Besides students who are struggling, unmotivated or disruptive, there’s one difficulty you’re bound to come across during your career: cheating. Studies show that an overwhelming number of students cheat, be it copying a classmate's homework, plagiarizing an essay or attempting to outsmart a high-stakes exam.
The Internet, cell phones and other technological gadgets have made it easier and (unfortunately) more efficient for students to cheat. Students who cheat are becoming sneakier and more creative as they think of new ways to avoid actually studying. But as long as teachers are vigilant and know what to look for, it’s still easy to pick up on the methods your students are using to cheat. The following are four interesting ways that students are cheating nowadays.
1. Cheat Sheets
The classic cheat sheet is probably one of the oldest ways students have cheated, but they’re still using it! Students write helpful hints and try to hide them in discreet ways --- but more often than not, their measures to hide their cheat sheets make everything more obvious. Some students try getting away with writing their cues on their palms or forearms, strategically placing their arm on the desk so they can look down at it whenever they want. Other students are more daring, perhaps taping a small piece of paper to the inside of a baseball cap’s brim or the inside of a sweater; if they have to "sneeze,” they can pull the collar of their sweater up and sneak a peek at the sheet. Cheat sheets can be hidden in virtually any article of clothing --- some students even program hints into their scientific calculators!
Still, no matter how brazen a student gets, they probably can’t compare to this high school student from Kazakhstan who squeezed 25,000 answers onto a 35-foot-long cheat sheet that he wrapped around his body!
2. Sharing is Caring
Before the dawn of the smart phone, ambitious cheaters struggled to get a hold of the test beforehand, copy down the answers and circulate them among their friends. Nowadays though, students don’t need to try so hard: Cell phones and iPods, all of which are becoming increasingly smaller and easier to conceal, make it possible for students to take pictures of the tests and share them with their friends. This gives students who are taking the test later a heads-up and can even make it possible for people to reply during the test with answers or hints.
You may have heard about the recent Stuyvesant High School cheating scandal, where over 50 students were recently caught doing this at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious public schools. Watch out!
3. Brain Food
This is one of the more elaborate, tricky and discreet ways of cheating, but the issue can be eradicated quite easily: Don’t let your students eat in class! Teacher blogs have talked about increasingly common incidents that involve students removing the label from an item of food, scanning it and using PhotoShop to replace the nutrition facts with cheat notes. The most popular, it seems, is the water bottle trick where students either write or scan information onto the inside of a label and tape it back onto the bottle. Not only is the information on the inside of the label, but the water from the bottle magnifies the writing. Candy bar wrappers are also easy ways for students to conceal information.
4. Identity Fraud?
It might seem outlandish, but last year’s Long Island SAT and ACT cheating ring proves that anything is possible: Over 20 students accepted payments of $500 to $3,600 to take college entrance exams for other people in the Garden City neighborhood of New York. While this is an extreme example, it is something to look out for — though not in classroom exams as much as in state exams, where you may be proctoring for students who you don’t know. Students who charge to take exams use other students’ IDs to be admitted into tests, where they are likely to perform better than the student they’re taking it for.