[nobe-l] Introduction

Carolyn Brock mmebrock at SpiritOne.com
Sun Nov 2 20:26:04 UTC 2008


    I taught French in a public high school for many years before 
retiring a few years ago.  Over the years I collected numerous 
techniques to discourage cheating on tests  and to catch it when it 
did occur.  While it is true that blind teachers worry about cheating 
more than others and it is an area where sighted people fear that we 
will be easy targets, there is a good deal of cheating in most 
classes.  Most of what I can offer is specifically related to the 
teaching and testing of foreign languages, which may not be of 
interest to the majority on this list.  So feel free to contact me 
off list if you would like to discuss any of the following suggestions:

Testing methods which make cheating difficult or undesirable:
1.  Modify the tests provided with your textbook series to make them 
more performance-based, meaning that students will not all provide 
the same answers.
2.  On occasion (and unpredictably) use various forms of "legal 
cheating" (as the kids call it), which virtually eliminates the other kind.
3.  Shuffle test items so that different students have the test 
questions in different orders.
4.  Do extensive oral testing (consistent with today's communicative 
philosophy) in ways that make good use of everyone's time.

Tricks to catch cheating when it does occur:
1.  Score tests (either electronically or with a reader) according to 
the seating chart and one short section at a time so that identical 
answers are more obvious.
2.  Cross-reference short answers or multiple choice items with 
material produced in a longer free response.
     (e.g. A student gets a verb form or the gender of a noun right 
in the short answer section but misses it on the free response.)
3.  Identify inconsistencies between difficult items a given student 
gets right and  elementary ones he/she misses.

There is more if I have time to think about it.  Initially, it looks 
like a lot more work and may be in the short run.  But it makes you a 
better teacher to focus on these things, often in ways unrelated to 
cheating.  For instance, paying attention to how many times a given 
mistake is made may alert you to a concept that many students are 
missing, meaning that you need to do some re-teaching and 
re-testing.  (Remember that every test is an evaluation of your 
teaching success as well as an evaluation of the students' learning 
success.)  You will discover that a few students per class are having 
the same problem with a certain concept, meaning that this small 
group could benefit from a short tutoring session with you or with an 
assistant.  You will become aware of those students who are using the 
language in original and appropriate communicative ways and be able 
to acknowledge this accomplishment.  In short, you just plain get to 
know the students better.

    So let me know if this is food for thought and you'd like to chat more.

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