Writing on 21k12, Jonathan Martin offers up a thoughtful response to the "plague of cheating" in secondary and postsecondary education. The right way to reduce cheating is to make education about more than test-scores and extrinsic measures, he argues. Cheating will only go down when students are told that they are in education to accomplish the satisfaction of mastery, and when they trust their teachers to be fair and honest. This jibes with my experience, and the business about trusting teachers is very important, and fraught with difficulty in a world where teachers' salaries depend on test-scores and arbitrary benchmarks are used in place of thoughtful, in-depth assessments.
First, Promote 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.
Ohio State University educational psychologist Eric Anderman found that how teachers present the goals of learning in class is key to reducing cheating. Anderman showed that students who reported the most cheating perceive their classrooms as being more focused on extrinsic goals, such as getting good grades, than on mastery goals associated with learning for its own sake and continuing improvement. High school students cheat more when.. their motivation in the course is more focused on grades and less on learning and understanding.
Moreover, the more students learn to focus on grades for their own sake, rather than as a representation of what they have learned, the more comfortable they are with cheating.
(via Uncertain Principles)