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Preventing Cheating Ed Clement

Cheating: The Thief of Knowledge

I believe that well-designed, relevant homework is important to children's education, so I try very hard to make homework both interesting and worthwhile. When students cheat on their homework, they deny themselves the knowledge that could be gained if the homework had been completed legitimately.

To prevent cheating from stealing the education I am trying to provide my students, I have devised a two-version homework system. The following example is based on a "How To" entitled Word Math, which was posted earlier on this web site--and is still available--and which is partially illustrated below.

5 + 3 =

8 C

24 X .5 =

12 a

5² =

25

YOUR STUDENTS USE THE ANSWERS TO COMPUTATION OR WORD- PROBLEM MATHEMATICS HOMEWORK TO FIND A SECRET WORD OR MESSAGE. THIS STRATEGY CAN BE USED FOR TEST TAKING AS WELL.

BASIC STEPS TO PREVENT CHEATING

1. Make a "secret message" table with the letters of the alphabet and numbers. (See sample table below.)

 A a B b C 1 ¼ XI 100.5 twenty

2. Print up enough copies of the "secret message" table for every student.

3. Make up math homework worksheets and tests with computation and word problems. The answers to the problems make words or phrases when used with the "secret message" table.

4. Make up a slightly different work sheet using the same secret message table.

 5 + 3 =  8 C 24 X .5 =  12 a 6² =  36 T Notice that the last entry is 6² = 36 not 5² = 25. The new secret message is now CaT while the old one is Cat.

Students usually don't take the time to notice that they have received different worksheet. Since it is impossible to get the answers and secret message correct if they copy another student's answers, most children are willing to acknowledge that cheating has taken place and are not likely to cheat again.

It is advisable to use very similar words when designing these sheets. For example, Cat and CaT differ only in the upper case T. If very ifferent words are used, students catch on quickly and then look for another student who has the same homework sheet that they have.