Higher education is the next bubble to pop, with rising costs and people with large debt and almost nothing to show for it. And then there is the additional question of the value of the actual education, whenever the football and basketball games are over. Taken even further, can you even trust the GPA they received?
This professor decides to stop pursuing cheating in his classes. Why? It’s not worth it. The incentives are twisted.
Not only I paid a significant financial penalty for “doing the right thing” (was I?) but I was also lectured by some senior professors that I “should change slightly my assignments from year to year”. (Thanks for the suggestion, buddy, this is exactly how I detected the cheaters.)
Suggestions to change completely the assignments from year to year are appealing on the first sight but they cause others types of problems: It is very difficult to know in advance if an assignment is going to be too easy, too hard, or too ambiguous. Even small-scale testing with TA’s and other faculty does not help. You need to “test” the new assignment by giving it to students. If it is a good one, you want to keep it. If it is a bad one, you just gave to the students a useless exercise.
I also did not like the overall teaching experience, and this was the most important thing for me. Teaching became annoying and tiring. There was a very different dynamic in class, which I did not particularly enjoy. It was a feeling of “me-against-them” as opposed to the much more pleasant “these things that we are learning are really cool!”
Will I pursue cheating cases in the future? Never, ever again!
He also spent 45 hours dealing with his cheating cases. That is over 30% more time than he spent lecturing.
This professor is actually taking steps to be more creative in his assignments to make cheating impossible. But how many will take the effort to do this? And as he mentions, that is not possible with all types of assignments. It’s hard to teach the writing of database queries without some standard exercises that are tried and true.
Here are some of his suggestions to mitigate the damage, however:
- Public Projects, where risk of embarrassment is too high.
- Peer Reviewing, where the only grade they receive is given by the class.
The secular bastions of the one key Enlightenment virtue, “education,” are crumbling. I’m reminded of this C.S. Lewis quote:
We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.”