Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coursework Cheating

One of the things I boasted that I would not have at Chalk High, is any any course that involved teacher marked assessment.

Does it strike you as a good idea to judge teachers by the exam results their pupils achieve, then give them a piece of work weeks in advance that their pupils must carry out under 'exam conditions', then tell them to mark the papers? Should we be surprised that these coursework marks are often very high? It's a bit like telling driving instructors that they will only be paid if everyone passes.

Coursework used to be given to the kids to take home and obviously those with tutors or nice bright parents would gets tonnes of help. Now it is generally done in school so that we can make sure that all the results are fiddled equally. Cheating is absolutely endemic for the obvious reason that it isn't in anybody's interest not to. Dubious practices range from writing the answers on the board to 'just happening to teach something very similar the day before.' The temptation to read meaning into some vague answer and mark it correct is very strong indeed when you know that Mrs Wade down the corridor is doing the same and you might well be compared with her.


Anonymous said...

There's a somewhat similar problem in a lot of private sector companies. Management bulls**t suggests everyone should be focussed on beating the competition. This is fine while the employees fall for the fiction that "the competition" are people in other companies. Those with clear vision quickly realise that the only competition that matters is their own, personal competition, i.e. the people competing with them for scarce company resources, such as pay rises. They then become focussed on beating their colleagues. Nice to see this filtering into the public sector...

Anonymous said...

A person I know of was once employed teaching day-release students on a mathematics course. Nothing particularly high-powered, just young adults on courses funded by their company bosses, to try teach them some more maths. The problem was this: most of 'em didn't give a damn whether they passed or failed, and viewed the whole exercise as a free holiday off work.

Knowing that he was faced with a class of effectively utter dunces, and knowing that he needed to get a decent pass rate to be hired for the job next year, my friend hatched a cunning plan. He knew ahead of time what the exam questions would be, so for six weeks prior to the exam, the class did nothing save worked examples that were the exam questions with the numbers slightly changed.

Like I said, trying to teach those students was like trying to teach fenceposts for all the intellect they displayed. Six weeks of all but telling them the answers produced a pass rate of 10%. My friend didn't get the job again; some other poor fool got the job of trying to beat knowledge into unreceptive skulls...

Lilyofthefield said...

We do Edexcel 360Science and the Internal Assessments (now down to 6 instead of the previous 12) are a farce. Structured support is the name we give to cheating.

Cabbage said...

I remember the cheating cropping up in my A-level Chemistry practicals, too (they're supervised by teachers rather than external invigilators). There wasn't even a pretence of honesty.

The week before, we did nothing but practice the experiment we were going to be doing (teacher had already seen the paper) and go over the specific chemistry involved.

During the exam, one of the teachers came round, looked at the results people had written down, and then either pointed up, pointed down, or gave a thumbs up if they were accurate enough for full marks. Anyone who was wrong could then go back and change their results.

It even went as far as basically telling people the answers in the exam. One pupil got a chemical equation wrong, putting Hydrogen as a product where it should've been water; the teacher pointed at the H, shook his head, then picked up a bottle of distilled water from the table and shook it.

In fairness, I should probably say that our Physics department was stubbornly honest and wouldn't even give clues as to what was on the exam. Dunno about Biology, didn't take it myself.