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The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door from northern Illinois University's College of Education is why some children cheat. Here is the moderator. Dean Robert after top I suppose that there are more people that feel that cheating is increasing cheating in school situation such as Tess. Than ever before that there may be an increase in such behavior. I'm not sure that this is true and maybe just an example of the generation gap or an example of the fact that as you grow older you think the younger generation didn't doesn't amount to as much as your generation did. How do you feel about this. Dr. Leonard. While I do not have any research to show whether there is more or less cheating going on today but my own personal opinion is that there is not a split on basing at again on my elementary school background but I don't believe in elementary school that there is any more cheating today than there was for example when I was a child.
Well it would be very difficult to research it in the first place wouldn't it. Because a larger percentage of young people are going to school and continuing to go to school. And then of course the communication media are very quick to reflect things that are going on we recall some of the larger institutions that where cheating seemed to have caught on and they got the reputation for organized cheating among the students. They might not have made the papers in the good old days. Lloyd I was wondering are there certain grades in which cheating would be very common because the children are so young that they don't realize they're cheating or that there's anything wrong with cheating. Oh I don't feel that I can a garden child for example would really be cheating. No one morality has to be learned doesn't that we sometimes forget that it doesn't come automatically. Right now I suppose you could say that someone who cheats is maladjusted to a degree at a later grade level. In other words I think that a first
grade level and probably at the second grade level. Cheating in a sense still goes on but I still don't think the children realize what they're doing. What should the teacher or the parent do than the kindergarten or first grade when I mean child does cheat. Well I think the teacher has a real responsibility at the kindergarten level first grade level. Second third and all way up to the elementary school to help children understand what cheating is and that they are cheating and help them get over this sort of behavior. I think about all the teacher can do is set a good example and our own behavior and tell a child to simply tell the child that that's wrong. I think the parent. Leo Don't you think parents and teachers have to keep talking. They have to keep teaching in other words what are the moral standards of our particular society. Yes I think I might point out that this is not an obligation of the school on
certainly the school has some responsibility here for developing more ality. But there's the home there's the church. Both of these institutions must share this responsibility with the school. I think there's a relationship here between cheating and stealing. And we know that a little 4 year old child doesn't really know what he's dealing in but he needs to be told that this is someone else's property. This is stealing and and have it explained to him I'll never forget the time a. Parent came dragging her little kindergarten boy back to school. He had a little car in his hand that belonged to the kindergarten room. And his parents said Now you apologize to the teacher and tell her you stole this car. Well a teacher had. Good sense I'm in a situation and explain to the parent that the child didn't understand that he couldn't take the car home. The point was that this child was in the process of
acquiring knowledge and habits related to property. And the parent didn't quite understand that it didn't come automatically and I suppose a parent and teacher is continuously torn between this. How much can you expect of the child and on the other hand the fact that he does have to learn these things gradually as he grows up and becomes independent. This matter of individual differences here in developing this code of ethics I think is quite extensive and we might point out that not all children are going to develop these cold of this cold according to the same standards. It's going to take others longer to develop this. I notice there are some factors that seem to be very highly correlated with cheating. I read Kuhn's book an educational psychology. And he reviewed a number of studies and cheating and found that. These factors tend to be very highly
correlated with cheating. That those children who do cheat tend to be less intelligent come from a lower socio economic status tend to be more suggestible. It may have been retarded in school and in many cases have parents who have failed to set a good example in terms of cheating if the parents cheat or the parents accept cheating. The child is more likely to cheat. That cool and also law said very much what leo just said that individual differences enter into this so much that it's quite hard to say that this child because he comes from a lower social economic background. Will cheat more than another child. Yeah but on the other hand there are cultural differences in standards of conduct not only with regard to honesty and cheating what might be viewed as cheating or dishonest or perhaps unethical. And in an upper middle class
home might not be viewed so at all. And this is where the school does enter the picture to give a kind of national standard of morality and it's good. But there are some causes of cheating that need to be examined. Actually I think the point that Lloyd makes that. A young child cheating trying at whether he is cheating on a test or copying from a not another child or whether he's down town and steal something from the dime store for the first time. This is almost normal. In fact it is normal because it's a learning situation when it persists. That's when we need to be concerned because as Lloyd has also indicated there's cheating is just one of many indications perhaps serious ethical and moral maladjustment we usually find youngsters that cheat. Also tell lies and also will steal. And so we have to get at it and find out the causes.
Yes I would feel that if a parent had a child at say 6 or 7 years old who they found cheating or or stealing. I don't think they need to worry too much about that show about maladjustment But when this child gets to be let's say 12 years old or 14 years old then I think it's become serious problem. Well of course we're concerned at the college level with cheating cheating prevails on the part of some individuals. All of their lives for a variety of causes. And I think some of these. Reasons for cheating are quite important for both the parents and the school to understand. For example recently there certainly has been a great deal of emphasis placed upon grades. And if the parents and the school are both Alpha sizing the importance of grades. To such an extent. That a child with average ability feels that it is essential for him to do very well in school then I think the child
may have strong motivation to cheat and he may or may not cheat according to his own individual makeup but certainly the pressure is a great on an average child or below average child to cheat. If both the parents and the school are emphasizing the importance of high grades. Well and if they don't understand the span of individual differences that prevail and they conclude that every child can earn good grades high grades they punish a child perhaps if he doesn't come home with a good report. This child has almost no other alternative except to try to cheat to get decent grades so that he won't have privileges removed and punishment administered. I think the expectation is that a parent has for a child have to be realistic and that if the child has only average ability the parents are making a mistake in expecting a child to be doing a or b in a work. And yet I think it is natural that.
Parents would want their children to do just as well as possible. And in some ways I suppose when a child comes home with poor grades many parents feel that these poor grades reflect unfavorably on the parents. In other words there must be must be something wrong with me if my child is unable to do A and B work. So that I do think the school and the home have to work very closely together in order to assess what an individual's competencies are. So that the expectations of the school and the parents can be realistic. I think that the teacher has an obligation to observe the child and if he observes for example that a child has a deep seated problem here let's say at the sixth grade level or to junior high school level or senior high school level then I think they have an obligation to to inform the parent but you.
Well again this is simply additional reason for schools and homes to be compete communicating with each other continuously and honestly. The schools have administered tests intelligence tests and other types of tests and they have a pretty good idea about the youngsters ability to achieve. Well they should be talking to parents even if it is a little bit of a blow to the parents again I remember a case where the and the father was a lawyer and he had gone to a very fine. University he expected his child to do the same when the child was an adopted child not that that makes any difference but this adopted child just didn't have that kind of ability and ability that the Father and the mother had. Now you might not have had it even if you had been their own child. That doesn't make any difference. But we discovered very early that this boy just couldn't do the work. His IQ is too low. We call in the parents and tried to break the news to them to convince them that
they should not set goals beyond the limit of this child's ability. In the meantime he was cheating and getting into trouble serious trouble because it was a vicious cycle that developed. I've been rather amazed and looking through some of the research studies in terms of the amount of cheating that actually occurs or the number of people who would participate in cheating if given a reasonable chance of cheating without being detected. One of the studies was done by Steven Corey. This was at the college level. In which he gave a test had to test papers given to him at the end of the period and he corrected these papers without making any marks on the objective test. The next day when students came to class he passed the papers back out to the students and had them grade their own papers and he found that three fourths of the class members changed answers in order to get a higher score on
this particular task and a number of similar studies found that in general about one half to three fourths of children from grades 1 through college tended to cheat if they had an opportunity to cheat without feeling that they would be detected. Of course Ray if a comparable experiment or carry on involving adults mature adults who had completed their education. I wonder if we wouldn't find the same thing. I thought we had that kind of a. Situation every fifth the income tax mistakes. I'm always in favor or seem to be in favor of the person who's supplying the information and so we don't want to accept. Oh well we want our children to be better than we were or are. There's no question about this we hope that each new generation is a little better generation preceding generation instead of the opposite as we tend to
conclude. I think on the whole each new generation is better and I'd say that for the present generation they have more insight and they can understand that when they cheat are they really hurting themselves in the long run because they're falling be hat behind on the back load if you will of information knowledge and skills that they need sooner or later and I think if we can get this message over to children during their elementary school years particularly when they're more idealistic that they will find it difficult to cheat. Incidentally you know I agree and incidentally the studies that I cited all were old studies. Done 1940 and prior to 1940 I was rather amazed and looking through the research that the study cited the most frequently and almost every textbook published within the past few years was a study of heart yarn and me which was made in 1928. I don't know if that
means there isn't as much concern about cheating today on the part of researchers or if. One simply has set up a study quite as elaborate as the one that hired chartered hired Joran and me conducted. They had thousands of students over a five year period. In a variety of situations in which a student could cheat. And there would be a recording media of the type of cheating that occurred. And the study did find. Some things that were rather. Startling. For example teachers rated girls as being much more honest than boys. Yet in the study by a hard charging man. The girls cheated far more than the boys. In fact in tough situations the girls cheated almost twice as much as the boys. More girls and
boys cheated in grading their own school papers and grading schoolwork done at home. Even in game situations. And I think this would be something for teachers. And parents to be aware of that the boy who tends to be suspected of cheating may be much more honest and then the girl who for one reason or another seems to accept cheating at least in test and school situations to a greater extent than the average boy. What then. Based on what you have just reciting here I would think that the teacher then has a real responsibility to constantly be on the alert. Let's say for cheating and the parent had also has the same it has the same responsibility and that they shouldn't ignore this responsibility. Oh no but I think preventive therapy if you will is better than corrective and I do believe that parents and teachers talking these matters over
with their children and pointing out that it just doesn't do them any good in the long run. And of course example is important. And when I think maybe the harsh Arnon may study is a little bit of a study of human nature and as we become more civilized as we should be becoming each generation we should learn to live with each other and with the moral rules that have been established that make this possible. I think Guy Lloyd raises an interesting. Problem. And that is. Should teachers. Try to prevent cheating by very close supervision. Neither is it the obligation of the teacher to impose such strict supervision during test situations that it is impossible for a child to cheat. Why should the goal of the teacher be to develop a certain degree of independence on the part of the child. Honesty that would exist
in the absence of supervision. And I was wondering what what your opinions are concerning us so what is the role of the teacher and I. Test situation. But that's what my point and down because from what you say I think it to be a lie I'm kind of torn here in both directions. I think it's wrong for the teacher to at say encourage cheating to give children. Opportunities to cheat and encourage it by not giving supervision at the same time I feel the teacher has an obligation. To do just the opposite occurs on the on the ultimate goal is it not just to have a much you're adult capable of operating within the mores of society without a policeman watching him and making him do it. And so it seems to me that as we introduce children to these situations which are can be tempting
we need to gradually. Teach them how to control their own destinies if you will their own habits and to develop habits that will enable them to live independently. I don't think that. We could operate very well in traffic in a big city if we obeyed the laws only when the policeman was there. Now it's true most adults don't have the strength to obey all laws all the time when they're not having some supervision. Adults cheat a little bit here and there there's no question about it. But we our goal is to establish a civilized individual who independently can conform to the rules of the moral and ethical rules of a society for his own protection the protection of other people. I notice that some schools have moved toward an honor system in which students of course are placed on their own
honor system and during a test situation there is no supervisor in the room. There seem to be conflicting reports about the success of this. In many cases I think students have not been ready to accept the honor system and really have had enough. Very little part in developing the honor program. I don't know how this. Works at the lower levels however I did attend a college at the graduate level for my master's degree that had an honor system and we never had. A faculty member in a room and we took tests. In fact if an individual wanted to take a test out of the room he felt that he could do better away from the classroom situation. He could take this test to his fraternity house or to his. Rooming house complete the test and return it. And in my experience there. And I don't know again if this was typical or not was that there
was very very little cheating much less cheating than in colleges that I've attended where they did not have the honor system. But I attended that school at the graduate level and therefore. I know what the graduate students did I had little contact with the undergraduates and I don't know office would work as well at the undergraduate level. Course you can't stop cheating can you. A teacher can't control all opportunities for cheating. If the student wants to cheat so there's some cheating by some individuals likely to go on but I think some of the things that teachers do contribute to the pressures and contribute to the inclination to cheat. For example we know that there are some college teachers and perhaps some high school teachers that put a great deal of emphasis on grades and then based their grades on one or two major tests. And then furthermore don't
change their tests they don't modify they don't construct a new test each semester. As a result fraternities or groups of youngsters who who are under this pressure to make grades in order to stay in school perhaps or to earn a diploma get these tests in advance and immediately the holy valuation system is is invalidated because those that don't get the tests and study hard still won't get the higher grades. I wonder if there are some students perhaps who would cheat on that occasion. That situation who would not cheat in a normal situation. You may cheat because you feel it's the only way you can get a fair grade out of a situation. I think sometimes because a student may rationalize and say what everyone else in the class is cheating therefore I'm going to. But I think if he has proof that many students in a class have the examination and are cheating and certainly there is a great deal of motivation for him to
cheat again since cheating would be an individual matter. I think there are some students who would refuse to cheat even though they would realize they would receive a low grade in that class. But for many people I think the character development simply hasn't been strong enough to cause them to resist such temptations. When Leo you work with a lot of graduate students. Let's imagine that you find a graduate student cheating in some serious way like using someone else's term paper or cheating. One of those big examinations that they have to take. What kind of a reaction what what kind of treatment what kind of handling or punishment or reaction would you think would be desirable. Well we do have such severe means of Penna punishment like this be an academic dismissal if we feel that it
is serious enough. Of course we always discuss this with a with a student to make sure that the facts we have are are correct but in a so severe matter we we might recommend an academic dismissal of the student. In other words I suppose you conclude that there comes an age. There comes a time in a person's life when honesty in the academic situation should be just basic should be should be prerequisite should be something that you expect as minimal at least in the person's pursuance of his work. Well I think. The basic thing is s that we feel that these a graduate students are going to go out and and hold responsible positions in our communities and that well they should just be of such character that
they would not cheat in such a situation. I would certainly agree with them on that. I know in the last few years are probably all through the years we've had examples of cheating at that. Institutions such as the military academy and I think they have been dismissed and have been dismissed. Cases like that would have been found cheating. And I think we'd have to disable thing at our end at that college level. Now in the elementary schools of course we we handle it differently. We use it as a learning situation we know these are developing young people that are learning moral standards at the high school level. When shooting occurs we would want to examine the conditions maybe there are excessive pressures from home and school on an individual maybe using the wrong curriculum is just too difficult for him and so he would want to get at this in the hope that he would learn something out of it and not do it anymore. But I wonder if when a person gets up to the last two years of his undergraduate work at college maybe before then but the last two years of his undergraduate work
and his graduate work we shouldn't just say cheating is something that just cannot be tolerated. Now sometimes there can be a psychological basis and of course there are all kinds of rationalizations that the person who has cheated gives he will have Ali's rationalization about excessively severe grading and tests that are out and so on but I rather have a feeling their excuses or justification for his behavior. Yes I think a lot of students fail in college fail in their programs because they weren't able to to earn grades that they needed and so it isn't. To me it isn't fair that another child who gets by stays in school by cheating one another one has to drop out because he did not eat well. On the other hand I do think we have to realize that this is a learning situation these are people in the process of becoming up to a certain age anyway and that we may be contributing to the inclination to cheat by greeting everything that seems to
be a built in occupational hazard in the way we run our schools children are graded on almost every act would be horrible if it applied to us and our work wouldn't it. And so the grades are over emphasize in Marks and the pressure is growing up growing nationally and perhaps we are encouraging at better understanding of the child and his stage of development and his individual differences. It is important. Do you think it's rather important to stress the idea that all four of us seem to agree that character development is a responsibility of both the school and the home and that if the school and the home cooperate in character development including favorable attitude toward honesty that certainly we perhaps can do much more in the future than we've done in the past behind the classroom door produced by WFIU and co-operation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each
week has focused its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at door there in Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Raymond B Fox associate dean of the College of Education. Dr. Leo Laughlin head of the Department of Administration and services and Dr. Lloyd Leonard and the Department of elementary education. This is the final program in this series. And w an IUF wishes to thank this station for broadcasting behind the classroom door. This program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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