Question Detail

How would you ensure that copying does not happen?

Jun 14, 2014 5:26am

It's been quite awhile since my last query. Thanks to everyone who's responded and will respond. With all these questions we have here on this website, we can certainly use these as a bank of collection to ask a potential teacher candidate for interviews. So here's my next question - what strategy or strategies do you use to make sure that students produce their own thinking on paper? I hate assigning work out of a textbook with answer keys in the back. Even if I assign work for collection, I find it difficult to gauge if the thought was their own or did they just google it. Students are more saavy now and come up with more creative ways to "produce" work that's not their own. It's always the bane of grading and a hindrance to their learning in my opinion. All that copying teaches is "resourcefulness" which only masks the real issue to learning.

  • Math / Science
  • 8-12
  • Assessment / Behavior / Class Culture / Collaboration / Planning


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    • Jun 14, 2014 1:33pm

      Just briefly, education is a second career choice. I have a long history of a career in medicine as a physician assistant. Math and science are like hobbies for me, always learning and ALWAYS having fun with them.
      Early on, I discovered a majority of my students were ingrained into the behavior of copying and not comprehending the rules of test taking, ie. not talking, not copying, even putting a name on the test, or circling verses filling in the blanks. It took some teeth pulling and test papers with the words 'Incomplete Not Graded' on them, to force some radical changes in behavior.
      With IT and computers readily available, one way I changed my own behavior was to write up a set of questions or problems.
      With some simple changes in wording and method of getting an solution. I could make anywhere from 5 to 7 different tests, very similar concept and solution. I then changed the arrangement of the test, so that if a student copied another students' #1 question if would automatically show me that one copied, because their #1 would be a different problem.
      In addition, I emphasized I wanted the 'STEPS', the method of one's answer written out in a sentence form(If working with PEMDAS something like, Step 2...the sum of x and 4 times the value of y is the next step) rather than just an answer like (x + 4)(x - 6). I EMPHASIZED, again and AGAIN...its the steps that would be graded. If there were no steps written on the paper, then the problem was not answered. I EMPHASIZED also, that even if their answer could be wrong, if a student's answer was (x+4)(x+6), but the correct answer would be (x+4)(x-6), if the steps were on the paper, I would still give a student credit for answering the problem.
      In the case with PEMDAS, it gives me insight to their comprehension of the concept of PEMDAS. It also gives me insight to where they may have simply misplaced a operation or property sign, or a simple computation error.
      This definitely jammed up their behavior of copying, but for those who complied, I could see how they were progressing. The number of problems on a test decreased(which the students liked)but it took more writing, which they didn't like : (
      We did practice a lot on a Promethean Board using ActivInspire, so by the time test time came around, they knew what was expected of them.

      • Jun 16, 2014 10:02am

        Hi Michael-

        I focus on proactive teaching of academic honesty and why it's important. To begin this conversation, I print out the academic honesty policies for local colleges (Harvard University, UMass, etc...) and we talk about the real consequences when students get older and the importance of practicing academic honesty. We also talk about difficult situations, like when your friend asks to copy homework, and respectful ways to handle the requests. In addition, I create prompts that require very different answers - and if the answers were the same, I would be able to identify that quickly. You can also assign different problem numbers to students based on the class, first letter of last name, etc... so they aren't working on the same problems. A balance of proactive approaches will definitely minimize any copying. On the other side, when students are found to be copying, the consequence must be immediate and consistent and include a required reflection, discussion with teacher on how to avoid such situations in the future.

        Hope this helps,

        • Jun 16, 2014 9:08pm

          This is a tough one, I worked at a school with a strict policy of giving zeros on any assignment that was copied (both the copier and the one supplying the copy). I only had to enforce it once when it was so obvious that a student had copied someone else, and it certainly made them take me seriously. But the real question is how to stop the copying from happening. I used to make 2 versions of a test/quiz, changing the numbers slightly so that the 2 versions were fair. I would also talk a lot about the difference of working together on assignments, which I encouraged, versus copying, which in turn was really more of a discussion of why we even assign homework in the first place. It is supposed to be a way to practice what the students learn each day and at times take it a step further and/or think outside the box and brainstorming with others is a great way to do this. It is important to mention how much more useful and meaningful it is to help someone understand something rather than just letting him/her copy the work.

          • Jun 18, 2014 9:01am

            put them in their own islands

            • Jun 18, 2014 11:05am

              Yes Magda, that works well if they're taking a test inside the classroom but what about work for collection that's supposed to be done at home?

              • Jul 6, 2014 8:08am

                Jon G.,

                I'm glad that you mentioned you using the Promethean Board using ActivInspire. Can I know how you've used the promethean planet in general? To be more specific, say I'm teaching a unit on the Quadratic function. Can I know how you used it in your planning and in your assessment of student learning. Looks like you got a lot of good ideas.

                Thank you!

                • Jul 10, 2014 2:57pm

                  Hi Eric!

                  I appreciate your response. Alot of good ideas come from teachers like yourselves so please don't hesitate to make any contribution. I like the idea of holding students accountable by giving them homework quizzes based on the homework the were assigned to do prior. I know there's many different versions of it. There's one where a teacher may assign a set and would ask the class the next day to copy their own work-answer to a couple of specific questions and then there's your version where there's a homework quiz that is similar to the question they are supposed to have done for homework. I think I'm going to try these ideas.

                  Mike V.