council and let them decide. (Aside: We have two policies at my school. The first is the faculty disposition form. The faculty member fills out this form, assigns whatever grade the faculty sees fit in regards ti academic dishonesty, has the student sign the form, and it goes in the student's file. If the student has 2 faculty disposition forms filled out on them, the case automatically goes to the honor council. The second policy is send the case immediately to the honor council and let them determine a punishment).


I'm conflicted on this one.  I want Cheaty punished.  But I'm concerned that the circumstances make it so that his punishment is determined by which exam he cheated on, not just the fact that he cheated.  That is, if he had cheated on Exam 2 instead of Exam 3, he would have had a different punishment.

Not that I see a solution to this, just wanted to point it out.
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ptarmigan
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« Reply #110 on: May 04, 2012, 2:19:30 pm »


Here are my options:
A. Stick to my policy and give him a 0 on the final and on his 1st exam. This will give him an F in the class.
B. Give him a 0 on the final, but double count his exam 2 grade (though the information on each test was vastly different). This will give him a C- in the class.
C. Give him a zero on the final exam and then create a new Exam 1 and make him take that. His final course grade would be determined based on what he gets on this new make-up and a 0 for the final exam.
D. Since he only cheated on one question and the rest of his exam was correct, make a penalty like the most he can receive on Exam 1 and the Final is a 50% for each. This also results in a C- for the course.
E. Send it to the honor council and let them decide. (Aside: We have two policies at my school. The first is the faculty disposition form. The faculty member fills out this form, assigns whatever grade the faculty sees fit in regards ti academic dishonesty, has the student sign the form, and it goes in the student's file. If the student has 2 faculty disposition forms filled out on them, the case automatically goes to the honor council. The second policy is send the case immediately to the honor council and let them determine a punishment).


I'm conflicted on this one.  I want Cheaty punished.  But I'm concerned that the circumstances make it so that his punishment is determined by which exam he cheated on, not just the fact that he cheated.  That is, if he had cheated on Exam 2 instead of Exam 3, he would have had a different punishment.

Not that I see a solution to this, just wanted to point it out.

That's true. But successfully cheating on this exam would also have given him more bang for the buck than successfully cheating on Exam 2. Higher reward, higher risk.
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octoprof
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« Reply #111 on: May 04, 2012, 2:49:37 pm »

Reading your post, I am not sure that I know how it is you know he cheated on this one particular question.  There is no possibility he just got the question wrong, maybe even just made up a wild guess?  Exactly how different was the question from the question on the B exam, anyhow?  My point is, methinks he will argue he did not cheat, and I am wondering what proof you will be able to offer the dean, etc., to demonstrate that he did... surely he is not guilty of cheating just because you say he is, and that is that...?

There is no possible way, even with a wild guess, he could have gotten an answer identical to Exam A. No way. The A and B versions are so vastly different that for him to get the A answer (down to 4 decimal places with all the work the exact same) is just not statistically possible.

But you're right. He might try to argue that he didn't cheat.

If he does do that, then I'll have to figure out my next step.

thoughts anyone?

He can argue all he wants but it matters not to you. It may matter to the Honor Committee. But, not to you. You have what you think is incontrovertible evidence of cheating (sounds that way to me). So, you do the paperwork and follow your policy and assign the F or whatever.

He doesn't get to argue with you (and $10 says he won't). He can, however, appeal to the Honor Committee, probably two bases, 1) that he didn't cheat (which is darn hard for him to say!), and 2) that your penalty is  wrong (even if it is in your syllabus?).

But, he's no longer your problem at that point. You've done your due diligence (had a policy in the syllabus, caught him cheating, applied said policy).

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octoprof
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« Reply #112 on: May 04, 2012, 2:51:10 pm »


I cannot believe this happened to me AGAIN. I desperately need advice.

Situation: In my introduction to engineering class, I am 100% positive a student cheated on one of the questions on his final exam. I know this because I give A and B versions of every exam, and this student, who had a B exam, had the A exam answer for one question. There is no way he could have gotten that answer unless he cheated. What really irks me is that the rest of his test is correct, and since the numbers in each question are entirely different on each version of the exam, I am confident he didn't cheat on the remaining questions. If he would have just left the stupid question blank, he would have received an 83 on the test and a B+ in the class.

Here is where the situation becomes messy. I have 3 exams in my class (2 mid-semester exams) and a final exam. This student missed the first exam for a documented medical emergency (he was in the hospital for appendicitis for a week). My policy is that I do not have make-up exams, but instead double count the final exam.

So this is problematic because if I stick to my policy and give the student a 0 on his final for cheating (and thus give him a 0 on his first exam), he will receive an F in the course.

Here are my options:
A. Stick to my policy and give him a 0 on the final and on his 1st exam. This will give him an F in the class.
B. Give him a 0 on the final, but double count his exam 2 grade (though the information on each test was vastly different). This will give him a C- in the class.
C. Give him a zero on the final exam and then create a new Exam 1 and make him take that. His final course grade would be determined based on what he gets on this new make-up and a 0 for the final exam.
D. Since he only cheated on one question and the rest of his exam was correct, make a penalty like the most he can receive on Exam 1 and the Final is a 50% for each. This also results in a C- for the course.
E. Send it to the honor council and let them decide. (Aside: We have two policies at my school. The first is the faculty disposition form. The faculty member fills out this form, assigns whatever grade the faculty sees fit in regards ti academic dishonesty, has the student sign the form, and it goes in the student's file. If the student has 2 faculty disposition forms filled out on them, the case automatically goes to the honor council. The second policy is send the case immediately to the honor council and let them determine a punishment).

WWFD????

Additionally, I am about to send an email to the student requesting a meeting immediately. Before I do so, does anyone have good verbiage I could steal as to what information I should contain in the email? Do you typically tell students you suspect cheating in the email or wait to spring that on them during the meeting?

Any advice you have would be GREATLY appreciated.

Stick to your policy!  Be strong!

I have no idea how many questions Cheater McCheater cheated on. I just know I had incontrovertible evidence that he cheated. And, I followed my policy to the letter.  Anything else is just not justice and anything else can get you in trouble if it goes to honor council as an appeal. Follow. Your. Policy. To the letter.

You don't KNOW that he only cheated on that question. He could have been copying someone else on some of the other questions. You really don't know. You DO know that he cheated. He cheated on an exam that was very high stakes for him and he should suffer the consequences according to your syllabus policy.

What you have here is not messy. You have a clear-cut case of cheating and your only job is to record the score of 0% in whatever places (two places apparently) in your gradesheet that it belongs.

Why would you abdicate your policy into the hands of the honor council? That's wimpy. What do you have the policy for if not such a time as this?

A. Stick to your policy!  Be strong! (and CERTAINLY NOT B...).





Octo, thank you for being the voice of reason. It sucks because I like this student, but you're right. To be fair to all, I have to stick to my policy.

Grrr. Why do these students do this?

You know what, I really like Cheater Boy. I'll teach in again next term. He's very nice, personable, polite, neatly dressed, and generally performs well in class. However, he cheated and he had to suffer the consequences.

The slate for him is clean next term, of course.
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zuzu_
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« Reply #113 on: May 04, 2012, 2:51:59 pm »

You have GOT to use good interrogation techniques if you want to catch him.

Confidently say, "I know you cheated on this exam. This is your one and only chance to explain yourself." And then repeat as necessary.

And then if that doesn't work, try this lie detector technique:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHhxZ4BWeBQ
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octoprof
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« Reply #114 on: May 04, 2012, 2:52:54 pm »

You have GOT to use good interrogation techniques if you want to catch him.

Confidently say, "I know you cheated on this exam. This is your one and only chance to explain yourself." And then repeat as necessary.

And then if that doesn't work, try this lie detector technique:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHhxZ4BWeBQ


He's already been caught. He doesn't need to be interrogated.
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ALL HAIL TO THE OCTO!!!

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usukprof
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.


« Reply #115 on: May 04, 2012, 3:02:09 pm »

But it's a lot easier if you get them to admit what they've done in writing.  If I'm certain that it is a student's first offense I'm likely to go a bit lenient, while scaring the crap out of them so that they never do it again.  In this case I might give the C which is still a penalty, rather than the F that does permanent damage.  This, of course depends on the real contrition and instilling a fear of God in the kid so that I'm convinced that it will not likely happen again (backed up with the letter in his departmental file that will ensure dismissal from the school if it does happen again). 
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kaysixteen
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« Reply #116 on: May 04, 2012, 3:06:07 pm »

He actually hasn't been caught-- the professor merely believes there is no possibility of his innocence.  I am less than certain such an argument will hold adequate weight with the powers that be.
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frogfactory
Totally Metal
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« Reply #117 on: May 04, 2012, 3:17:13 pm »

He actually hasn't been caught-- the professor merely believes there is no possibility of his innocence.  I am less than certain such an argument will hold adequate weight with the powers that be.

Can you think of an alternative explanation for how he answered a question that was not on his exam sheet, kay?
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geonerd
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« Reply #118 on: May 04, 2012, 3:47:40 pm »

He actually hasn't been caught-- the professor merely believes there is no possibility of his innocence.  I am less than certain such an argument will hold adequate weight with the powers that be.

Can you think of an alternative explanation for how he answered a question that was not on his exam sheet, kay?

And to a precision of 4 decimal places?
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octoprof
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« Reply #119 on: May 04, 2012, 4:01:19 pm »

But it's a lot easier if you get them to admit what they've done in writing.  If I'm certain that it is a student's first offense I'm likely to go a bit lenient, while scaring the crap out of them so that they never do it again.  In this case I might give the C which is still a penalty, rather than the F that does permanent damage.  This, of course depends on the real contrition and instilling a fear of God in the kid so that I'm convinced that it will not likely happen again (backed up with the letter in his departmental file that will ensure dismissal from the school if it does happen again). 

But you have no way of knowing if it is his first offense. You only know what happened in  your course, presumably.

I don't understand having a policy on the syllabus and not following it.
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Love your neighbor.

Your new cephaloverlord.
ALL HAIL TO THE OCTO!!!

When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.
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