Published in Proceedings of the 2001 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition: Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 24, 2001. 7 pages. Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education. Publisher website: http://www.asee.org.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Trevor Harding was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Over the past three decades, academic dishonesty (a.k.a. cheating) has become an increasingly common occurrence among college-aged students, and engineering students are known to be among the most frequent culprits. At most universities, cheating is dealt with after the fact. Few institutions go beyond drafting an academic integrity policy to prevent cheating before it happens. The same situation exists in the classroom. The majority of college professors report doing little or nothing to reduce the frequency of cheating in their classes, usually because of a lack of awareness of its occurrence. And when cheating is observed, faculty overwhelmingly choose to deal with the situation on their own, without resorting to the institution’s policy. Given this scenario, it is the author’s goal to develop useful approaches that help faculty prevent cheating before it occurs. In addition, the author feels that students do not inherently want to cheat. One can therefore assume that there is a set of practical techniques that can be used by faculty to reduce the pressure on students to cheat. This paper focuses on several of these techniques which were developed as a result of research on self-reported student cheating at a private mid-western university. One technique that is highly effective is the use of learning objectives for test construction. Students reported cheating less often on tests since they appeared to be written more fairly. Other techniques include discussing learning theories and engineering ethics in class, allowing students to use reference sheets for closed-book tests and having students work in cooperative learning groups on homework. Discussion will include how to apply these techniques and why they may reduce cheating.
Materials Science and Engineering