Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things That Have Me Thinking This Week...February 20, 2012

Here are a few posts/articles that made me think a bit during the past week. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Beating the Cheating: Five Ways to Combat the Plague - Jonathan Martin

One thing we can all agree on is that cheating is a problem in schools today. As noted in this post, one survey mentioned in a recent Edweek post put the percentage of students who had admitted to cheating at just under 60%.  There are two clear routes to resolving this issue: 1. Stricter penalties for cheaters (which will not resolve anything). 2. A clearer focus on learning and more authentic learning tasks (assessments).

Here are a couple of quotes from the post which I thought summed things up:

"Promote a healthy school culture and authentic learning.  We must recognize that the roots of cheating lie too often in the culture of the school and the perception by students of their academic enterprise.  If we convey to students that we think their job is exclusively to get good grades, if we frame their success as being defined by their GPA, if we demand or exact their compliance by issuing extrinsic rewards, our school cultures will become cheating cultures."
"Some tests and assignments are plainly easier to cheat on than others: multiple choice more so than essays; factual recall more so than rigorous analysis and application;  same-old, same-old assignments year after year rooted in textbook learning more so than original, authentic tasks rooted in real-world, contemporary issues.    What we can now see is that changing the tests to more authentic, analytic, creative tasks isn’t just an educational imperative for teaching for understanding, it is a moral imperative in battling the plague of cheating and promoting greater academic integrity."
Rethinking Exams - Nick Sauers - 1:1 Schools Blog
This post was prompted by a CNN story on cheating by medical students and Nick Sauers takes a similar approach to Jonathan Martin in his thoughts on combating the problem. Here are the questions that Nick came up with for educators to consider in regards to cheating:
  • Why would you not change your exam in 10 years? Even if, big IF, infor­ma­tion doesn’t change in that time, shouldn’t your knowl­edge about your assess­ment tool change?
  • Why is the infor­ma­tion on the test some­thing that can be eas­ily shared with oth­ers? Shouldn’t it be infor­ma­tion that can only be under­stood from eight years of med school?
  • How impor­tant is it that stu­dents can mem­o­rize facts? Is that more impor­tant than demon­strat­ing competence?
  • Why is it a secret what is on the test? Shouldn’t stu­dents know from the begin­ning of their courses the impor­tant things that are con­sid­ered essen­tial to their learning?
  • Should one exam at the end of an eight year degree be the most impor­tant assess­ment for candidates?

Infographic on how sleep deprivation impacts the brain and body

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