Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonestyby James M. Lang
Nearly three-quarters of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today's students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. His provocative new research indicates that
Nearly three-quarters of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today's students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. His provocative new research indicates that students often cheat because their learning environments give them ample incentives to try--and that strategies which make cheating less worthwhile also improve student learning. Cheating Lessons is a practical guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots.
Drawing on an array of findings from cognitive theory, Lang analyzes the specific, often hidden features of course design and daily classroom practice that create opportunities for cheating. Courses that set the stakes of performance very high, that rely on single assessment mechanisms like multiple-choice tests, that have arbitrary grading criteria: these are the kinds of conditions that breed cheating. Lang seeks to empower teachers to create more effective learning environments that foster intrinsic motivation, promote mastery, and instill the sense of self-efficacy that students need for deep learning.
Although cheating is a persistent problem, the prognosis is not dire. The good news is that strategies which reduce cheating also improve student performance overall. Instructors who learn to curb academic dishonesty will have done more than solve a course management problem--they will have become better educators all around.
Lang (English, Assumption Coll.) addresses the unpleasant subject of academic dishonesty but avoids focusing on rules and punishment, instead exploring more positive ways to encourage students to engage in learning. First, he assures readers that there is no evidence that cheating in college has increased; he claims dishonesty occurs when students feel unable to succeed in an academic environment and that it will be reduced if faculty modify their courses and motivate students to prioritize learning instead of test taking. Lang explains relevant cognitive theory, outlines factors that foster cheating, and presents fascinating examples of course structures and classroom activities that stimulate students to work toward mastering their subjects. VERDICT This lively book combines a review of key studies of cheating, inspiring examples of active student efforts to stop academic dishonesty, and useful guidelines for how faculty and institutions can respond when it does occur. Aimed at faculty and college administrators, this readable and well-structured analysis presenting methods to facilitate academic success will also be of interest to readers concerned with how universities provide support to students.—Elizabeth Hayford, formerly with Associated Coll. of the Midwest, Chicago
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Meet the Author
James M. Lang is Associate Professor of English at Assumption College and former assistant director of the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University.
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