High-tech Cheating

April 28, 2007 at 9:45 am | Posted in cheating, education, teachers | 4 Comments

While I was away on vacation, I caught the news once and saw a quick blurb about high-tech cheating.  Apparently, students are using some pretty sophisticated equipments to cheat.  It used to be text messaging on cell phones.  Now, it’s iPods!  Students would download answers to their iPods and get answers while pretending to listen to music.

High-tech cheating is now a great concern for teachers everywhere, particularly in high-school and middle-school.

Since I’m a big fan of lowering affective filters for students, I’m not going to be one of those people who automatically say “BAN the iPods!”

My question to these teachers and parents who are concerned with high-tech cheating is, “How is your assessment formatted?”  If a test is well-crafted, how can you cheat?  If a lesson is well taught, why is there a need for cheating?

What is the purpose of the test anyway? To guide the teacher’s instruction? To determine a student’s needs? To grade students according to the bell curve and rank everyone? To have a mark in your grade book so you can put it down for their report card?

I’m really hoping that teachers are still not giving out tests with multiple-choice answers, focusing on recalling basic facts.  (I’m not talking about standardized assessments here.  You know, The Big Test.  Since I feel that they are a big waste of two weeks of everyone’s life, I say, hand out iPods to everyone!  Except they’re not permitted in the testing room.)

Here’s an easy way to prevent cheating in the classroom, high-tech or otherwise.  Give students questions and projects that require them to to use higher level comprehension skills.   Allow the students to use their textbooks and notes during the test if necessary.  Heck, allow the students to work together in pairs and groups, and have them orally defend their projects/answers individually.


Using graph paper, draw a floor plan for a one-bedroom home, complete with a kitchen, a dining area, and bathroom.  The total square footage of the home is 750 sq. ft.  What are the length, width, and area of the bedroom, kitchen, dining area, and bathroom? Here is your rubric.


Draw a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the Revolutionary War and the Industrial Revolution.  Write a well-crafted explanation of your Venn Diagram.  Here is your rubric.

 Physical Education

You are a doctor.  An underweight patient prone to illness asks your advice for staying healthy.  With a partner, create a 6 month, healthy-living plan for your patient that will ensure a healthy weight and reduce risk of illness. Be prepared to orally defend any part of the plan. Here is your rubric.

Any other ideas for formatting assessments so that high-tech cheating is impossible?


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  1. Welcome back CT. I agree with your central idea here. I too have to set assessment tasks knowing full well that there are sites on the net where students can download completed assignments. This is why I make my assessments unique and linked to my teaching. That way no-one can find precisely the same material on the net. There is enough scope in any given topic to produce assessment this way; its a good argument for exercising ones originality in the classroom. 🙂

  2. I like your examples of assessment. I never thought of using a Venn Diagram for the actual test. I usually give multiple choice and short answer or essay. I pass out several versions of the test. The short answer and essay are always the most difficult portion of the test for them and they come DIRECTLY from my teaching and lecture notes. The multiple choice are usely from the test generator in which I often have to modify the questions. The short answer and essay questions are always worth about 30 -40 % of the test. I have VERY little cheating on my tests. I have left the room and come back during a tests–still very little cheating. Maybe this because I always let them use their books and their notes; or maybe its that Freshmne don’t know how to cheat. On tests, I still have an extremely high failure rate b/c many are afraid to attempt the essays and short answer and they know its worth a lot of points. But I’m not changing that b/c if our motto is “Every Child, Every Day, College Bound,” the need to be prepared for these college exams.

  3. I should have been clearer in my response and I can’t figure out how to change it. I would like it to say

    “But I’m not changing the essay/short answer of the test b/c if our motto is “Every Child, Every Day, College Bound,” the need to be prepared for college exams that are ALL essay. I believe this is a way of strengthening my kids weak writing skills. Especially, when I go over what I was looking for and have them rewrite.

  4. […] content knowledge. Yet, many teachers are still focused on doing just that, teaching the facts and testing with questions that merely demand that students recall. In fact, it is now written into the standards that students must be able to transcend content […]

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