Hacker News Re-Imagined

My students cheated... a lot

  • 1840 points
  • 1 month ago

  • @benjyhirsch
  • Created a post

My students cheated... a lot


@langsoul-com 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Honestly, why bother joining the chat if you're obligated to put in so much effort?

Analysing social media for evidence of violating academic integrity isn't some thin you get paid for.

Personally, I wouldn't. Why waste what little time I have left each day? Not to mention, whatever grade they get, whether they cheated or not doesn't matter, I'd still get paid at the end of the day.

Reply


@rossdavidh 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

So I think the teacher missed the main point of his own essay:

"The argument was that chat groups have become indispensable tools for students taking courses online during the pandemic. The essay detailed all of the useful info passed around in chats. I totally agreed with this point....Their strategy was to leave the chat before every quiz and midterm so that they couldn’t be there for the cheating. Then they rejoined afterward."

So, in order to be competitive in a class where (whether explicitly curved or not) the difficulty will be adjusted up or down until the "right" portion of students are passing, even a student who wanted to not cheat needed to be in the chat. He made a course in which it required extraordinary efforts to find a way to be able to both pass and not cheat, and then acted surprised that so many students cheated.

Any teacher who can fire up R to process the chat group logs, could have figured out a better system for quizzes and tests, so that it wasn't this hard to be competitive without cheating. Also, if he hasn't ever taken a course on game theory, he should; if he has, he shouldn't have passed.

Reply


@fuball63 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'm a new computer science professor coming from "industry" (as the academics call it) and can confirm that cheating is rampant. I've also noticed that it is an arms race you'll never win; cheaters will always find a way to cheat, and you can try to subvert them as best you can but will eventually end up harming legitimate students, which is unacceptable.

What I wish existed was an independent board exam that students had to take for employment. Many professions have this, from medical professionals, accountants, engineers, and the trades. My thought is this would disincentivize cheating and encourage deep learning at the university level, while offloading the cost of cheat detection and enforcement to a board, whose job is to solely evaluate if someone is capable of entering the workforce. A separation of concerns.

Another reason for board exams: when I was working, I was asked to do a bunch of flimsy engineering to satisfy management. It would be nice if I could respond "If I do this, I could lose my license, so no." Just like if someone asked a carpenter to build a house not up to code, or a dentist told the hygienist to do shoddy work to improve throughput.

If anyone knows anything about this, I'd love to chat, because its something I've been thinking about for a long time and I hope there's a good reason why it doesn't exist.

Reply


@tomohawk 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

An honest person will do the right thing, even if they think there is no chance of being caught. A dishonest person only acts honestly when they think they will be caught. Since there are not too many honest people, our only hope against the corruption of dishonesty is to police and punish dishonesty so more people will at least act honestly.

But then, there is another thing.

Being able to get a degree has become a gate for many jobs. Adding additional courses that are not needed for those jobs may sound good, but it really just prevents some people from getting jobs they could do, but for the inappropriate gate.

Example: adding a mandatory advanced algebra course to a nursing program.

You might argue that a math course helps with abstract reasoning, but you'd be wrong. Passing a math course demonstrates an ability to do a specific kind of abstract reasoning. There is zero benefit for a nurse to be able to do advanced algebra, but many schools now require it. The result is that many people who would be great nurses cannot be a nurse unless they cheat to pass the algebra class. Faced with that decision, do you cheat, or just give up on your dream to be a nurse?

It may be hard for many HNers to comprehend this, but an inability to do advanced math is a thing. For some people, no amount of effort will lead to an understanding of the subject. It's just too abstract. These same people have plenty of other abilities, and are good at many jobs.

Can you blame a student for cheating on such a course, that everyone knows they'll never need to do the job they're going for?

Reply


@simonsarris 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> Aside from all the ways that I can be empathetic, there was a lot of evidence in the chat that students were blowing off the course and making a mockery of the whole thing. But, the brash language in the chat could also be covering up difficult issues students were facing in their lives that were preventing them from committing to their studies.

This author really does not want to confront some plain truths about his students and academia as it exists today.

> My understanding is that students who collect multiple faculty action reports like baseball cards may cease to be continuing students at my institution.

I suspect the institution doesn't give a good goddamn as long as the students wounds are self-inflected and their checks still clear.

> Even the student who sent 15 emails of lies got a second chance.

In a strange way, this article is really a character study about the author, and not at all about cheating. The author is deeply interested in procedure and drama, which makes for amusing storytelling, like a detective that's trying to find a murderer while constantly trying to convince himself that whoever he was, he didn't really mean it.

It is interesting how often he is attempting to detect cheating and plagiarism, even writing his own R scripts, and then says

> TBH, I’m so over trying to deter my students from cheating. There are so many ways I could lock down my courses. Not interested. If real life was about being monitored by proctoring software that spies on you at home and forces you to test under duress, it would be a sad real life.

But then continues attempting plagiarism detection for the rest of the semester, and the next! Maybe he considers it separate from cheating. Slightly baffled by all his behavior. He is quite kind, and expending extraordinary effort over students who are adamant about expending none at all.

Reply


@AdamH12113 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

>I knew that my students wanted a second chance, I wasn’t sure how many of them would take it. Part of completing the academic integrity assignment was a tacit admission of cheating, and some students seemed set on not admitting to anything. So, I was thrilled when I received the first completed academic integrity assignment.

>What did the student have to say? There were many full sentences and as I read them I got that feeling again. So, I copied and pasted some sentences into Google, and yup, the student was plagiarizing the academic integrity assignment. Whole swaths of text verbatim copied.

How broken of a person do you have to be to reflexively cheat on a simple assignment intended to give you a second chance after you’ve been caught cheating already? How can that be the first thing you go for? This is really sad. I seriously don’t understand the thinking here.

Reply


@c3534l 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I've never understood people's attitudes towards cheating, which is perhaps why its so prevalent. People cheat at sports all the time and people just sort of accept it. When people cheat in school, we just kind of go "well, yeah, kids do that, I guess we'll give you a few warnings first."

If someone is caught cheating how do I know they didn't cheat in previous classes, but got away with it? Do you really want to go to a doctor who, regardless of if he knows his stuff now, is the kind of person who can live with cheating? As I've grown older and seen more and more people get away with not a moment of weakness, but a deep, unfixable character flaw requiring planning and sustained effort to gain an advantage over people foolish enough to be doing things fairly, it makes me wonder why anyone chooses to tolerate this.

Who wants to get a degree from a university that knowingly and willingly passes students who cheat, but just makes them retake the course or in this case do what sounds like essentially extra credit. But rather than prevent people from participating in systems they have demonstrated are not trustworthy enough to participate in, we just give them a stern lecture and extra work, or an asterisk in their hall of fame record, or make them say they're very sorry.

Reply


@jimmaswell 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Way too soft. I went through all of college without participating in anything like that, and you know why? I'm not a scumbag parasite. These rotten apples should have been filtered out of the system long ago. Their place in society is shoveling manure, not wasting valuable space in higher education.

Reply


@efitz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I wish we would replace our current post-secondary education system with apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships could combine some classroom instruction with some actual doing.

Now you remove most of the incentive for cheating- the classroom stuff is directly relevant to you because you’re going to have to use it shortly, maybe today. It’s no longer the grade that’s important; it’s the knowledge.

The benefit of actually learning the material becomes immediate and concrete. Tthere won’t be any opportunity for cheating when you’re in front of people actually expecting you to do the thing; you either can or you can’t. And your livelihood now depends on it.

The university system is hopelessly busted in so many ways. There is no way to fix it. But there are other ways to get knowledgeable, productive professionals.

Reply


@zb1plus 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I have never understood why college professors / college classes are so uninnovative and have such an antagonistic approach to teaching/education. The entire grade culture at universities should be abolished in lieu of an evaluation system that is more reflective of the traits and skills that matter in industry and research environments. In CS programs geared towards helping graduates careers in industry, we should be rewarding students who help other succeed and in research oriented programs, we should have students conduct supervised research project oriented around their personal interests that require written and oral explanations of the work and why they choose the approach and what are the implications. There are so many easy ways to ensure cheating cannot occur that would also benefit students more than the current means of evaluation commonly used in higher education. On a semi related topic, if anyone is aware of research into experimental pedagogical approaches that move beyond traditional methods of evaluation and use concepts like mastery based learning in CS, I'd love to find a research group to work with on some ideas I have to improve instruction in CS and language learning.

Reply


@necovek 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Quite a read, indeed.

As a student witnessing the amount of cheating going on, I was always surprised about the noise raised by teachers on it: I always felt that my score was my own, and didn't care about comparing against others.

Perhaps that's why I didn't care?

Another thing is that college is voluntary, and everyone takes the courses for some perceived gain. If it's just a diploma with high GPA, I let them be.

There are also plenty of ways to legitimately score a high grade without really engaging with a course (basically silly ways to study just to pass), which in the end result is not much different from simply cheating (there was no appropriate engaging in the material) — while the main difference is in fairness, that's a moral value that's beyond some random teacher's ability to teach adult students — so I don't see why bother.

The main question I have for the author is if they would have offered the same get-out-of-trouble alternative syllabus if they had 10% of the students cheating? Basically, how influential was the proportion of students to be failed in their huge investment in reworking the course?

Obviously, they did a bad job with the original syllabus in promoting exactly the behaviour they didn't condone, but one should never discount the thrill humans experience in engaging in risky behaviour (like figuring ways out to cheat which is sometimes more work than studying, but more thrilling — and helping others along the way adds a nice cherry on top).

Reply


@cleandreams 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As a non-cheater I thought this was hilarious. It could be on tv. I thought the prof handled it very well. Recently I was invited to a discord for a calculus class. I didn't join. I wonder if cheating was going on.

Reply


@anjc 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Very disappointed at the cynicism in this thread. It seems that many people believe cheating is acceptable, or even necessary.

There is another aspect to cheating that I don't see mentioned. When lazy students become accustomed to cutting corners, they later become a legal liability as postgrads and employees, in terms of, for example, unethical research practices, copyright theft, and so on. I've seen this in my professional career from people who should know better, and I wish they were reprimanded as students rather than causing issues for the organisations that they're a part of.

There are pedagogical reasons to stop students from cheating early on, but it should be prevented for practical real-world reasons also.

Reply


@yunohn 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The amount of effort that this person put into the cheating analysis, and this blog post, is honestly super concerning.

I don’t understand the perspective of an educator who doesn’t expect cheating, and then instead of shutting down the chat immediately, keeps it open the whole semester in some fucked up moralistic detective game.

I truly feel like this was probably a boring class and the opposite of engaging. A very one sided view, we don’t see the student’s perspective at all, outside of the cheating.

Reply


@erikerikson 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

When you cheat in school...

...you cheat yourself out of an education - the opportunity to learn from and join a community of true experts.

...you cheat the society in which you live that created and supported you then provided you an educational opportunity.

...it's a pretty big middle finger to every student who didn't get the spot you did.

Probably the solution is to avoid the gatekeeping role degrees have played. Perhaps even to recognize and harness the positive aspects of the collaborative and knowledge sharing behaviors that can also serve you and the society you live in.

Reply


@grahamm 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Probably get burnt for this but too many animated gifs.

Reply


@dotnet00 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I've heard a lot of the same from the professors I'm close to, even when taking significant measures to prevent or reduce the incentive to cheat (like making the exam less important, making it open internet but no communication or using that annoyingly intrusive lockdown browser). Even when having the ability to look things up on the internet, there were cases of it being relatively obvious when people were communicating (not that I know how).

Many of them just ended up cancelling the results for those exams outright.

Reply


@panda888888 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

To play devil's advocate here, was it clear that the students knew they were cheating and that their behavior was unacceptable?

If a teacher told me that the work was open book, open notes, open internet, I might legitimately believe that I could openly talk to people about it. Probably not for an exam, but for a low-stakes, "check your knowledge" type of take-home quiz? Maybe.

I'm not sure if this is a generational divide or if the author's description of the rules was unclear, but I wonder if some students legitimately didn't realize they were cheating.

Reply


@electrondood 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Really enjoyed reading this. Well written.

Reply


@phamilton 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

In my degree (Comp Eng) we overlapped with the Comp Sci program a fair amount. Comp Sci was part of the college of mathematics and Comp Eng was part of the college of engineering, which were on opposite sides of campus and organizationally were very separate.

The cultures could not have been any more different. The engineering labs were loud, full of collaboration and discussion. The professors would sometimes find out a student copied some code and would simply ask "Well, do you understand it?".

The computer science labs were dead quiet. Strict policies around code plagiarism were posted at every door (instant fail and a 1 year ban from any CS class). People were terrified of helping each other and so everyone just worked in isolation.

I learned more in the engineering labs and made deeper connections with people. The coursework was frankly harder, we built more complex things completely from scratch, but because of the collaborative culture I was able to learn from my peers, tackle hard problems, and retain the information.

Reply


@eyelidlessness 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> For example, in this course I ran short multiple choice quizzes each week. Students could take the quiz as many times as they wanted during the week. The quiz questions changed each time (pulled randomly from a pool), and students always got their most recent quiz grade. The quizzes were low stakes. I also told students that taking the quizzes would help them study for the midterms, which would contain questions from the quizzes.

So… your students were… studying? This isn’t cheating. There’s more in the article that clearly frames these quizzes as learning reinforcement and permissive in how the students take them. The students were doing what was intended: studying the material and preparing for the exam that matters. Good for them. Shame it got missed in the zealous pursuit of a pervasive cheating racket.

Reply


@einpoklum 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Have so far read up to part III (not inclusive)

I've read the story of a failing teacher, who set up his class in a way which normal sharing of experience and information among classmates would fall under the technical definition of "cheating". In order to "not cheat", students had to artificially isolate themselves, alienate themselves from their classmates. For a person of an earlier generation, who did not take online examples when also being in a group chat on their phone, that may seem like not much of a requirement (and even then I'm not sure.)

The responsibility for this debacle lies squarely on the teacher's shoulders - perhaps with some responsibility on the department/faculty for lack of oversight and guidance regarding expected dynamics for different ways of evaluating student achievements.

Rule of thumb: When most people fail, the failure is systematic.

One must also wonder about the maturity of these students. I'm wondering if, over the past couple of decades, a more childish attitude and behavior is not presented as acceptable for a longer period of time. Suddenly these, well, judging by the chat messages, children, come up against the wall of having to obey a semi-arbitrary rule, or else. It seems like they have not been directed along a path where they could take gradual steps to scale this wall. This is perhaps less of the teacher's responsibility, but he must still realize that's the kind of student cohort he is facing.

Reply


@BizarroLand 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This was a fantastic read, thank you for sharing

Reply


@quijoteuniv 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I think there is a fundamental error in the teacher behaviour. If a student cheat in a physical class, would they wait until the end of the examn/semester or call it out unmediately? Why did he let it go on and on? With the change of paradigm with remote learning it has been a lot of grey areas, and students principles have been tested. On the teachers side they seem to focus too much in «how clever» they are they can spot the cheating, but did tjey set up the boundaries clearly?

Reply


@butterlesstoast 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I greatly respect that you were empathetic with the students. The world needs more professors like you. Truly my favorite read on Hacker News so far.

Reply


@frob 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I've had to deal with cheating in multiple classes I've taught. The second worst was when someone took their friend's code and just change the name in the header comment. They tried to claim they didn't copy but I had timestamps.

The worst was when a student turned my own solutions back into me with a few variable names changed.

Reply


@spacecadet_ 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Haven't read the entire post yet, but must say that this was the page that finally made me look into how a webpage works so I could hide the gifs to read the actual content in peace. Why would anyone, much less a cognitive psychologist, think it's a good idea to take a fairly long piece of text and then liberally shower it with attention-grabbing moving images? Must be Twitter brain.

Reply


@DeWilde 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I don't see a point in blaming students for cheating, or trying to give them a guilty conscious about how they are impacting students in curve grading scenarios.

The moral indignation that I'm seeing in the comments about this issue is just silly as the students are just acting the way humans act. Especially given the fact that most students are in their late teens or early 20's.

Cheating is just human nature, especially that some people see a degree a gateway to success or even as survival (no degree no job, no job no food). And as survival machines, like all beings, people will do whatever it takes to get a degree, including cheating least of all.

While college is an academic institution that is supposed to be about acquiring knowledge, the fact that almost every well paying job requires a degree perverses the incentives leading it to be a place where you get a diploma so you can move on with your life.

So should we just tolerate cheating, with all this in mind? No, I think the burden of preventing cheating should be on the schools themselves to design testing in a way that makes cheating harder than actually learning the subject and to make learning more engaging even for those who are there just to get a diploma. This is hard of course.

An even better solution would be to fix our current system that creates these perverse incentives. But that is even harder and I can't even phantom how that would be done.

Reply


@frellus 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

"In at least 150 words, demonstrate your understanding of what it means to behave according to a high standard of personal and academic integrity" -- should have made that 2000 words, minimum.

Great write-up, more than fair teacher who wants only what's best for their students.

Reply


@Traubenfuchs 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Now that‘s some stunning sadism Mr. Crump. Watching them run to their doom, letting them collect further violations, investing absurd amounts of time into punishing them. Has R ever been used for something more nefarious?

If a class can be passed by this kind of cheating, it‘s a shit class, simple as that.

Classes need to be designed with the knowledge in mind, that the modern student is a highly social, cooperative creature that grew up with cheating being completely normal.

I designed classes by 80% of credit being given for big, final projects and the verbal, live „defensio style“ explanation they had to do for their projects, with me asking class general and project specific questions that made detecting fraud and grading very easy.

Your saving grace might be that you actually managed to create a somewhat more engaging and useful class after all. But besides that, your behavior was sadistic and frankly, inhumane.

Reply


@hit8run 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The whole capitalist system is broken. Not only the teaching part. Our world is ridiculously fucked up and we can count the days till it will collapse.

Reply


@mastermedo 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I suggest adding an estimated reading time by the title. It took me ~45min, and I loved every other minute of it. The fillers were not so fun, but I enjoyed the way the promises pull the reader back into the story.

Reply


@texaslonghorn5 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

At the very end of the day, none of the economic consequences really matter, but the honest student gets to feel good about themselves for having integrity, the remorseful dishonest student feels remorse, and the amoral dishonest student was lost from the start.

Reply


@rsecora 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Paralelisms with deep learning.

He mixed training data (pool of quiz) with test data.

By the second midterm, he changed the approach to catch the cheaters.

Reply


@twodave 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Software engineering in general does not test well. It is, like many trades, best learned by modeling. This isn’t really conducive to large classrooms/numbers of students. In the end copying is perhaps exactly the best way to learn good programming practices.

What do we do to train our more junior coworkers? Tell them to figure it out? Sink or swim? No, we write mountains of documentation, examples, pair program, etc. We actually value consistency and predictability between engineers. We like doing all these things universities tend not to do.

Reply


@realitysballs 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I hate to be a cynic here but I feel like education should be engineered in a manner that either :

(A) assumes cheating will take place whenever possible and create curriculum , assignments, quizzes and exams with this in mind.

(B) disincentivize cheating. This is tough to do but if someone is motivated not by a grade but by the experience or knowledge gain itself cheating is no longer of interest.

Reply


@gbronner 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Clearly he needs a punishment that costs the students a lot of time. Maybe submit a 12 hour video of you doing every single problem in all the problem sets

Reply


@nr2x 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Exams are the mark of a lazy instructor who doesn’t want to design appropriately challenging assignments, as the author says: “I hadn’t fully prepped the class”.

Reply


@Abroszka 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

If I understand correctly, they had an online async test and they shared screenshots of the answers. Is that even cheating? It wouldn't even register as cheating for me... When I was at the university (not US) we had these online "tests" too, but it was a different category than the real tests. Nobody really cared what you do. Sometimes we sat down together and did it one by one (especially if it was some random generated math problem), other times we just shared the answers (when the test was too lame...)

Reply


@Dinux 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Most of the comments seems to be about the impact of cheating on the class or how the system is broken and how it should be fixed. Fact of the matter is, most cheating pays off. In my experience a prof or teacher will rarely go so far as been described in this story.

I took a massive gamble on my high school finals to not only cheat but to steal thousands of tests and exams via malware that I wrote over the course of a year. Its been 10 years since that happened, and reading this I might do a story of how I stole 1 terabyte of data in my final year, and passed all my exams.

Reply


@sharikous 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

A good answer for this problem is just to produce the sort of questions that are fit to open book exams (I.e. resistant to access to materials) and give a different question to each student.

It can be done by varying a bit the parameters of the question for each student and I am sure AI based solutions for producing a lot of questions are possible

Reply


@bradlys 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As someone who “cheated” - it was a requirement to pass classes. “Professors” (researchers and post-docs who hated lecturing) were in a constant arms race against the students. We were assigned problems routinely that we would ask the professor to solve in class - they could not do it. They would fail it themselves. This happened in multiple subjects.

Many classes also had students not showing up if it was clear that they were not going to need to be in class to know the subject material. If you could read it from the book and the professor was straight forward with their testing - students wouldn’t show. It was a waste of time to go to the lectures because often these professors were absolutely terrible. You were just better off reading the book because you’d be less confused by that.

Tbh - college is a giant scam in the way many people think of it as a way of “learning”. For myself and many of my peers - it was purely a transactional procedure. We needed the credentials and we needed good grades in those credentials. Everything else was secondary.

Optimizing for “learning” is such a joke in our capitalistic winner takes all economy. Give me a break. I’m not a Rothschild ffs.

Reply


@j7ake 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This was a great read. I wonder if it's actually more time-efficient at some point to just do an oral exam rather than these paper exams.

In oral exams, it's obvious whether you know the material or not.

It may appear more time-consuming, but considering there is no need to grade or worry about cheating, you may come out ahead.

Reply


@mjfl 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

How dumb do you have to be to cheat on a chat app hosted by your professor?

Did they even know they were cheating? Maybe they thought it was okay?

Reply


@lastdong 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

What a great read, thank you, this could prob end up being a book! :)

Memories come to mind, from students sharing same day exam questions to parents trying to help their son organise the prints of a final assignment he clearly didn’t write (I overheard ‘we need to call him, we paid good money’). Several levels, criminal even, of cheating.

In the end, for most of us, the gc was the group studies and discussing last assignments after results were out. Learning with each other and cooperation is so fundamental.

What I loved most about the story if most people are shown the way, they won’t cheat, and will thrive. makes you wonder if most cheaters just don’t know any better

Reply


@sdk16420 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

>Too bad you used the same phone number that you have on file with the university.

Regardless of the legitimate discussion on cheating, why would a lecturer have access to student phone numbers, either directly or after asking the student affairs office to link them to names? The further I got in the article, the more it seemed like Reddit-style creative writing.

Reply


@obscura 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The animated GIFs are really distracting and detract from the writing. I eventually deleted them from the parts I hadn't yet read.

I have to say that Crump was incredibly forgiving and put in a lot of extra effort. I don't think anyone I've been taught by would have gone to this much trouble.

Reply


@someRandoJunk 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It's hilarious how common this is, as a TA, I had to deal with this entirity of last few semesters. My students aren't that dumb to invite me into the group chat though.

I have to say the school really let the instructor down. An instructor should not have to fill 70 forms.

Reply


@LAC-Tech 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This is a widespread problem. The inevitable outcome is that university education loses more and more prestige.

Maybe this is the way it has to be. Self-taught people with impressive portfolios start becoming more and more attractive while well-qualified people become less and less attractive - or even suspect.

Reply


@CalRobert 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My former boss was an utter buffoon who knew nothing whatsoever about his field but managed to make $3 million as a "director" in the couple years before he was finally fired. Cheating seems to work well.

Reply


@JoaoCostaIFG 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I guess I can share a similar story, being a student and all. Last year, even though we were in lock down, most courses delayed the final exams, so they could be taken in person. The exception was a machine learning course, where we were allowed to do the exams online.

When students heard about this, they got really excited, because cheating would be easier. So, the day of the exam comes, and I hear multiple say they didn't even study, and that it is going to be the easiest exam ever. Almost everybody I knew cheated on that exam, and the teachers found out. The funny thing is that there were no sanctions, because everyone used the excuse of "we are so stressed with the pandemic situation", and the teachers bought it. Needless to say that it was all lies. Almost no one was suffering with the pandemic. As a matter of fact, I still haven't met someone that didn't love being home playing games and talking with friends while in class.

Reply


@zelienople 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Cheating... I'm not sure that word means what you think it means.

Give a quiz that can be completed in your own time over the course of a week. That sounds more like an assignment to me. So... the cheating was violating the rule that it can't be done cooperatively? If I'm cheating by asking other students about an assignment then I think I cheated on everything.

And, of course, I did not. My answers to assignments were my own, but, often, I collaborated with other students to understand the questions, or to develop an idea of how to approach finding the solutions, or to clarify issues that were unclear.

And, always, to make sure I got the right answer. Because if I didn't, it meant that I did not understand something and I needed to go back over the material to work out what that was. Any other approach would have rendered school valueless.

This is the normal process of education. You can tell that I did not cheat because my work and my answers were unique. If I submitted an image of someone else's work, that would be obvious.

Ah, but wait! I think I see. If the answers are multiple choice, that doesn't work.

But why are they multiple choice? To make it easier and cheaper for the school. Your inflation of the profit margin on my education makes me a cheater because you can't tell if I did the work myself? That sounds about right.

I think academic integrity is eroded more by the profit motive than by the Jesuitical definition of cheating in the article.

Even though I went to what are considered some the best schools, the greatest insult to academic integrity was always the faculty, because most of them didn't know the subject they were teaching, faked it, and didn't care.

And when I see many of the students who didn't cheat coming out of school not knowing shit from Shinola, I have to wonder why it matters? You get out what you put in, so who cares if people violate an arcane rule that says, "this, this here is an assignment; but that over there, that thing that looks identical to this in every way, that's a quiz, so don't talk to your friends about it or we'll nip your promising young academic career in the bud. Understand?"

The only lesson here is that you need to cheat better.

Reply


@voidfunc 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Not surprised. Just about everyone performs some amount or cheating in high school and college. Really if anything these places are teaching you not to get caught.

To be honest I think academic integrity policies are stupid. Colleges administrators are living in a pretend world that doesn’t exist where they think the kids are there because they care and dont just want the piece of paper they are paying 200K for so they can go get a job in the real world and start paying down their debt.

Im so incredibly past giving a shit about cheating in college.

Reply


@a1371 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This... was hard to read for me. I am not the type who jumps on the bandwagon of "schools are dead" but I had to pause here:

> This was the first time when 75% of the class was cheating way beyond the pale for half a semester

I know people who are on school for immigration reasons. Specially with computer science, there is so much nonsense that sometimes people must work through. This doesn't mean they don't have integrity.

The author says they sympathize with students. But do they really? Making the students write a humiliating "academic integrity essay" is not engagement. It's forcing someone to smile and then boasting that they have a good time.

I am forever grateful for my bachelor's. Not because they thought us a lot, actually the opposite. I happened to be in a unique situation in which course work was practically non-existent.

It was marvelous! As a 19 year old I was just learning to have adult social experiences and the school really allowed me to do that. The classes were not about pass or fail. They were about being in an environment and finding what's interesting within it. I know it sounds like this sort of thing will create terrible candidates for FAANG, and maybe so (not in our case), but perhaps it could also avoid the need to question the integrity of a teenager.

Reply


@andrewflnr 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Despite this teacher's miraculous extraction of some character growth from a handful of the cheaters, I still think he should have just failed all of them as soon as he had an airtight case against them. There is no moral or practical justification for tolerating cheaters. They make a mockery of honest students and the higher education as a whole. They're a menace to the society into which they're released with a stamp of approval they have stolen rather than earned. They deserve only failure and humiliation, and if they consistently received it there would be far fewer of them.

We must assume they don't care about learning, so if we want to cram some knowledge into them anyway, hit them the only place they apparently care about: their transcript. Either they'll shape up or be rightfully denied the (ever more scant) honor of a degree. The heroics of the author here cannot be scaled, and we shouldn't be asking anyone to go to that extent. Just fail the bastards. You're only recording what's already true.

Reply


@Havoc 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

>I messaged the student that they had plagiarized the assignment from a website. I sent the link. They immediately wrote back and said I had the wrong link and that they copied it from a different website.

Plagerizing an ethics violation apology letter...to a lecturer who is clearly on a mission. At that stage just fail them.

Clearly they have neither ethics nor intelligence going for them so that spot in higher education is best taken up by a more deserving member of society.

Reply


@Ameo 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This post really turned my stomach, but not because of the cheating. Yeah, obviously the cheating is wrong and students who cheated should be held accountable according to university policy. Yeah, it's nice that the professor was able to get something of a "happy ending" for at least some of the students at the end.

But the whole meat of this enormous post is the professor having a massive power trip while toying around with the students, reading every message they post without them knowing.

He knew this cheating was happening pretty early on. He was writing R scripts to cross-reference all the group chat participants to the individuals involved. He wrote up all those reports and then still goes ahead with the second midterm. He obviously took pleasure in examining how they were acting; he has dozens and dozens of individual chat messages pasted into that post complete with his snarky little comments about them:

> “nah i aint cheat i took that exam at 7 and did it alone still failed” (hmmm, let me cross reference this claim with your texts in the chat at 7…)

> “if i find out who snitched we got a problem fr” (I had to report this student to judicial affairs)

There are more and more. The professor is clearly relishing each of these little pieces of evidence, filling out all of those forms, and watching the students squirm and panic as he tells them he knows they're cheating:

> There was no way I was going to keep a straight face, plus I wanted to see what happened on the chat, so I video muted myself (bad internet connection day).

It's borderline sadistic. He could have ended the whole debacle at any point, be he chose to spend dozens of hours poring over this chat and examining the students' reactions to what he was doing. Especially given the conclusion where he put in options for all or most of the students who cheated to redeem themselves - at least partially.

The only constructive piece of this entire post is the end where for the second asynchronous version of the course, he adjusts its design and content to be more engaging and conducive to online learning. The rest is just an obsessive power trip.

Reply


@hyperman1 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I see cheating more as a symptom for the inability to plan. People get a week, and start 5 hours before delivery time. At that point, only cheating or cramming is goung to save you. He might have shifted the balance, but the underlying problem is still there.

So there is a failure in at least the rich, western world:. We can't teach enough children to plan for a week or more. Anyone an idea how to deal with this?

Reply


@spencerchubb 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The thing that stands out to me is that the professor is bewildered about all of the cheating happening. As a student, this story is very common and almost "normal"

Reply


@noisy_boy 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Use a question generator- unique questions for everyone, every time.

Reply


@navane 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

These students are ready to enter the workforce. Result driven, team players, pro-active, tech savvy. They are displaying all qualities required to be a productive employee. To them, and in practice, education is merely a hurdle. Just graduate them already.

Reply


@eruci 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

OK. This is a long slog, but I skimmed and got the gist.

There must be a technical solution to the cheating problem.

Many years ago I taught an intro to programming course. For the grading I built a randomized online test - students would have one hour to answer a number of programming questions using a terminal in the computer lab, and would get their grade as the test progressed with the final grade after the last question. It worked both at freeing up my time for grading, and eliminating cheating.

Automated randomized testing in all types of classes (not just an intro class where this task is much simpler) would go a long way towards solving the cheating problem.

There, a problem for all you to solve.

Reply


@jonstewart 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My employer hires a batch of new college grads every year, and they spend time in their first year on different rotations. I spent some time recently with one, going over some advanced CS topics — and started by talking school coursework.

It was eye-opening. I had a miserable pandemic, juggling childcare and online school for my kids with my own job. But this colleague had gotten interested in CS somewhat late in college and had only had a few in-person CS classes before the switch to online. In the colleague’s words, “quality declined a lot then.”

There’s a new cohort of college students who’ve been given a terrible education, and have a lot of loans to pay off. I don’t condone the cheating in TFA, but the professor seems to have a formalist rigidity to academic honesty while teaching a course online in a way that’s almost designed for cheating. And rather than admonishing students when he became aware of what was happening he spent time (days? weeks?) analyzing the chat while the behavior continued.

I empathize a lot with students who’ve just been through a terrible educational experience. The effort this prof has put into plagiarism detection could arguably have been better spent on improving course materials and grading mechanisms to render cheating rare/ineffectual.

Reply


@cornel_io 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> I had been avoiding grading weekly writing assignments because I had many students and no teaching assistant to help me with the grading

Bruh. During the remote-only pandemic? Sounds like you were a lazy professor. I get that it's hard to do work, but this is obvious stuff. Give your students easily cheatable assignments and it's no surprise that they cheat.

Reply


@baalimago 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Seems like the students spent more time into getting their cheating scheme to work than actually studying the material

Reply


@Hasz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Lol, you cheat, you fail. Why is this complicated? Prof is far, far too nice.

However, I think students having an obligation to report cheating to the university is ridiculous. Find the cheaters yourself, or give me a bonus to do it for you.

Reply


@jmull 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I honestly don’t get widespread cheating like this…

You’re paying so much money for these courses — probably a ridiculous amount, so much you may never recoup — … so at least get everything out of it you can. Otherwise, why sign up in the first place?

Let me tell you: essentially no one cares what grade you got in your courses. (Sure, there are cases, but over time they quickly attenuate from “sometimes” to “never” as time passes.) You might as well strive, get the most you can out of the course, and let the grade fall where it may.

Here’s an idea: if you’re cool with cheating, after school is over, just lie when anyone asks your gpa. You can get all the A’s, in one single, easy, low-risk cheat. Many won’t check and there’s little consequence for those that do (maybe you wasted some time at a job interview). This “frees” you to just do the best you can when you’re actually taking the courses — to get the most out of them you can — no risk, all gain.

Reply


@Folcon 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I might have missed it, but I'm not seeing much discussion on the followup[0] where he talks about moving to a more asynchronous course where it was possible to do enough extra credit assignments that students could bomb their exams and still get an A for the course.

The teacher seems very interested in student engagement with the material and understanding. Which I can only view as a positive.

-[0]: https://crumplab.com/articles/blog/post_996_5_20_22_assignme...

Reply


@reactjavascript 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My university had a strict anti-cheating policy in the CS program. It was written very broadly. As a disadvantaged student, first in my family to attend college, I needed to graduate more than anything else in the world. The policy forbade discussing assignments or solutions with other students. The end result is I was terrified of socializing with any other CS students. I wonder how much I missed out on due to sheer terror and high stakes.

Reply


@hutzlibu 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I am reminded of a quote from fictional character Hagbard Celine (Illuminatus!)

"They are not in university to get knowledge, they are here to receive papers that say they are qualified for job xy"

Reply


@aledalgrande 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Order of importance you get told at school: grades, experience, network. Order of importance you realize is out there in life: network, experience, grades.

I have a masters and never have I been asked for it for work (either for credentials or because I actually needed the advanced topics in it). Grades never ever been on the table.

Reply


@dehrmann 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

How's the saying go? If you find 10 cheaters, that's their problem. If you find 100 cheaters, that's your problem.

Or the California driver thinking of "if we're all speeding, they can't ticket all of us."

Also some interesting practical game theory lessons in here.

Reply


@paulpauper 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'd hate to be a professor, for this reason. having to spend hours/day teaching stuff to ppl who don't care. such a waste of effort for both student and professor.

Reply


@dleslie 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This is part of why academic credentials have both lost their intrinsic value and become mandatory for all candidates.

While it may seem contradictory at first, the appearance of low ability amongst credentialed candidates also lowers the perceived value of the non-credentialed; fore if the credentialed are so lacking in ability, then those unable to achieve even such a low bar must be worse, yes?

Of course, this isn't always true. But for hiring managers dealing with an insurmountable mountain of candidates any generalized filtering metric, however shaky in its footing, is appealing.

Widespread cheating is part of why we have credential inflation.

Reply


@mgaunard 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The fault lies with the teacher, not the students.

Designing an exam that can be so trivially gamed to get 100% is irresponsible.

You cannot blame the students for taking the optimal sequence of actions to maximize their chances of a perfect grade while minimizing their chances of a bad grade.

Reply


@tomohawk 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Honestly, if academic institutions don't get serious about cheating, at what point does industry stop paying any attention to whether you have a degree or not? What's the point of even requiring a degree for anything when there is a very large chance the degree holder is just a good cheater?

Reply


@zabzonk 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

To all "professors" (so-called) - you are not there to TEST people, you are there to EDUCATE them. Cheating in this context becomes impossible.

Reply


@dmje 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

What makes me sad isn't any of the mechanics around cheating, it's that such a vast percentage of people aren't honest. What is the point in doing any kind of learning at all - in fact, anything at all - if you're just going to fake it?

Reply


@landr0id 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Good read, but man those gifs are distracting.

Reply


@ilaksh 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This kind of thing is why I generally don't like people. They are mostly garbage.

Reply


@andreskytt 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This is why I do not teach on graduate level. There is only so much I’m willing to do to drag some damn sod kicking and screaming through the content. There is only so much effort I’m willing to put into engaging people who actively do not want to be engaged.

Also, I have a trauma from a calculus exam back in my day. Writen exam, physcial classroom, first year students. The professor hands out the exam, then proceeds to smile, go “i’m gonna get a coffee” and leave. Yay, let’s look things up! In about 3 minutes all of us realized there is nothing to look up. The questions were constructed in a fashion that you could only answer them if you understood the material. Also, any plagiarism would have been obvious. Besides, none of the questions seemed to have _a_ correct answer.

I cannot compose such exams. Therefore I keep an eye out for obvious things but generally assume my students either are motivated enough or are not worth the time to chase after them. I do my best to keep them interested, though. As to grading, I do oral exams over video calls. Takes about 8 min per person and this is where they can’t cheat. They either understand or it’s obvious they don’t.

Reply


@thih9 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I don't like how the teacher created an anonymous account and started listening to students' conversations. That on its own is creepy at best and lacking academic integrity at worst.

Then he muted it for a couple of months and resumed after accidentally discovering a violation. Then didn't act immediately but waited and observed more violations.

Reply


@zigzag312 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Best tests I had were the ones you could bring your notes or even any book to. The questions were structured in a way, that you had to know and understand the topic quite well to be able to answer/solve them in time. You couldn't just copy answers from the material you brought it with you, but you could use it as a reference to help you solve problems, like you use references in real life to find solutions to problems. If you didn't know the topic well, you didn't stand a chance to complete the test in time.

The tests I respected the least, were the ones were you were required to write down memorized definitions. I mean why? In this day and age I can google any definition on my phone in few seconds. I can also memorize definition of some rule without properly understanding it. That's not useful. Give me a task to solve that requires me to truly understand that rule.

Reply


@blintz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Discussion forums like Piazza can really help with stuff like this. By allowing students to communicate with each other in public, with TAs/instructors explicitly present answering questions, the need to get a group chat going diminishes and you avoid the temptation to cheat.

As an aside, I will say, weekly quizzes are one of the lowest-reward types of homework. They are mainly favored by instructors because they are automatically graded, and they do really little to make you excited about the material. Students recognize and respond to instructor effort (or a lack thereof); if there’s a written assignment every two weeks that students know you are going to take time to grade and give feedback on, then they are significantly more likely to invest the effort to do it well.

Reply


@markus_zhang 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

You know the saddest thing is that people don't even know how to cheat properly.

Reply


@DeathArrow 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

One of the teachers at my University realized that people were cheating just by looking at the graph of marks. Because the marks did not follow a gaussian distribution, it was pretty clear that cheating was implied. No need to spy on Whatsapp and run scripts for months.

They were pretty severe at the institution level about cheating. All Batchelor and Masters thesis are run through multiple fraud detecting software.

People were forced to do a mandatory Academic Integrity course for one semester and they had to sign legal papers in which they assumed the obligation to respect certain rules.

Reply


@hutattedonmyarm 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Interesting, that they used Whatsapp. My impression was, that it’s barely used in the US. I’d expected to see a discord server instead

Reply


@Aldraz1 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Yes, cheating nowadays is almost inevitable, because of changed society principles to life, easy access to information, easy access to cheating smart devices, etc.

The solution? Let's finally evolve from schooling and let's forget that schools and universities exist. Let's open source degrees and make them much more compelling. Let's do everything online. Let's create collaborative labs in VR.

Reply


@fjfbsufhdvfy 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Reminds me of the time where someone shared the pdf for our final exam the day before it was going to be held, including the sample solutions and grading key. I still have absolutely no idea how it was obtained.

It certainly made for good learning material.

Reply


@melony 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Colleges need to make up their mind about undergraduate education. The primary drivers of university rankings are research, staff and teaching quality, and professor to student ratio. Your average undergraduate STEM student at Harvard and Dartmouth (lets ignore the other more academic Ivies for now and focus purely on rankings and reputation) will not be subjected to the same rigor in assessments as a typical student at Berkeley or Geogia Tech in the same faculty after taking into account grade inflation. Yet those degrees from the former schools are worth "more" and the value of their degrees is not deminished in any sense. Clearly merit and hard work ends at the admissions office. After that it is just network and legacy.

Reply


@dehrmann 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Not speaking to how to address cheating, but I found this interesting:

> The content can be things like my old exams that someone uploaded without my permission

But later...

> And, sometimes as a professor who has access to online plagiarism tools like turnitin or safe-assign, you just want better tools.

So students submitting "your" content (it was produced as part of employment, so it's almost certainly not actually his, and it was arguably licensed to students by the university) is bad, but submitting their content to a service that retains a copy and profits off it isn't?

Reply


@chociej 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Look, I was a pretty crappy student in a lot of ways. But this thread has a few instances of folks implying that, especially at more "elite" schools, blatant cheating is practically routine and everyone does it. Again, I was not a model student, but it's pretty maddening to hear that. I didn't cheat to get my degree. I'd ask that you all not rationalize your cheating to the point of making your successors feel comfortable doing so, or worse, feel like outcasts for not doing so.

Reply


@bnj 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I’m honestly surprised to see so many responses in this thread that diverge so wildly from my own.

It was inappropriate for this instructor to join the chat and silently surveil their students. When they saw the students exchanging information like that the first time after forgetting about it, they should have posted a warning on the thread and left.

Some of the energy of analyzing their students cheating would have been better spent looking at how to make the assessment of learning more resistant to a student sharing a screenshot of a question.

Reply


@neilv 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It used to be that a good liberal arts university might claim to teach students "how to learn".

Given all the recent deterioration of discourse, maybe the university should start with a remedial "how not to be a liar and a cheat".

Reply


@mslupski1 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

How is this person teaching anybody if they can't even properly write, format, and cut out all the bull**t from their own article? This reads like a first-grader's story at best. I have zero credibility that this even happened. And the fucking gifs throughout the article... give me a break.

Reply


@paradite 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

One of the longest read I've completed online this year.

The author obviously care a lot about integrity and plagiarism and a lot has been discussed from the author's perspective. I wonder if we can analyze this case study from a game theory angle.

What's the payoff matrix looking like for students in the class at various phases of development?

Were students incentivized to cheat due to the structure of curriculum?

What are the Nash equilibrium scenarios for both professor and students? And how many of them are Pareto optimal?

Reply


@celeritascelery 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

At my college there was a class where one of the teacher assistants got ahold of the answer key and handed it out to class mates. The memorized the key, not the answers, but the actual “A,B,A,C,C…” of the key. We told the professor, so he just rearranged the answers. So every student that cheated got a perfect 0. This had the effect of them failing the assignment on their own, and also telling you who the cheaters were.

Reply


@EvgeniyZh 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'm sure same thing happens (or at least happened) in every other course. I'll go as far as to say that any assignment performed not in controlled environment will mean that student work all available sources, including other students.

One solution is make HW an evidence of effort, not knowledge. That's what happens in many courses in my uni: HW are some 10-30% of final grade and average is very high. Students share their solutions with each other and we are ok with it (well TAs are definitely aware) as soon as it is not copy-paste. It is so common that it is called "reference" solution.

Then there are courses that are hard to evaluate during the exam (e.g., programming ones). It seems that my uni solution is to give assignment so hard it will require understanding even when cheating (unless someone solves it for you of course). There are assignments taking north of 40 hours for top students (from scratch).

My point is that cheating is of course bad. But trying to catch cheaters beyond very obvious ones is just waste of time. Just design your course as cheat-proof as possible: ideally, the student who didn't learn won't pass given all possible external resources at home.

Reply


@Kab1r 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'm a undergraduate student in California and I've had the opportunity to be a grader for a quarter. While I did not enjoy the work, it really changed the way I looked at classes. I was not in charge of finding or reporting cheating, but I still did see a decent amount of it. The most interesting instance I saw, while not technically considered academic dishonesty under our policy, was a group of students who cited each other's work in the class. Sometimes it would be the same assignment where students would cite specific line numbers in other students work. Our policy for this was supposed to be to give students zero on the assignment for turning in work that was not theirs but not to report them because it was not a violation under the universities policy. I notified a TA in a better position to deal with it, but I think it might have been to late in the quarter to do anything and they never got back to me about it.

Reply


@lamontcg 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Feels like we're seeing this all over society. From the way executives in businesses and politicians act all the way down to the way people drive. And everyone has a blizzard of excuses for why they constantly look to cut corners.

And these are the kids that are supposedly so much better than the old boomers and they're cheating like it is a reflex.

Reply


@stadia42 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The professor surely knows that cheating is near universal because the incentive structure of modern life makes cheating optimal in expectation. Nothing he can do will change this fundamental fact. So why bother?

Reply


@ceeplusplus 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Online exams without proctoring are a recipe for disaster, and I think that should be pretty obvious to any instructor.

Reply


@rwoerz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My anecdote:

1. Tell students that the remote exam is open book. Everything is allowed EXCEPT for any communication between students. Moreover, there is a Zoom breakout room for discussing specific questions with ME.

2. Exam starts.

3. Students move to that breakout room to exchange solutions.

Reply


@Tarsul 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My opinion is that he failed as a teacher.

I mean, come on, imagine a scenario where class A has a test and class B has the same test a day after. Of course the people in class B will ask the people of class A what was in the test. Of course. That's why everyone is tested at the same time.

Reply


@zcbenz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I really admire the author of this post, He is very responsible of his students and takes his course seriously, how lucky his students are.

When I was in college I was attending a course teaching to build C++ project, the professor checks plagiarism by checking the creation date of source code files, since the project was built step by step with new files being added progressively.

I was being perfectionism about my code and did a lot of refactoring before submitting the project, and got a very low score because the professor saw the dates of my files were new and all the same and thought I copied my homework from someone else. While the ones who actually did plagiarize the homework got high scores, because they copied other students' source code lesson by lesson.

My professor obviously did not even read the source code of our homework, otherwise he would easily know who was writing original code and who was just copying.

Reply


@denton-scratch 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Many years ago I was a visiting part-time lecturer (a.k.a. lowest of the low). I was given the syllabus summary from the prospectus, and then had to write a syllabus; prepare teaching material; write tests/exams; and mark submissions.

The institution was far from elite; they used to send staff on recruitment drivs in faraway places, because (a) overseas students get to come th this country when otherwise they wouldn't get a visa; and (b) they pay more. The result was that many of the students were rich, and assumed they didn't have to work. Many didn't have basic qualifications for doing the work. So they cheated extensively (there was no web and no WhatsApp; they just copied one-another's coursework submissions).

I asked my experienced colleagues what to do. They said that I could report the cheating to the school; but I would then be tied up in exam boards all summer, for which I wouldn't be paid. Also I could expect to have to fight charges of racism. Alternatively I could explain to them the difference between helping one-another out (good) and plagiarism (bad). Guess which choice I took!

Basically, the institution didn't care about plagiarism; they didn't care about the unfairness to honest students; and I don't think they cared whether the students learned anything. By the next year, I didn't care either. I just delivered the material, and went home.

Reply


@Gtex555 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

We cheat on our partners , will cheat on taxes if we can. The only effective way to stop humans cheating is punishment as a deterrent. We cheat because we are smart, get the same result for less work and even if the cheating takes the same amount of work as studying at least it was your decision. I don't get how this teacher or OP is so surprised that students would cheat. Most of us don't want to be in school, its just a necessary evil to get that all important paper. These students are completely rational and just got unlucky.

Reply


@MadWombat 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

shrug perverse incentives. For a lot of college students, the actual learning or lack thereof, while still important, does not affect them directly. But getting a bad grade does. Drop in average grade might affect their scholarships, various arrangements with their families and possibly future employment prospects. So while not learning the material properly is bad in a somewhat abstract and theoretical way, getting a bad grade might have a very practical adverse effect. And I am not even going to mention the social stigma of getting bad grades.

So yeah, getting a good grade is more important than actually learning and let's be honest, cheating is a more energy efficient way of getting good grades.

Reply


@madhadron 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

There's an easy solution to this kind of cheating: stop grading. Switch to evaluations and self evaluations. Evergreen State College and a few others already do this. If there's no GPA, there's nothing to game.

It means you can't run giant survey classes and asynchronous, online courses.

It's sad to see cheating this rampant. When I was doing my physics undergraduate degree, we had little to no cheating. We worked together on homework (as expected by the professors) and tests I think everyone was scrupulously honest on. The one time someone asked for help, multiple people yelled at him. This was at University of Virginia, which has an honor code. There was a lot of cheating in the big survey classes, but students in the upper level classes in their majors took it fairly seriously.

Reply


@lexluthor76567 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This guy is an idiot.

He created a testing system that encourages cheating. He made it too easy to cheat, so if one student cheated other students (who are all in competition together) would need to cheat as well less they receive a relatively lower grade.

Then when he detected the cheating he didn’t attempt to minimize the damage. Instead he focused all his time and effort building a solution that nobody needed, and let the main problem escalate to the point where nearly all his students were cheating.

The lecturer should be fired.

Reply


@thunkshift1 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Epilogue 2.. the group has now moved to something called ‘Discord’

Reply


@trivialsoup 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Personally I find cheating repellent. But if a bunch of cheaters can curve you into a lower grade, you don’t know the material.

Reply


@DeathArrow 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This will only get worse as new generations are taught to demand immediate satisfaction and to abhore having to work for results. They think they deserve anything for the simple fact they exist and desire it.

Replacing scientists with political activists and learning with political activism in Universities just magnified this phenomenon.

This will make the people with knowledge and ability and desire to do work 100x more precious.

And the markets are rewarding the hard work and knowledge, not anything else.

I am trying to instill in my small kids the desire to learn and the ability to work. It will be a hard fight because I will sometimes have to fight against school, politics and the current norms of some parts of the society. But my duty as a parent is to try to prepare them for the future, to make them winners.

Reply


@montefischer 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Would things like this still occur if a person's educational history data were treated like their medical data under HIPAA? It is the cleanest proposal I have seen for decoupling education from careerist motivations.

Reply


@rurban 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I could also talk a lot like this how my students tried to cheat, and how I detected it. 20 years ago.

I had to write special programs to detect written cheats. The online cheating during the written exam was easy to detect, the offline not so. But having written this program helped a lot, and I told nobody the details.

In the end the cheaters were the minority. But if you allow it to spread, 90% will start cheating. The broken windows theory.

PS: And I still talk a lot to my professor colleagues, who are still teaching at university. They told me that COVID was a total cheating desaster. Everyone cheated, everyone. It was impossible to do proper exams at the end of the course. They are all extremely frustated.

Reply


@xen0 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

What struck me the most when reading this, is how long they waited to inform the students they knew cheating was occurring. If they had informed the class earlier, they may have been able to stem the worst of it, rather than letting it become normalised. Still spend the time afterwards to fill out the forms and engage with the relevant students, but don't wait to notify until you think you know everything, because that just leaves time for more shit to happen.

Reply


@caenorst 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My experience seems to resonate with a good amount of ppl here. I graduated from a very average university and my grades were a roller-coaster, I tend to prefer learning in depth topics that I'm interested into rather than study for exam and that led me to difficult times. I went to a more prestigious university for exchange and to my surprise students were not better in in-depth understanding but even more exam-smart...

One thing I've ended thinking is that University is just not good for learning in-depth (at least my field of computer engineering) I'm way better at that on my own, what it was good at tho is helping me building a map of knowledge of concepts I was not aware of, I'm thankful I discovered ML in a class which then became my passion and career.

Reply


@derevaunseraun 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This happened to me in undergrad with an autograded class. I remember soloing the class and thinking that the assignments were super hard. They would post grade averages for assignments and I was doing worse than usual.

I remember a TA posting about cheating being an issue. They even released a graph of anonymized student repositories with edges indicating a detected instance of cheating

Turned out that a HUGE cohort of people were cheating (I think maybe over half the class).

The scariest thing about cheating is that whenever a bunch of people do it (and aren't caught), it screws up the class curve so much that people who don't cheat will be forced to put in way more time studying, which will then take time away from other classes. It also screws up metrics that the professors and TAs use to understand how well they're teaching material, which assignments to drop, etc

imo this is why people shouldn't cheat. If nobody cheats, the grades might on average be lower but once the class is curved or assignments are dropped it will be a fair indicator of where everyone is at. If people cheat, it screws up the fairness and can encourage others to start cheating. If everyone (or most) are cheating, you have people who aren't getting anything out of the class, getting credits as prerequisite that they shouldn't be getting, moving on to future classes and continuing the cycle

Reply


@jwmoz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I used to program answers into my graphic calculator for things I couldn't remember

Reply


@selfhifive 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The other side of the argument is that online classes have horrible engagement. Orders of magnitude worse than a normal class.

Virtual meetings also induce more fatigue in the participants than normal meetings (researched).

One or two off weeks can derail a whole semester. And professors themselves seem lost in absence of live feedback.

The schedules for live classes are rigid. While at college it is easy to follow them as you're in the same place, but schedules of individual homes vary widely and many students don't have the means to change them to suit the class timings.

Reply


@thecleaner 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

How exactly was it cheating ? Students were allowed to share questions or answers and they did just that on a WhatsApp group. Did i read something wrong ? I didn't quite get the path that would be considered cheating.

Reply


@juhanima 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

What bothers me in this story is that it makes it sound as if it's easy to spot from the whatsapp chat who cheated. That doesn't make sense to me. Surely the students who cheated the worst were the ones who used the shared answers from the chat. But how do you monitor that? Those who shared the answers obviously got them by other means, so did they really cheat or just be too helpful by academic standards?

Reply


@ajdegol 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

During my undergrad comp physics days we had to print out our code when handing in assignments. It was possible to grab a printout and photocopy it. I was fairly well known for my crass wit and I got an email from the head of comp labs informing me that two identical pieces of code had been handed in… but due to the numerous occurrences of the word “boned” in the error messages, he assumed the original was mine.

Reply


@mattwilsonn888 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Cheating is not about the instructors. As gutting as it may be to be a teacher and learn that your students are not interested in honestly engaging in what you may be passionate about, the harm cheaters spread is 10x worse for honest students than it is any instructor.

Reply


@MRobb91827 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'm really torn on whether this was handled right. A real thing in the pandemic is that everyone was cheating all the time, at every level. Students looking at there phone when they weren't suppose to, printing things out, being in various chats, whatever. It seemed sort of the norm at the time I would say realistically.

Reporting someone for academic dishonesty is a deathblow to any kind of application to higher ed. This was an undergrad psych class I think? Anyone there trying to get into the PhD programs is in for a world of trouble now, that's a competitive place.

It's not that I think cheating is good, I just wonder if these students peers in this class/other schools who had better outcomes did things the right way, or maybe they just didn't have a professor who enjoys this so much that he will spend weeks writing R code to fully catch everything. That seems like an arbitrary way to have a dream end, I dunno.

Reply


@gmd63 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It makes me sad that so many engineers seem to think cheating is a just and or good solution. Cheating is objectively bad system design (for society, we're designing our society with daily actions every day), as it rewards people without integrity who want the easy way out. Sure, you can blame the system for encouraging incentives that reward cheating, and there are benefits to thinking like a cheater to identify gaps and problems in design, but we only have one life, and one go at growing the society we want to live in.

By cheating, you're voting for a society of scammers, and you think you deserve more than the honest student because you're willing to eat honor instead of preserving it and growing it for future generations.

Reply


@fumeux_fume 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Exams and cheating are just parts of the same problem. It's unfortunate that academia can't wrap its mind around this and design better learning experiences for students and teachers.

Reply


@sevvu 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

You know, an abundance of gifs does not add any substance to your article, only distracting the readers from its content, which is, may I add, so unnecessarily and pedantically detailed. What a redditor. Consider reducing your carbon footprint, and deleting all gifs from the article.

Reply


@hnarn 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Threads like these are always frustrating, because as usual people (programmers in this case) freely air their opinions on how schools are broken with phrases like “we need to fix the system”.

As someone who studied pedagogy for years and quit due to an immense frustration with exactly this — how broken the system is — I would encourage you to entertain the thought that maybe, you as a person who is almost in all cases not a teacher, nor someone with any experience apart from once having been a student, do not have a good understanding of how exactly this system should be fixed, and that it’s not broken for fun but because there are some very difficult unresolved issues.

People love to rant about how bad tests are. “We just study for the tests” and so on. And yet this complaint seems to be international. Curious, isn’t it, how all these systems seem to fail in the same way?

In the case of testing it’s because you choose to focus on the obviously bad thing (current state of testing) rather than the very complex and difficult question behind it: HOW do you measure knowledge? And when you decide how, how do you scale it?

These are very hard questions, and it’s frustrating to read the phrase “we need to fix the system” because yes, obviously we do, but agreeing that things are bad isn’t the hard part, and probably input from people who have never worked in the field is of pretty limited value in how to resolve the hard part, and will not do much more than annoy teachers even more.

So what’s the solution then? Well, maybe we should start by rolling back this common conception that when it comes to schools, everyone’s opinion matters an equal amount, and then listen to the teachers and academics.

Cynically, this will never happen because reforms to battle educational issues in any democratic society usually takes more than 5 election cycles to show obvious results (and when the bad results start stacking up current leaders will take the flak regardless).

Reply


@8note 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I remember the hard math-heavy university courses having homework questions that came down to copying down a solutions from somewhere, and having a score for it was there to make sure you wrote down those solutions over and over again.

Doing that properly burned those approaches into my mind and even though I wasn't coming up with those solutions myself, I did get the learning step

Reply


@riedel 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

For my excises I started to allow copy/cheating etc because students will cheat themselves. On the other hand I even did on site oral exams (20-40 per course, so it is still manageable) during the pandemic (using video terminals).

Particularly reading this, the whole enforcement of anticheating becomes a privacy nightmare. I do not want my students to learn that putting root kits on PCs is OK (for proctoring) or that archiving potentially private chat messages without consent (I am in Europe, so GDPR applies) is OK.

At the same time students have to learn how to use stackoverflow or copilot effectively. So I want to teach them that initial copying is OK if you fully understand the result and that often doing it yourself from scratch is better to achieve it.

I know we talking about slightly different things, but grading based on multiple choice seems to be at the core of the problem.

Reply


@irrational 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As someone who also teaches programming to college students, this is one of the most glorious things I’ve ever read.

Though, anyone know what “hes so Canadian” means? I assume it means he is Canadian, hence why he seems to be taking this so calmly and not flipping out, but I’m not sure.

Edit: I’m now reading the comments. The amount of people trying to justify lying and cheating is truly disheartening.

Reply


@honkler 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

huh. i am a proud cheater. the entire chain of command, from local bureacrat to the chief of fed, and all company execs are cheaters. so why not me? I'd be a fool if i didnt trick the system.

Reply


@mkl95 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

In my country these are the two main challenges students face:

- Storing and retrieving information (memorization). A process that is exhausting for the human brain but a database does effortlessly.

- Heavy computation, such as solving a difficult equation for a variable. Again something that is taxing for the human brain. A machine cannot always do it effortlessly but it will help in most cases.

Whenever I've observed cheating it's been because students had to solve problems in a human-unfriendly way, and education (lessons, problem sets) was subpar.

Honestly the industry is so different to school that it sometimes makes me think if higher education -as we understand it today- makes sense for people who don't want to become researchers.

Reply


@drnonsense42 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I’m guessing this was an introductory course? Every college stuffs kids into courses they have no interest in. Society pressures them into college in the first place. Most introductory courses, perhaps not this one but especially in liberal arts, involve not much beyond agreeing with the professor’s personal opinions presented as fact to get an A. And, well, people like to cheat to get ahead, mooch off the government, etc. Today is probably worse than other periods; generations in the US are on a steep downhill slope, and academia and educators in general seem increasingly deranged. Convincing others this is a solvable problem sounds like a great way to get money.

Reply


@alexb_ 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I think a lot of people here are missing the root cause of why students cheat.

College for the longest time has not had anything to do with learning for the VAST majority of students. You go to college because you have to have a degree to get a job. And you have to have a good GPA on that degree to get a job. College is not about actually learning anything - it's a purely monetary investment, where you go into debt totaling up to hundreds of thousands of dollars because you know that it will net you more money in the future. Not cheating is completely risking any hope of financial independence you can ever have for your entire life.

Given all of this, why wouldn't you cheat? You take an extremely minimal risk (most profs don't have any clue, or do not care about cheating at all) to avoid a much greater risk (you not getting good grades and potentially never getting any return on your lifelong 6 figure deep debt).

Reply


@lysium 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I find this f’d up at so many levels. The instructor seems to be more concerned about how to fill out forms to report a huge amount of her own class and come up with (surprising the student) countermeasures than about how to teach her students.

Such a huge amount of cheating is a clear indication that the whole system is flawed. This should have been the instructor’s top priority. Instead, she chose to fail her students. I was in pain while reading the article.

The moment she saw what she thinks was cheating, she should have confronted the students. And frankly: why shouldn’t the students help each other? Why did everybody have to learn in solitude?

She herself told the students that the midterm would consist of the same quiz questions. Of course you are trying to gather those along with the right answers.

Apparently, she was short on resources (no TA) and put the burden of that problem on the self regulation of her own students. I am ashamed that this calls itself academic teaching.

Reply


@acjohnson55 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

At Princeton, this would have led to year suspensions for all students involved. At least when I was there 15 years ago. I know numerous people who had to take a year off. Not saying this is right. It probably is too punitive and disruptive.

Reply


@secretsatan 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As i was reading this, i kinda thought, the teacher could have jumped in sooner? As they waited longer and longer, more students would see the cheaters getting away with it, it would be harder not to join in.

They’re chastising the students for not reporting it, but then, it seemed to take a while for the teacher to do it as well

Reply


@jimmyswimmy 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As an undergrad I was heavily involved in the student-led academic integrity organization. This story reads so true to my experiences (from the last millenium, mind you - there was no whatsapp, etc.). My largest cases came from the computer sciences departments. Students thought nothing of copying programs and submitting them as their own.

It turned out, of course, that structural similarities are so obvious. My worst case had 23 students accused of submitting the same program for a lower-level course. I held an event where all (or most) of them attended. Somehow they tried to explain how their use of not-just-similar-but-exactly-the-same variable names, structure and comments in a C or C++ (it's been a while) program. I mean, exactly the same. One spent an hour berating me on the phone (well before I figured out that I could just politely end the conversation and hang up) explaining that it was his work. It was not.

I was disappointed over and over seeing how blatantly and cavalierly my fellow students would break the rules. It was unpleasant for everyone involved, despite a reasonably lenient punishment process - students, faculty and us alike. I didn't like lording over my fellow students, but felt it was important to hold a line of sorts. I wish very much that there was no need for this function but time and again students turned in work that was not theirs. I strongly suspected at the time that most professors only turned in the most blatant open-and-shut cases. It was particularly sad considering how very much money each class cost.

Reply


@Fiahil 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Ah cheating ! I did a year abroad in California when I was studying computer science and I remember there was a huge difference between cheating there and cheating in my French school.

In the later, we were given harder exercises and asked to deliver a working program with some constraints. This program is then tested and graded by a CI and examined by TAs. Usually TAs would get a cheating report for reused bits of code and things that would solve an exercise with techniques far away from students knowledge or forbidden functions. TAs would ask you questions about your code and trigger cheating review if you could not explain why you wrote it this way. It was usually effective for detecting people that didn't wrote their own exercises. As the exercises were harder than expected for a class and projects were long and difficult, students were encouraged to talk, discuss and exchange ideas. Ideas sure, code meh.

Then, in the US, exercises were stupid checkboxes-style questions and graded on a curve. So of course everyone "cheated".. I must confess that I did it too. It was unworthy of my time and attention, as it was just about taking the course material and regurgitate it with different words. Of course, I can't imagine anyone learning anything from this way of working.

Stupid assignments encourage students to cheat. Make them interesting and this problem will go away.

Reply


@painchoc 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I am lucky to have found this Debian package https://tracker.debian.org/pkg/similarity-tester (source https://dickgrune.com/Programs/similarity_tester/ ) to help me detect plagiarism in my students's C++ code. The tool is perfect as it gives side by side comparison of codes to help see if there's a really an issue. Usually, it is easy to confirm by spotting specific constructions or even the positions of punctuation in code. I have found something for Python though.

Reply


@carls 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I recently took a CS class at Stanford with an interesting policy on cheating. While cheating almost certainly happened during the course, at the end of the quarter the course staff made a public post allowing any student who cheated to make a private message to the staff admitting they've done so.

If a student admitted to cheating, while they would face academic disciplinary action (i.e. receiving a failing or low grade), they would not be brought up to the administrative office that deals with issues of academic integrity, and therefore would not face consequences like expulsion or being on official academic probation.

However if a cheating student decided to risk it and not admit their guilt, they were at risk of a potentially even greater degree punishment. The course staff would run all students code through a piece of software to detect similarities between each other, as well as online solutions. Students who were flagged by this software would then have their code hand-checked by at least one course staff, who would make a judgement call as to whether it seemed like cheating.

I found this policy quite interesting. As a former high school teacher, I've certain encountered teaching in my own classes, and have historically oscillated between taking a very harsh stance, or perhaps an overly permissive one.

The one taken by the lecturers of this course offered a "second chance" to cheaters in a way I hadn't seen before.

Reply


@qumpis 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

In Germany (as far as I know), quizzes and homework are not graded, only some % of them needs to be completed in order for people to be admitted to an exam.

Having a similar system would work well there, if one can make exams (and midterms?) either physical or less susceptible to cheating.

Reply


@Aeolun 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I dunno, I never cheated, but I would never report other people for doing it either. It’s not my job to detect and report other people cheating, and getting dinged for not reporting people that cheated would make me hate you very quickly.

That said, I just don’t see the point in cheating. University isn’t that hard if you have some basic level of skill. You go to the classes, you read the stuff the assign you, do the assignments, and you should mostly be able to pass the course.

Cheating always seemed like a complete waste to me. I’d be paying a lot of money to learn nothing (aside from how to cheat better). If I’m going to be there anyway to get my degree, I might as well put in the work.

And then later you have these instances where it turns out that because you actually paid attention in school, you know more than people from top universities that (apparently) cheated their way to a degree.

Of course, they’re also 2 levels above you earning twice what you make. Because that’s the way these things work :/

Reply


@zerocrates 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

His positive story in the epilogue of the students in the next class not cheating is in all likelihood actually a story of the students simply being forced to develop slightly better cheating tradecraft.

The professor here talks about not wanting to enable the features that make it a worse experience to take the tests, but it's an unfortunate truth that there's just going to be cheating if you're giving assignments and assessments where it's easy to cheat.

Reply


@wly_cdgr 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The author has a responsibility to out the cheaters. It's unacceptably unfair to the students in his course who didn't cheat, and cheaters should be shamed publicly and have their career prospects severely damaged. I really don't give a shit what excuses or justifications someone might have had for cheating, if you had to run away from home sleep under the bridge and suck dick for wifi after your dad killed your mom or whatever. I literally do not give one flying fuck. Cheating is not acceptable or excusable, ever, period.

I'll go further and say that if you're not ready to out cheaters in your classes, you have no business teaching

Reply


@xhrpost 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> Who knew I could automate pdf text entry from R.

Interesting, wonder if this is easier than Lumin

Reply


@attilaberczik 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Wow, congrats author if you are reading this The epic case of a teacher who hunts down the cheaters and doesn't take revenge, instead does the right thing

Reply


@eimrine 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> If real life was about being monitored by proctoring software that spies on you at home and forces you to test under duress, it would be a sad real life.

Welcome to real life with all kinds of proprietary software.

Reply


@zenmaster10665 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I am surprised that harvesting quiz questions would be considered cheating?

Reply


@0xbadc0de5 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It's been 20 years since I had a student plagiarise my assignment and I still remember how mad it made me to be falsely accused of cheating.

This was before everything was automated - In our C++ course, we had weekly assignments that were done in the lab and we were expected to turn in a printout of the code (this will be important) along with a 3.5" disk with the source and executable. I never had any difficulty completing the assignments and would regularly help others debug their code. One day, a student I had helped previously asked if they could just have a copy of my code so they could compare it to theirs. I declined as kindly as I could and they left, slightly dejected, but not nothing that would have been an immediate red flag.

Remember those printouts? Well, it was not uncommon for one to complete the assignment, prepare their printout and deliverables, then find a bug or two during some last-minute debugging prior to submission. So into the recycle-bin goes the printout.

Well, turns out that this particular student had seen me drop a copy of my code into the bin and they proceeded to retrieve it and copy the code verbatim... bugs and all... And they then submitted it while I was still preparing my corrected submission.

I was later called into the professor's office for a meeting with her and the program coordinator and accused of plagiarising the other student's assignment. I denied it, of course. They gave a long speech on the seriousness of academic integrity and said that if I came clean, they would go easy. I explained there must have been some mistake - you got the wrong guy! But they were quite confident with their findings, which they proceeded to share with me. To say I was shocked when presented with the evidence would be the understatement of the century. I knew immediately what had happened and I knew I could prove my innocence. But I was still beyond pissed. I was pissed at the student who cheated me, and I was pissed at the prof and admin for falsely accusing me.

Fortunately for me, I still had a copy of the old printout in my binder as well as on my network drive - conveniently labelled "v.1.0". I was also able to produce my corrected "v.2.0" and explained exactly where the bugs were and how I fixed them. I then suggested they speak to the other student and ask them to explain how their code works and if they could identify the bugs.

After being confronted with this new evidence, the other student confessed - they had taken my printout from the recycle bin because they knew I always got full marks on the code. But I guess they had also assumed I always got it right on the first try.

The other student was offered the opportunity to drop the class and re-take it next semester rather than receive an F. However, it was later revealed that they had been pulling the same stunt in other programming classes as well. I don't know much about what happened after that but I didn't see them around next semester.

I didn't expect an apology from the student - although that would have been proper. But the fact that neither the professor nor the program coordinator apologised, or even admitted any mistake, never sat right with me.

This article was a great read. Prof seems like he did his best. Fuck cheaters.

Reply


@jl2718 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I taught two courses to undergrad CS students at Stanford. I think about half of students cheated on problem sets and tests. The answers were all way too uniform and done without correction.

In the first course, there was a student who definitely didn’t cheat and was objectively horrible at all tasks assigned, consuming a frustratingly large portion of my grading time. This student ended up with a massively impressive resume including all the best places, and became the founder of a billion dollar cryptocurrency.

In the second course, the worst student also clearly didn’t cheat, and sometimes I gave extra points for answers that were wrong but the only ones in the class that were invented rather than regurgitated. That student founded one of the most influential companies in modern computer science, and also a 10 billion-dollar cryptocurrency.

I’m not sure what the lesson is. I had honest and very good students that didn’t do much of note, but there were only two honest but awful students, and both had superlative success. Just for reference, I was honest and pushed hard to land somewhere in the low middle, and I’ve had my share of ups and downs, but definitely no competition for the lanterne rouges.

Reply


@Tabular-Iceberg 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The most disturbing thing of all is that they just let the threats of reprisals slide like that. They can do what they want about the cheaters, but the students making the threats should have faced immediate expulsion.

It's the worst kind of corruption, because all other forms of corruption hinges on everyone staying silent and playing along. Anyone who espouses the "snitches get stitches" attitude needs to be socially ostracized, because they are a menace wherever they go, whether in academia, industry or public office.

Reply


@sanderjd 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

How is this kind of "cheating" any different than study groups? When I was in school we would have small study groups where we would collaborate on figuring out homework answers. Maybe this was also cheating, but I don't think so; it was among the most enriching experiences in school and certainly a hell of a lot more like the working world than it would be to toil in solitary silence.

Reply


@nonrandomstring 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This thread, more than any I have read on Hacker News shows the greatest variation of opinion, and the least ability for us to have common agreement upon terms, normative behaviours, standards of judgement or goals. Sadly, education really is a mess. I think it reflects the schisms within wider society.

After 30 years in and out of "academia" I am exasperated and despondent at the state of affairs and what I consider the total bastardisation of the function of education.

The OP story of rampant, shameless cheating is all too familiar and is simply grist for the mill. It's something to which most professors have grown thick skins. This is the ordinary background against which we have to teach, day in, day out.

Despite being a optimist in so many areas of life I see little prospect of fixing this without extraordinary and radical changes in the governance, funding and mission of universities.

Reply


@YossarianFrPrez 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

*For a semester. The author fixed the problem during the next time the course was taught.

Reply


@StillBored 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Anyway, I don't see anything in the article about what the academic office said when he turned all those reports in. I'm really curious, these kinds of situations tend to make national news when some prof brings a large number of students up on academic honor code violations. (ex: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/08/20/least-100-nav...)

I'm firmly of the opinion that the negatives of group study out weight the positives and generally should be banned in college. Banging your head against a problem for hours at a time assures you understand all the wrong ways of getting the right answer. This means you have a far more detailed understanding, and there is always formal academic study/the prof/etc and the possibility of asking about difficulties in class.

And finally, group chat is small potato's, I'm fairly certain there is a fair bit of 3rd parties basically doing assignments/taking tests these days for students. Primary because I was "mentoring" a student in a subject and found myself in a situation that I had to extract myself from because it crossed a line of mine.

Reply


@Al-Khwarizmi 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

As a Spanish professor, it's interesting to read this because it highlights various cultural differences.

- Here, it is always assumed that many students (maybe 50%?) will cheat if they believe they can do so without being caught. When the pandemic hit and we moved to online testing, basic anti-cheat measures like shuffling the order of questions in a test or not allowing going back to previous questions were taken from the get go, it's considered obvious here that you need to do that (just like, in an on-site multiple-choice test, you have to either have several shuffled versions of the test, or enough distance between students that they can't see each other's test, or really good surveillance). It's shocking to me that this professor is surprised that cheating happened under these conditions.

- On the other hand, while cheating students are failed and/or otherwise penalized when caught, we would never penalize, or even scold, a student for not snitching. Snitching on your classmates is almost universally considered a bad thing to do here, and we would never demand that students do that, not only due to the fear of retaliation mentioned in the post, because... it's just not right, they're your classmates!

- When I myself was a student (also here in Spain), I had a professor who spent some time in an American university and used to talk enthusiastically about how in America they had a very strict academic integrity culture and cheating just didn't happen at all. No students would even think about it, because it would be a dishonor, they would be deeply ashamed if they got caught and no one would want to talk to them anymore, or something like that. While this professor was a good guy and I'm sure he really believed what he was saying, I never really believed it. Accounts like this confirm I was right. I think he probably saw there this attitude of not accepting as a given that cheating will just happen when possible, similarly to the post author, and confused his American colleagues' thoughts with reality. I often wonder how many professors in America live in this bubble where cheating does not exist if you don't see it, and whether it's just naiveté or hypocrisy.

Reply


@randusername 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I haven't seen anyone mention grade inflation yet, which I've always thought was deeply related to cheating. Obviously undergraduate GPA is a useful metric for aspiring academics, but I don't understand why everyone else is encouraged to care so much about it. I would rather our undergraduate institutions acknowledge that most students are busy learning a variety of lessons inside and outside the classroom and present those students with honorable paths to lesser commitment. Maybe systems split along mastery, competence, and familiarity (and failure). A world where it is perfectly normal for a future web dev to phone it in on a surface-level track for algorithms, but a future civil engineer is completing oral exams in statics to prove mastery.

Nobody _wants_ to cheat. Personally I really regret all the shenanigans I pulled in college to clear hurdles when I felt I had no other option. I wish I would have spoken more frankly with the professor and worked out some way to write some papers or do a project for an honest (and interesting!) C rather than keep killing myself gaming the problem sets for the B+ that was expected of me in classes I wasn't a good fit for.

Reply


@oldgradstudent 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This is a bizarre post. The author is disconnected from reality.

When cheating is easy, and especially if the grades are curved, non-cheaters are harshly punished.

The author intentionally created such an environment and is surprised cheating is going on.

The only possible solution I can see is that the majority of the grade is derived from non-online exams held under strict conditions:

* IDs are checked

* Randomized seating that is announced just before entering the class.

* Enforced distance between test takers.

* Outside proctors that have no sentiments towards the students.

* Even going to the bathrooms should be regulated.

* Smart devices are deposited during the exams.

* Swift harsh punishment to cheaters, and policy violaters (e.g. use of smartphone during exam)

* Constant vigilance in adapting to new methods of cheating.

Without all the above, non-cheaters are effectively punished.

Nothing is perfect, but such steps limit cheating and reduce the incentive for cheating.

Reply


@johnisgood 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Quite sad that nothing came out of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U.

Sir Ken Robinson has a lot to say about the education paradigm and why it should be changed, and in what ways. He appeared on TED[1][2], too, since then, and probably elsewhere as well.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

Reply


@imglorp 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Here's how another professor, Richard Quinn, dealt with widespread cheating in his class at UCF. He had noticed a bimodal distribution in the scores, uhoh! Never cheat in a class where the professor knows more about stats than you do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbzJTTDO9f4

Reply


@PheonixPharts 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> There were 100+ students in the class

> I was suffering technical difficulties while giving online lectures.

> It was extremely demoralizing to teach to a class that was blatantly cheating the entire time.

How demoralizing do you think it is to be paying a fair bit of money (or more likely taking on a fair bit of debt) to be just 1 of 100+ students in a poorly functioning online class?

To be clear, I'm not blaming the teacher here but the system has continually failed students. It's become a stupid game that you pay a lot to play because you have to. When I was younger I used to very anti-cheating, but I realized with time that was a foolish principle to hold on to. The game is rigged and there is no shame it taking short cuts. The university is trying to exploit you the student so why would you not return the favor and seek to exploit the system whenever you can?

Consider the counter position: what would an incredibly passionate, engaged and hardworking student get from this situation? This experience for that type of student is scarcely better than just teaching yourself from a text book and free online lectures (in fact, all of the material for this class is free online)... only you don't get a degree doing that.

My only critique of the teacher here is not having a enough empathy for these students and spending far more energy trying to catch cheaters than address the fact that these students have gotten a raw deal. Ignore the cheaters and spend those extra hours chatting one-on-one with the students that actually give a shit (if there are any left).

Reply


@kubav 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I do not want to defend cheating but I see 2 big issues which promotes this behavior.

1. Course was created to scale so cheating is super easy and harder to spot without side channel (common pool of multiple choice questions).

Author fixed this, which deserves huge thumbs up. Also making course more interesting is great and I would love if all teachers reflected this. Punishing students without changing course would probably did not solve anything.

2. Technical course students have zero clue about technology they use but they completely trust it.

It looks like they do not care about learning how thinks work. Probably they are there just for a degree. Imagine hiring someone like that, freshly from college, without experience and not willing to learn anything.

Reply


@Fomite 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

One of the most interesting things that comes out of Academia StackExchange when students are asking about what to do about academic dishonesty violations is how quickly they go to the "Cell Block Tango" defense.

"I didn't do it, but if I done it..."

Reply


@milkey_mouse 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

There are a couple reasons why I think it's important for cheating not to be widespread. I've seen The Case Against Education, signalling theory, and all the usual stuff along those lines (well, maybe it's only usual if you have a particularly contrarian friend who never stops talking about it) and while it's made me jaded about where The True Value Of A College Education lies, it didn't make me think "well, it's pointless, so I might as well cheat!"

There are sort of three groups at play here, although the boundaries are fuzzy. Some are truly there to learn, in which case there's not much motivation to cheat. Some are there to get a degree because of its implications in the job market, but don't cheat (for better or for worse). And some are there for the piece of paper and will do whatever it takes to get it. I don't fault these people: maybe they have to maintain a certain GPA for a visa or scholarship, or maybe they got COVID and an inflexible professor told them as of 2022 it's "policy" not to offer extensions "just" because of COVID. At least, I wouldn't fault cheaters were it not for the knock-on effects.

Part of me says the faster we dilute the value of a degree (by granting them to people who cheat their way through) the faster we get rid of the wasteful, cost-disease-ridden, elitist status quo for universities (at least in the US) as the amount of entropy afforded to a prospective employer by the presence of a degree drops to zero. But I also want all the work (and $$$) I have put into getting a degree to mean something. Every time someone cheats their way through a course and, despite their degree or GPA, is less competent on the job because of it, they marginally decrease the school's reputation: if the last person with those credentials wasn't actually that good, why would the next? I'm not sure how much this is happening yet, but I think it will increase in the future if cheating remains easy and common. Even discounting "degree seigniorage", if a professor grades on a curve, obviously students that don't cheat will be at a disadvantage. It's not really correct to say "cheaters don't affect you, just focus on your own work."

So why not have everyone cheat? First of all, some people actually want to learn something. Second of all, I think most people would like it less than I if universities and their degrees lost their cultural and economic cachet. Finally, I can't believe I have to say this, but cheating is inequitable: some are better at cheating than others. In the past (and probably still today, but what do I know) this was frats with banks of past assignments and tests. In the last few years, it goes as in the article: someone makes a group chat, though if they have an ounce of sense they won't post a link to it in a chat the professor is monitoring, at least if they intend to cheat through it. Invites spread organically from student to student or from DNS-like "hub" chats where people can ask for invites to any class's group chat. It would be really bad for cheaters if professors were on the "hub", able to join every class's group chat, so invites to the "hub" are guarded more zealously. Obviously they'd never be shared in a Zoom chat or other official platform, so online students (most of them, in 2020 and 2021) are left out. Offline, less socially connected people are less likely to get invited. Personally, even putting morals aside, I would not have been able to cheat if I wanted in the past few years. Cheating was everywhere, but I was anxious enough as it is actually doing the work; the added anxiety of cheating and maybe getting caught (especially in such a dramatic way as in this post!) would have been untenable. Maybe I should demand exam answer keys as a Section 504 accomodation...

Reply


@paulsku 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

First of all, I'mm sorry you had to endure something so emotionally straining.

Please consider the the students perspective. I, myself, went through academia with a one single goal - to obtain a piece of paper for future employment reasons, which I endured, with gritted teeth

I have no idea how it works on your country of residence, but I had a curriculum that consisted of about 20% of classes, of absolute irrelevancy to my primary field of study. I have no regrets cheating on those classes, just to get it over with.

I urge you to entertain the idea, that some students, unfortunately, were there not by choice, but merely "passing through".

Consider this a problem with the educational system itself, not students having a personal grudge with your subject or self.

Finally, no offense intended, but I urge you to reconsider your strong loyality to the (sprry, probably misquoting) "academic code of conduct" and filling out reports about your misbehaving students. Replacing idealism in favour of pragmatism might suit everyone's needs better :)

P.S. Sounds like yur students would gratly benefit form some education in the field of OPSEC :)

Reply


@WalterBright 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

If anyone still wonders why companies give leetcode interviews, this is why.

Reply


@dontbenebby 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I was assigned a class to shadow when I flirted with being an anthropologist.

(My now deceased PhD committee member griped that I "appropriate the ethnographic gaze" -- that's probably why I raise my eyebrows so much lately.)

The entire class was being lectured on plagarism. They were almost entirely internation students, almost entirely from a specific country, and they almosty entirely manage to misunderstand things only to their benefit.

(It was always an American, not someone from... there... I had to do things like go into my apartment and retreive a Louisville slugger because they were walking off with my neighbor's bike.

(I'm not required to call the police. I can deal with you and let YOU call, get a report number, and hope a detective or whatever decides it's worth the attention of the law. Fool around and find out that even full on cryptoanarchists[1] will step away from they keyboard if you piss them off enough, and if that makes you feel threatened, don't touch physical goods that don't belong to you unless you're willing to risk dying for them.)

[1] https://nakamotoinstitute.org/crypto-anarchist-manifesto/

Reply


@mcv 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

A great read, but there's one thing I think he could have done differently to prevent the cheating getting out of hand: as soon as he discovered the cheating, just remind all students about academic integrity, and that cheating will mean failure.

It's easy to believe you won't get caught if everybody does it and nobody is reminding you that it's wrong. It can give an impression of unaccountability. I think a simple reminder can put a lot of students straight. Not the hard-core cheaters who are determined to fail, but certainly the much larger group that will get swept up with the cheating if nobody steps in to remind them not to.

Reply


@WalterBright 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

In my day at Caltech, it operated on the honor system, meaning it was trivial to cheat and get away with it.

An interesting consequence of the honor system is since the students liked it, they hated cheaters. Any student who was cheating was well advised to not tell anyone about it. Wanna be ostracized? Brag about cheating.

I remember one Physics midterm which most of the class failed. Not what you'd expect if there was significant cheating.

Reply


@peter_retief 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I remember that cheating was considered very serious and anyone caught would be expelled.

Surely the reputation and integrity of the institution comes before the rights of a dishonest person.

Perhaps more effort should be in catching the cheats and removing them?

Reply


@frozencell 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This will only increase with AI.

Reply


@iandanforth 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This was handled very very poorly by the professor. Their first mistake was putting policy before education. It simply does not matter that students violated a school policy or that the school process required forms. If you cheat in Candyland you have to remember it's still Candyland, don't get so full of yourself that you think your academic bubble and its processes matter.

Secondly they delayed what really mattered, pointing out that students were putting in a lot of effort to accomplish something just as farcical as what the teacher was doing. Passing a course without learning anything. Because of the self importance off professors and institutions students are given the impression that grades matter. Then they do stuff like this.

Instead the Prof could have immediately said holy crap everyone I just realized I've been logged into chat all year, most of you have been cheating badly, and some of you are getting nothing from this course.

So now we're going to talk about online privacy, security hygiene, and time effort tradeoffs. My goal is for you to be less stupid and better informed when you leave this class.

Then they could go back and find the students who hadn't done any work (other than cheating) and drop them from the class.

FFS teach kids don't play games.

Reply


@iguana_lawyer 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It’s outrageous that students who logged into the chat but didn’t share answers were punished. What is a student supposed to do when literally everybody else is cheating? Take a C because the course is graded on the curve?

These chats exist in every course in every college course and the students who don’t join them either because they’re honest or don’t have the right friends have no chance of graduating with a decent GPA.

The problem is lazy professors and TAs creating assignments and quizzes that are easy to grade. Essays and papers are harder to grade than multiple choice quizzes but they also prevent students from cheating.

Do your damn job and cheating won’t be a problem.

Reply


@kstenerud 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Cheating is the natural result of an exclusive funnel for entry into the middle class.

This has been going on for decades in Asia (which is why Chinese students cheat so much), and now America is finally here as well.

Academics like to wax poetic about how students are "only cheating themselves" and "losing out on the educational opportunities", but the reality is much more mercenary and down-to-earth: Either you pass this hurdle by hook or by crook, or you spend the rest of your life flipping burgers. It's not a hard choice.

Once you have the piece of paper (regardless of how you got it), you're in the club. So the goal is to obtain that piece of paper by any means necessary.

Reply


@tamaharbor 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Just like college loan forgiveness, cheating just screws those who follow the rules.

Reply


@bgro 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Students are cheating on tests, yet technical interview tests are still the standard. How does memorizing a question so you can regurgitate it benefit anyone? I consider even that to be cheating.

You're not thinking through the problem like the interviewer implies and asked for. You're replaying inputs, like a bot programmed to beat a level in Mario.

If they're looking to hire a good Mario player, you're misrepresenting yourself with that technique. The pixel perfect glitch you nail on every screen has nothing to do with your actual ability when you get the role.

Reply


@tomerv 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I had to stop in the middle of the article due to all the annoying animations.

But something that stood out to me is this:

> For consequences, I came up with a three strikes and you are out rule.

and then

> I wasn’t ready to inform them about what was going on until I had processed all of the facts, so I just pressed on with the lectures. My goal was to have all of the forms filled out and emailed before the next midterm. I tried as hard as I could. But, I couldn’t get it done. I had to give the next midterm, and I knew that probably meant a bunch more cheating.

So basically, this professor know about "low-impact cheating" (cheating in quizzes, where "[t]he quizzes were low stakes"), but instead of saying anything just kept pushing forward.

I wonder if anyone even told those students up front in clear terms that sharing answers on the quizzes was not allowed. In school we're often told to co-operate in assignment. Where is the line between an assignment and a quiz?

Just letting the whole group slide gradually into cheating territory is a lose-lose strategy.

Reply


@john1633 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This was aggravating to read. The immaturity of these students is astounding. There are too many universities and too many university students.

Reply


@wolframhempel 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

It strikes me as odd that the very qualities that we value in engineers (efficiency, outside the box thinking, finding solutions that make the most of the constraints of existing systems) are the ones we detest in engineering students. This is even more true for jobs that are meant to exploit inefficiencies in existing systems, such as entrepreneurs.

Reply


@braingenious 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I feel so bad for whoever invited him into the chat. That must have been mortifying

Reply


@Simon_O_Rourke 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

My sister works with an institution that gives professional development and certification courses for financial institutions. Being the heavily regulated industry that it is, and that fact that in some places you can't sell mortgages unless your staff are certified, you can imagine the exams are scrutinized for any cheating.

Anyway, last month, some ditzy 20-something banker posted up on TikTok her scheme to cheat on the test, and referenced the institution. This got back to my sister and her colleagues before the exam, and when time came, the cheater was exposed, and ultimately sacked from what promised to be a lucrative career.

Probably more often than not cheaters prosper, but it does gladden the heart to see the odd one get their just desserts.

Reply


@yardstick 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I’m surprised at the number of people here justifying or supporting cheating.

It’s not a victimless crime.

Many university courses have minimum requirements to get into. Eg Engineering, Medicine, etc. Cheating to inflate your grades will result in people who didn’t cheat missing out on, or having less chance of, being accepted into their desired degree. Which they worked honestly for, without cheating.

Reply


@TrackerFF 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

From my own experience as a TA

Prestigious University A: More classes pr. semester, quizzes/homework every weekend. Cheating was rampant - and well known. It was aptly called "cooking", as in "cooking the books".

The classes usually had established lecturers, who'd done the same classes for YEARS, and often re-using the problem sets over and over again. Students would compile a compendium of these problem sets + answers, and hand them down to the next class.

I think the cheating was simply a result of the heavy workload. Students would have 4 problem sets to solve every weekend, and then lab work, project work, and what not. These were smart kids to begin with, as getting admitted to the Uni. was a feat in itself - but there's just so much time.

Regular University B: This Uni. followed a much more "traditional" sciences program. You'd get the syllabus on first or second lecture, the due dates to 1-3 assignments, and date for final exam. Sometimes it was only a home-exam + final exam. Also fewer, but more in-depth classes.

The assignments were much more involved, and each would probably take 2-4 weeks to finish. But cheating was much less common.

Reply


@raverbashing 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> Not everyone in the class cheated. But, everyone who cheated failed miserably. I guess the wisdom of the crowd doesn’t count for much when the crowd didn’t go to class or read the textbook.

That's so much "average college student" it hurts.

And all the quizzes were open book, etc.

> The best advice was a student telling everyone they could just go to the website for the textbook, then control-F in the textbook and search for words in the question to find the answers

That's cringe

Forget about the cheating, I'm angry they can't even cheat properly!

Reply


@RappingBoomer 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

in my differential equations class no one could understand the prof...most everyone cheated

Reply


@gnicholas 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

What would you tell your child to do if he/she were in this class, and were aware of the massive cheating happening in the chat?

Should the student report the cheating to the professor? Assuming there was a curve in the class, how do you deal with the "but everyone else is doing it" argument with regard to benefiting from the cheating (even passively, by seeing the questions/answers posted)?

I have wondered about similar issues involving ADHD meds, which seem widespread as well.

Reply


@hkon 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This has to be the longest blog post I have read in years. Quite enjoyable.

Reply


@thecleaner 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Okay, this guy is at CUNY, a good enough school. How dumb are these kids ? The professor is really going out of his way to make sure people engage with the material.

Reply


@usednet 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

The best class I ever took in uni had 3 examinations taken by all students simultaneously, with variations between each exam making cheating nearly impossible. There was no attendance taken, all course materials were posted online, and the only grading for the entire class was the exams. I showed up to 2 classes the entire semester yet still learned all of the material and obtained an A.

At least for certain STEM classes, I think this should be the norm.

Reply


@bjt2n3904 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This was a completely gripping read. The teacher sounds absolutely incredible, and I would undoubtedly take a class from them. The optional side quest assignments is an interesting strategy.

But at the same time... My goodness. Plagerizing the plagerism essay? That's so brazen, I'm not sure I could give a student a second chance after that. Like... You've got to learn a hard lesson at some point. The sooner the better.

Reply


@kubafu 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> If you punish a child for being naughty, and reward him for being good, he will do right merely for the sake of the reward; and when he goes out into the world and finds that goodness is not always rewarded, nor wickedness always punished, he will grow into a man who only thinks about how he may get on in the world, and does right or wrong according as he finds advantage to himself. — Immanuel Kant

Reply


@lizardactivist 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙



@throwaway156037 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I've studied at an online university. There were quizzes every week that were not graded; one or two graded ones during the course; one final graded quiz at the end of the course. 99% of all the questions were multiple-choice ones. Some questions from non-graded quizzes would appear in the graded ones. Then the questions from the graded quizzes during the course would appear on the final one. After taking the quiz, you could see the correct answer for each question. As I went through the course, I would add every single quiz question I encountered, the answers, and the correct answer into the database. Sometimes I would google questions I saw on the quiz and would find the list of the questions somebody else had posted. I would then verify the correctness of the answers against the course material and add them to my database as well.

I wrote a JavaScript that would get injected into the page with a quiz using the GreaseMonkey extension. It would go over the questions on the page, do a fuzzy search against my database that I compiled, and put the top 5 best matches next to each question. The library had its limitations, but it would take care of things like words being in a different order or a couple of words missing. I improved it by adding additional transformations to the question. Things like removing any non-letter characters but being careful to handle things like dashes and apostrophes in some cases; removal of the stopwords; stemming.

That would usually take care of about half of the questions. Sometimes, more than 90%. I would then spend the rest of the quiz time manually answering the remaining questions. Since this course was an open textbook, I would have one giant text file that would contain every single text that appeared during the course. It was allowed to look into any course material while taking the quiz. The end result of this is that I would get 98+% of the answers correct in almost every single course I took.

We also had written assignments which I always honestly completed while carefully following the citation rules. No clever tricks here.

I graduated with 10% in my university and was on the honors list. I never thought of what I did as cheating because I never collaborated with others. I never disclosed what I did and how I did it. I think that people who did those quizzes did them in a way that allowed me to do what I did.

Reply


@xpe 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I've read the entire article. The cheating was rampant. This part, however, jumped out at me:

> At my most mystified, I proceeded to release a class announcement warning students not to plagiarize the academic integrity assignment.

To cheat on the very assignment that is giving you a second chance is ... stupid and/or brazen and/or pitiful.

So, why warn the students again? This was their second chance, right?

I'm open to many reasonable definitions of justice, ethics, and fairness. However, at that point, given the context, reporting the offending students seems the most just thing to do.

Reply


@TulliusCicero 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

> A couple digressions. I have multi-dimensional empathy for my students. Is that a thing? It is. It means that I learn more from my students than they learn from me. There are more students than me, and they have so much more stuff going on than I do. Although I don’t condone cheating at all, I can recognize that students sometimes resort to cheating because of other life stuff going on. Plus, it was/is a global pandemic, with stress galore. So, we were all in a major life stuff happening moment.

> I was also weirdly empathizing with how hard it would be to cheat in my course. I was sad and angry about the cheating, but in terms of the process they would use to cheat, I knew it would be harder than normal and I could empathize with the difficulties they were experiencing.

> I don’t like cheating in my classes, and I respond to it when it happens. This was the first time when 75% of the class was cheating way beyond the pale for half a semester. My first inclination was to fail everybody. Aside from all the ways that I can be empathetic, there was a lot of evidence in the chat that students were blowing off the course and making a mockery of the whole thing. But, the brash language in the chat could also be covering up difficult issues students were facing in their lives that were preventing them from committing to their studies. Cheating isn’t an answer, but it happens. Just like how playdough goes through the extruder when you make pasta with the toys from fisher price. Metaphors.

> ...

> The point is I had no intention of zooming into class, failing 75% of my students, and calling them all a bunch of cheaters in the middle of a pandemic…even though a bunch of cheating happened and all that. And, no I’m not that soft. It’s just, I’m not the police. Education isn’t a form of punishment. I’m trying to get students to engage in my course. Failing them all isn’t a solution.

This person sounds like they have perhaps an excess of empathy.

This wasn't a case of people getting behind on one or two things and cheating to catch back up, in which case I could understand the leniency. It was 75% of the class trying to cheat their way through essentially the entire course.

That said, there's certainly worse qualities to have in a professor than the patience of a saint. Their alternative syllabus idea later on is neat, though to me it feels weird to respond to what's essentially a lack of effort with a massive effort of your own.

> The first category of student emails was the “I did it email”. There were also “I did it and I’m sorry I did it emails”. And, stuff in between, like not necessarily sorry. All of these emails contained students pleading with me not to ruin their GPA, or how they have never done any thing like this before, and they were really stressed out, and they would never do this again. Some of them seemed heartfelt.

Well, I'm sure they were very heartfelt about being sorry they got caught. How many do you think would have been feeling sorry if they'd gotten away with it scot free?

Reply


@w0mbat 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This professor seems very pleased with himself but I think he handled this in the worst way possible.

He should have said on the WhatsApp group, right at the beginning, "I am your professor,and I monitor this gc. You can use the gc to discuss the class and ethically help each other, but if you engage in exam and quiz cheating on here I will see it, and I will fail you. If you open or join a new secret gc to circumvent this, I will find it and I will fail you. Do the work.".

If they cheated after that, immediate ban. Cut them from the course. Stop wasting everyone's time.

Instead he got off on spying on them for months, buffing his ego with how good he was at using tools to measure the cheating, had to actually change the course and the final because he was letting the level of cheating get out of hand.

He's like a boss who gives you zero verbal feedback all year, maybe only positive feedback, then sticks you with a bad annual review, listing behavior that would have been easily corrected had it been mentioned.

Yes everybody knows they are not supposed to cheat, but he let cheating become the way things worked "in practice" for his class, and then punished them after wasting a lot of their time and money.

Reply


@mightybyte 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

"A couple digressions. I have multi-dimensional empathy for my students. Is that a thing? It is. It means that I learn more from my students than they learn from me. There are more students than me, and they have so much more stuff going on than I do. Although I don’t condone cheating at all, I can recognize that students sometimes resort to cheating because of other life stuff going on. Plus, it was/is a global pandemic, with stress galore. So, we were all in a major life stuff happening moment."

The world needs more people with multi-dimensional empathy.

Reply


@sreeramb93 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Use discord?

Reply


@rockzom 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

So you join the chat, say nothing for months, and then pull the rug out from under your students?

If a professor joined a group chat, without any corrections to what was being shared, "no news is good news" would be the assumption.

Trying to read this was embarrassing.

Reply


@dav_Oz 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

To stay engaged with a lot of interesting material I would have otherwise forgotten after college or at that time I didn't fully grasp, and because "teaching" actually teaches you the most (close second after "applying"/"creating"), I'm a private tutor as a sideline and as such get an honorabe mention by the OP:

>Or, students can hire people to do their assignments (cough, help them with their homework as a legit tutor).

I totally get his point about moral integrity from a bird's eye view: cheating, plagiarizing and any fraudulent behavior especially in a academic setting has immense destructive repercussions by affecting the credibility of whole fields and with it all the academic careers around it and must be stopped/discouraged at the outset. OPs perspective:

>Let’s start with me, I’ll be the category. I have prior experience with pre-pandemic academic integrity violations. There’s no time for a prequel. But let’s say I’ve been called an obsessive plagiarism detective. Plagiarism really irks me. It irks me so bad I wrote my own R package to detect plagiarism.

My radical approach to that was early on to stay clear of any form institutionalized teaching despite some lucrative job offerings.

Of course a lot of students contacting me are looking for a quick fix, outright asking me to solve their assignments or in some cases ready to pay me royally for just being available online on their exam. The amount of effort, thought and resources put into "cheating", "finding easy ways" ... is vastly and comically disproportionate to the simple tasks given to them. As an entry point to conversation, now, I really enjoy hearing those stories and every student has unique tales to offer.

Because I encourage my students to be brutally honest about their learning progression without fear of shame, judgment etc. in this light they get at least a chance to realize that ultimatley in the long run "cheating" is first and foremost a disservice to themselves and once it is internalized it is difficult to get rid of (paraphrasing: you yourself are the easiest person to fool). But instead of moralizing at this point (mea culpa ...) I actually offer them ways to transform and invest some of their habitual cheating impulse/energy into actual wit[0](deep entrenched into the culture). This part is tricky and highly dependent on their current level of understanding, attention span and motiviation. Basically I trick them into math tricks (i.e. "novel ways" to solving/reframing problems) finetuned to their response this ideally evolves to a ping-pong game, even if it is just say 5min out of 45min, we are now actually gaining momentum ;)

There is no way I could pull that off in front of a class of more than 5 people and I have to be picky because some really are highly resistant to open themselves up for learning and prefer to find "easier ways": memorizing, cheating ...

Given the circumstances, incentives, set up of the tests/exams and the teacher himself being able to be in the group, I mean with a bit of game-theoretical reasoning: the undertow of cheating is pretty irresistible. This makes up for a great story with second chances, human motivations and insights about our current state of affair regarding the educational system.

[0]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickster

Reply


@paulsutter 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Cheating matters little. The folks who cheat will spend their whole lives pursuing meaningless petty goals and will end up with average lives .

And that’s fine, maybe it’s all they want

Reply


@dzink 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Part of the problem is that higher education in the US is used to both give knowledge and rank students and the latter is very much NOT conducive to giving knowledge.

Society has demand for X trained software engineers as long as X is higher than the available number (X - Y), you have higher salaries which flashes a bright light drawing more people to Software Engineering. To fill that gap, the current educational system draws in the [talented with luck to have gotten the freedom to learn and play with code early] + [people who are talented at anything and pick SE for because of the lifestyle] + [the people who are in it for the money but not necessarily the inherent talent for it] + [the confused or misled who want to try things]. There is a massive missing pool of people who are talented or have the brain to be excellent in SE but never get to try it in an approachable way at with a good teacher or educational tool before they get pulled into something else. The truly talented SE people are often more interested in the Tech and less in teaching, and those who teach may not always have the love for the field an obsessed SE has. The Education system is a very brute tool - spray a little bit of many fields among many kids and see who catches on and then squeeze any love for the field out of them with as much pressure as possible to surface the gold nuggets of aptitude (talent) and attitude (persistence) who are the only ones sent on to train properly. If you want real outcomes, expose every child to a great Software Engineering program that is fun (maybe online, maybe via a textbook, maybe by video + a piece of software like scratch), then let them play consistently for their entire educational career without judgement but with rewards for talent and persistence (only upside, like computer games). Then start filtering only at the career level - when applying for jobs, or judging open source contributions after graduation. You would have a much broader pool of candidates and much higher quality at all levels.

Reply


@knolan 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

This gave some interesting insight into what a lot of my colleagues and I were thinking was going on as we rapidly transitioned to online delivery for our lectures. Certainly we’ve seen shared IPs and similar results within cohorts…

Traditionally we used closed book exams where mechanical engineering students have to solve series of problems. Stressful and encouraging of learning a lot by rote, these have never been liked any anyone. But they offer a level playing field for students in a perverse way. Many new students have not sat similar state exams either and were given estimated grades.

Many of us switched quickly to lecturing on Zoom and giving midterm exams via online quizzes with Brightspace or Blackboard VLEs. That meant open book exams where we have no ability to proctor (due to GDPR apparently).

The capability of setting up complex randomised exam questions was limited too. Brightspace only supported numerical questions based on simple algebraic expressions and would silently truncate an moderately long equation that previously passed checks.

The use of WhatsApp groups is extremely common in general by students and we all knew this would allow easy cheating on exams. So while we randomised question order and used random variables where possible, most academics felt preventing students from moving back and forward through questions was cruel and was typically avoided. Where it was used was vocally opposed by students.

As we look back at what worked and didn’t I think the consensus is that midterms will remain online and we will return to big exam hall finals.

This year I ran my online exam on campus. I booked a few sizeable rooms and split the students across them. It seemed to limit non-independent work.

Reply


@pasdechance 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I am a professor too. It has taken me about 15 years to realise that my job is not plagiarism hunting.

My institution has almost no ability to enforce plagiarism rules. Many of my colleagues plagiarise. When I do catch students cheating I have to be sure. I just submit a grade, usually 0, and then it is someone else's job to follow up.

The new generation is particularly sensitive and expects...exceptions. They roll up with parents and lawyers and parents who are lawyers and swing their...suitcases around. We end up giving a second chance or a third.

Luckily, I have only had one major case of plagiarism, the rest have been bad but easily dealt with.

Reply


@soared 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

I'm not really a fan of how the author handled the situation, but it is clear they care about their students and want them to learn. But when the second semester begins and the author silently joins the new groupchat... I feel like that is a lack of integrity.

Reply


@Heyso 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

In chinese, copying and learning are the same word.

Also, "cheating" may be viewed as "not re-inventing the wheel" (someone already made the proof for this theorem, just copy paste it from your smartphone), "not doing the same work twice" (your neigboor just solved the equation, why re-solve it ? ), and "using the fastest, most reliable solution" (your neigboor is better than you in Maths, just take his answers). This is similar to taking a library (ex : deep-equal) or framework (nextjs) or service (carrds, netlify) instead of doing it yourselves.

I agree that, the issue is mostly not the student but the school (and society):

1. Does the student really need to remember historical dates, or Maths equations, when nowadays he can just google them in 10sec ? (Aka : unnecessary use of memory)

2. Does the student really need to understand the notion by himselves ? For example, I don't know how to use quaternion myself, buy I know how to work with, in Unity. I also don't care about Pythagore theorem proof, I know it works, that's all I need (all Maths lover will condemn me).

The thing is that we believe that school focus on teaching. They don't. They are called schools, but behave a lot more like evaluation (grading) centers. And mostly evaluate (grade) memorization and servitude btw, not actual understanding.

To be clear, evaluation (grading) is what you in job interview and for pilot, to make sure he knows how to fly the plane.

Is evaluation a part of learning ? It is. But not the same type of evaluation.

"I am able to make a small game like ping pong from scratch ?" - evaluate yourselves, test your skills. If you have success, it means learning phase is completed. The main differences are that : - You do it for yourselves, not for someone or something else (employer, school, teacher, parents, certification organism). If you cheat, you have 0 gain out of it. Cheating in a pure learning environnement make no sense. If students cheat, it means your environnment contains more than just learning.

Testing yourselves, to know for yourselves, if you have got an understanding of a notion. Is part of learning.

Without grading, a test become just a way to confirm to yourselves your knowledge. This is part of learning, and cheating on that make no sense, because you fool only yourselves.

School mix both learning and grading, it shouldn't.

In chinese, copying and learning are the same word.

Also, "cheating" may be viewed as "not re-inventing the wheel" (someone already made the proof for this theorem, just copy paste it from your smartphone), "not doing the same work twice" (your neigboor just solved the equation, why re-solve it ? ), and "using the fastest, most reliable solution" (your neigboor is better than you in Maths, just take his answers). This is similar to taking a library (ex : deep-equal) or framework (nextjs) or service (carrds, netlify) instead of doing it yourselves.

I agree that, the issue is mostly not the student but the school (and society):

1. Does the student really need to remember historical dates, or Maths equations, when nowadays he can just google them in 10sec ? (Aka : unnecessary use of memory)

2. Does the student really need to understand the notion by himselves ? For example, I don't know how to use quaternion myself, buy I know how to work with, in Unity. I also don't care about Pythagore theorem proof, I know it works, that's all I need (all Maths lover will condemn me).

The thing is that we believe that school focus on teaching. They don't. They are called schools, but behave a lot more like evaluation (grading) centers. And mostly evaluate (grade) memorization and servitude btw, not actual understanding.

To be clear, evaluation (grading) is what you in job interview and for pilot, to make sure he knows how to fly the plane.

Is evaluation a part of learning ? It is. But not the same type of evaluation.

"I am able to make a small game like ping pong from scratch ?" - evaluate yourselves, test your skills. If you have success, it means learning phase is completed.

When evaluation is part of learning: - You do it for yourselves, not for someone or something else (employer, school, teacher, parents, certification organism). That is called intresic motivation (vs extrinsic). - There may be or not be grading, but only you care about grading.

The employer doesn't care about how you grade to the tests he send to you, what he care about is that you've got the skills he need. And grading is just a means for that.

Everything the school does should be a means for making someone a good person for the society, a happy person, a person that can contribute to the society (a phrasing more large than employable).

What I have seen in my scolarity, is students and teacher focused on "passing exams", "getting good grades". But completly forgetting exams and grading "means to".

In a pure teaching environnement, grades and exams only purpose is to give a learning status indication to the student.

In school (in France national education), they also serve to give you right/priority on school entrances. And serve as social status indicator (the dumbs and the smarts).

Cheating in a pure learning environnement make no sense. If students cheat, it means your environnment contains more than just learning.

When you create extrinsic motivation (carrot and stick), it override intrinsic motivation. And you end up with student doing the homework ONLY if it is graded (carrot) or if not doing it is punishable (stick). And not because it give them a learning opportunity.

Schools (I am still referring to France national education) believe that humans dislike learning. This is false. Babies loves learning. School is teaching us that learning should be hard and painful.

If you do teaching, you don't need a carrot or a stick, because authentic learning is fun by itselves !

(I don't want to make this text longer, but this make me question if schools are just doing big mistakes, or if they have been designed in a way that favour something else than learning (eq : have there been malicious intention ?)).

Reply


@johndhi 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Wow.

Kinda want to plagiarize this response to bring it full circle

Reply


@bencollier49 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Cheating doesn't seem to be punished any more in the UK because universities need the fees. I witnessed an egregious case of cheating in an MSc exam which was caught, and as far as I can tell, the perpetrator just had to resit.

One of the first year courses in an undergraduate degree ought to be in academic integrity.

Reply


@blindmute 1 month

Replying to @benjyhirsch 🎙

Am I the only one disturbed by how many students are texting in ebonics? I'm not sure when that began, but my millennial friends always use correct grammar and such in texts

Reply


About Us

site design / logo © 2022 Box Piper