Thursday, March 7, 2013

Leona's Continuing Adventures.

I gave a quiz in my Survey of Rodents yesterday. I show them a picture of a rodent, they identify it, and they answer one additional question about it. Most of the time, the follow-up question can tell a smart test-taker which rodent is the correct one before they even see the picture. (For example, why does this particular rodent live in Oscar the Grouch's trash can with him? Or, why does this rodent build dams?)

But Adamant Andrea is not a smart test-taker. She is not smart. I passed out the quizzes, returned to the front of the room, and realized that the quizzes hadn't reached the end of Andrea's row. They were still in a pile on her desk. She ignored them while she still had out her notes.

Pile of blank quizzes on her desk. Her notes are out in broad daylight.

I approached her and said quietly, "I can't let you take the quiz because your notes are out and the quiz is on your desk." She started to argue with me, so I decided to drop it, give the quiz, and deal with it afterwards. I didn't want to the whole class to watch a shitstorm.

I had decided to let it go. In most instances, it's very hard to prove a student cheated because it's my word against his or hers, and I simply didn't want to go through that mess. Plus, Adamant Andrea isn't doing so hot in the class anyways. Until, on her quiz, she wrote, "I wasn't cheating. I had my notes out to look up the name of the Black Dwarf Porcupine because I couldn't remember it. Plus, it's a blank test. There's no way I could cheat when you haven't shown us any of the pictures yet."

So I have the student admitting, in her own handwriting, to looking at her notes while there is a blank quiz on her desk. But she's so stupid that she didn't realize both that she WAS cheating, and she should have been cheating much smarter than she was. I'm still not going to pursue this. I think her stupidity will Darwin her out of the population soon enough without me accelerating the process with an academic sanction.


  1. First, you say that you were going to let it go because the case would be too hard to prove. Then the proof is provided by the student, but you're still going to let it slide. I think that you should turn her in for cheating.

  2. I agree with Addled. Take a copy of her quiz, file the paperwork. One head mounted on a pole (figuratively speaking) can do wonders for classroom management.

  3. Whether following up is worth it also depends on the procedures involved, and the people administering those procedures. If they're solid, yes, run her through the process. If you're going to end up spending hours/days on the task only to be told that you didn't warn her sufficiently that it was time to put away notes, or that she should be excused a first offence, or whatever, then no, don't bother. Spend the time on students who care, and have actual potential.

    And yes, it's really sad when they don't even cheat intelligently. It's part of the whole multiple-choice-test/detailed-direction following culture, I think. It doesn't occur to them to look at the test as a whole, or to otherwise think strategically.

  4. Was she cheating? You said that she had the quizzes but you say she was ignoring them and reading her notes. It doesn't seem honest to say she was cheating when you yourself say that she wasn't even looking at the quiz.