Cheating is a pernicious problem that most teachers deal with at some point. In her research, Stanford senior lecturer Denise Pope found that out of thousands of juniors and seniors surveyed only five percent did not cheat. It’s hard for teachers to catch cheating, but when they do trust is broken, students are penalized and no one ends up happy. In her Atlantic article, Jessica Lahey explains how she has begun to shoulder some of the blame when her students cheat and describes how creating a culture of learning based on mastery instead of test scores helps solve the problem.

“My teaching methods and classroom habits are often as much to blame as their response to them,” writes Lahey. “If my teaching practices create an atmosphere in which students resort to cheating rather than rely on their own hard work and discovery, I’m doing something wrong.”

A Classroom Where No One CheatsWhen I catalog my personal top ten list of teaching failures, the first spot always goes to the same offense: cheating. The times I’ve caught the eye of a student whose glance has wandered on to a classmate’s test. When I’ve compared two identical, oddly misspelled answers two different quizzes.

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  • Tony Baade

    I am convinced there is definitely a strong purpose for testing and learning from that test. Mastery Level Learning is a key to making test, retest and retest a valuable tool in learning. With regards to cheating when is it learning and when is it cheating? I agree with Denise …………it is cheating when you the teacher set it up.

  • NLP training

    Definitely! Education must be for learning rather than just scoring marks.

  • Heike Larson

    In Montessori education, there’s no cheating. Why? Because children love the challenge, and are not graded or compared. In my daughter’s Montessori elementary program, the children have math problem cards where the front side has the problem (e.g., 9,756 minus 2,874), and the back side has the answer. The children love the challenge of using the Montessori materials or paper-and-pencil to figure out the answer, and then self-check and self-correct.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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