Category: Urban Ed Written by Denise Pope, Ph.D, CNN
Editor’s note: Denise Pope, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education. She is co-founder of Challenge Success, a research and intervention project that provides schools and families the tools they need to raise healthy, motivated students. Her book, "Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students” (Yale University Press, 2001) was awarded Notable Book in Education by the American School Board Journal, 2001.
Students and faculty at Harvard note that the campus is “in shock” over the recent accusation that 125 students cheated on a final exam last spring. Parents at Stuyvesant High School are stunned to learn that 66 students were accused of using cell phones to cheat during an exam. But those of us who research student behaviors aren’t surprised by the latest cheating scandals. We hear stories like these all the time.
In fact, 97% of the high school students in our Challenge Success survey admitted to cheating at least once during the past year, and 75% admitted to cheating four or more times.
Many students point to examples of cheaters on Wall Street, in government, sports and show business, and tell us that the standards for honesty are different these days: “Everybody cheats.”
The problem is so prevalent and widespread that many parents and educators tend to throw up their hands in defeat. But we know something can be done about the rampant cheating in schools. We reviewed the research on cheating from the past 15 years and summarize our findings here to show you what really goes on inside the classroom and to help you find ways to increase honesty and integrity in your homes and schools:
Finding No. 1: The numbers are sobering, and the problem is indeed widespread. Several studies indicate that from 80% to 95% of high-school students admit to engaging in some form of cheating.
Finding No. 2: Kids still cheat in the old-fashioned ways that we saw when we were young – copying from another kid’s paper or sneaking in a cheat sheet on exam day, but kids are also cheating in new ways, often using technology to text answers to friends or download a paper from the Internet and turn it in as their own. For example, in an online survey with more than 1,000 teenage students, the Benenson Strategy Group (2009) found that 35% of teens who had cell phones reported using them to cheat at least once, and 52% reported that they had cheated by using the Internet.
Finding No. 3: High-achievers and low-achievers cheat. Don’t assume that this only goes on in the low level classes. Cheating happens in all levels and all grades from elementary to college, with the peak in high school.
Finding No. 4: Students often know that what they are doing is wrong. They justify their actions by saying that they just “didn’t have a choice – it’s cheat or be cheated.” They feel pressured to get good grades, they have too much work to do and too little time, and they know that the likelihood of getting caught is pretty low.
Finding No. 5: Cheating can often be predicted. Students cheat more when they believe that their teachers and parents care more about the grades than that learning is taking place. Students are also less likely to cheat when they believe their teachers are competent and that they care about them as individuals.
So where does this leave us? Can anything be done to turn this situation around?
Educators can take a number of steps to improve academic integrity in their schools. They can strive for schoolwide buy-in for integrity and honest academic practices, emphasize mastery and learning more than performance and grades, encourage multiple drafts and project-based learning where kids are less likely to cheat, and create a caring classroom climate.
Parents can play an important role as well. We urge parents to try the following:
Model integrity and maintain high standards for honesty: Discuss with your child the importance of integrity and that cheating will not be tolerated.
Watch how you talk about grades: Students tell us that they know that cheating is wrong, but they don’t want to let their parents down by bringing home a low grade. Instead of asking, “How did you do on the test?” – which emphasizes grades and performance – ask whether your child felt prepared for the exam, what is she most proud of, and what might she do differently next time.
Avoid external rewards for schoolwork: Some parents offer rewards such as money or privileges for students who complete their work and bring home good grades. This may reinforce the importance of grades without an emphasis on mastery and effort. Instead, try praising hard work and effort and help your child focus on intrinsic motivation - doing something to satisfy curiosity, find enjoyment and a feeling of pride after exerting effort.
Encourage positive school identity and belonging: Students who are more engaged in school and feel like they belong are less likely to cheat. Encourage your child to get involved with school activities, seek friends at school and get to know teachers and administrators.
Respond appropriately if your child is accused of cheating: If your child is accused of cheating, resist the immediate urge to take a side or lose your temper. Ask your child to explain his/her side of the story and schedule an appointment with the teacher and administrator or counselor at the school to hear their account. Seek consensus about what happened and how to handle it. Emphasize that you will not tolerate cheating, and try to brainstorm more positive coping strategies with your child. Throughout the process, remind your child that you love him/her no matter what, and use the incident as a teachable moment.
It's both easy and logical to blame societal issues for what appears to be an increase in academic dishonesty.
However, at Challenge Success, we have effectively worked with school communities to combat the acceptance of a "cheat to compete" environment. When parents and educators engage in meaningful conversations with their kids about the importance of academic honesty, and follow the suggestions above, they can help foster more ethical communities. For more information, visit challengesuccess.org to download our organization's newly released white paper on academic integrity.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Denise Pope.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 11:34
Category: Urban Ed Written by RYAN LYTLE,usnews
When Cedrick Alexander was reviewing the courses he needed in order to complete his journalism degree at the University of Alabama, he found that some classes that fit his schedule were only offered online.
"If I would have had the option, I would have probably gone with in-class options," says Alexander, who is in the process of finishing his degree. "The reason I took online courses was because they were the only ones available, [and] with time commitments, they worked for me."
Alexander notes that there were some benefits to taking classes online, beyond the flexibility. "Online classes make you more accountable for your learning, instead of relying on guidance or instruction," he says. "But I definitely appreciated the in-class experience more just because it allowed me to have more interaction with instructors and students."
According to a recent report from Eduventures, a higher education research and consulting firm, which surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 70, a majority of prospective students prefer the in-class experience compared to an online-only or majority-online course.
In fact, just 38 percent of respondents noted that they prefer online courses, which is up only 1 percent from 2006. But, whether it is due to the convenience of online courses or increased options for online classes, the report shows that while adults prefer in-class instruction, 28 percent of respondents are enrolled in an online course, up from 18 percent in 2006.
"The good news is that there is still a significant gap between preference and participation," the report's authors write. "The bad news is that the gap is shrinking, and cautions that unless online delivery develops a broader value proposition, long-term growth may prove elusive."
The fact that adult preferences for online courses have remained relatively stagnant between 2006 and 2012 may be due to the lack of information people have regarding the technological advancements in education, notes Coursera cofounder and Stanford University professor Andrew Ng.
"For a long time, online education has had a mixed reputation," Ng says. "A couple years ago, it was challenging to find high quality courses. Even today, many people do not know about the high quality offerings that are available to them."
For Arizona State University graduate student Megan Goodrich, online courses have been a prominent fixture in her academic career: She took nearly 20 online courses during high school and as an undergraduate at Florida State University.
"Online classes are more acceptable than they were a couple years ago," Goodrich says. "I had to self-teach myself through these courses, though. You're able to get ahead [in online courses] but I don't feel like I was learning. If you're going to school to learn, go to class and don't take it online."
Goodrich's assessment of online courses compared to in-class courses aligns with what the majority of respondents noted in the Eduventures study. According to the report, only 7 percent of adults view online delivery as superior to in-class delivery, up from 1 percent in 2006.
"Both ratios are low in absolute terms, and reiterate that to date online higher education fundamentally embodied convenience rather than broader value-add," the report's authors write, "but the improved ratio may be an encouraging sign that online sophistication is increasing."
Coursera's Ng says that many online courses already rival that of large classrooms and, in fact, a "website can be made to be much more interactive than a large lecture hall.
"For a 400 student course, the online experience is that every week, students watch two hours of video of me lecturing and then they do homework," he notes. "The live classroom turns out to be only slightly better. With a class of 400 students, there really isn't that much one-on-one interaction with students."
Although perceptions and preferences among adults lean heavily toward in-class instruction, Ng believes the growth of massive open online courses, provided by companies such as Coursea, edX, and Udacity, will change outlooks in the long term.
Coursera alone has 33 member schools, including Stanford, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, offering free online courses, and the company recently announced that it passed 1 million student enrollments. Having top-ranked universities offer courses through the online delivery model will ultimately have a strong influence on adults' perspectives on online education, Ng says.
"We all trust prestigious universities to have high standards," he notes. "From a student perspective, if you go online and take a class through Princeton, there's something reassuring that it's a Princeton course. When you put on a résumé that you took a course from a Princeton professor, that means something."
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:29
Category: Urban Ed Written by Huffington Post
As public anger over college costs continue, and legislators in some states get to work on their budgets, more colleges and universities are promising to freeze or cut tuition--in many cases, on the condition that they receive more taxpayer funding.
The latest schools and systems to dangle promises of lower charges follow a wave of campuses that have already announced them, including Arizona's public universities.
Concordia University, a private institution in St. Paul, Minnesota, said it would reduce its undergraduate tuition by one third beginning next fall, to $19,700, though financial aid will also be cut and the deal will not be extended to graduate students.
Texas Governor Rick Perry this week formally proposed a four-year tuition freeze for public-university students in that state as a way to increase the proportion of the population with degrees. The cost of attending public universities in Texas has increased 55 percent in the last 10 years, a Dallas Morning News analysis found.
Other governors and boards of trustees are also pushing for tuition freezes.
The Iowa Board of Regents has asked the presidents of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa to freeze tuition for next year. The universities' charges have nearly tripled since 2001, to just over $4,000.
In Montana, outgoing Governor Brian Schweitzer has announced that he will propose a tuition freeze in his final two-year budget. As in many other states, however, it would be contingent on the legislature increasing higher-education funding--in Montana's case, by $34 million, which would come from a $450 million budget surplus.
The University of Minnesota has also promised to freeze undergraduate tuition if the state increases funding by $91.6 million over the next two years. And the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees will freeze tuition next year if the legislature in that state restores $50 million in state aid it has proposed to cut.
These proposals follow earlier announcements by the University of California system to freeze undergraduate tuition on the condition that voters approve a tax increase next month to raise $8.5 billion for public education and other services.
Other institutions that have promised to keep costs where they are, or lower them, include the University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, and University of Maryland schools of law; the University of the South and University of Charleston; Temple, William Peace, Duquesne, Urbana, Franklin Pierce, and Oklahoma City universities; and Cabrini, Lincoln, Burlington, Ancilla, Tabor, Daytona State, Mount Holyoke, and Pacific Union colleges.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 15:31
Category: Urban Ed Written by RYAN LYTLE,usnews
For prospective college students, going through the admissions process without a parent or guardian can be intimidating. Students who have to juggle college applications and financial aid materials may feel alone, but this doesn't have to be the case, says Jonathan Burdick, dean of admission and financial aid at the University of Rochester.
"Studies show that about half of the students heading to college don't have as much parent help as they want," Burdick says. "Colleges are good at discerning when an applicant is self-managing, and they appreciate it. Your best possible strategy is to let the people at colleges know you're on your own … You'll get far more support from them than you can imagine."
Here are five tips students should keep in mind when going through the college process alone.
1. Be organized: Ivan Orozco faced a major obstacle as he started looking into colleges as a freshman in high school. His parents had emigrated from Mexico to the United States, Orozco notes, and a language barrier forced him to go through much of the college process alone.
The fact that he was spearheading most of his college search forced the Illinois native, now a junior at Bradley University, to stay organized and "own the process," he says.
"Right away, as soon as I got into high school, having a timeline really helped," Orozco notes. "The summer before senior year of high school, I already had a list of schools that I was going to apply to, along with all the information I needed to apply."
For students going through this process on their own, it's important that they simplify the experience, says Lisa Sohmer, director of college counseling at the independent Garden School in New York. "Be organized [and] try to absorb this process in small bites," she advises.
2. Start early: As a sophomore in high school, Lauryn Schack says that she began considering what she wanted in a college, and she was able to narrow her list of schools early in the process.
"It's never too early to start thinking about the type of school you're interested in," says Schack, an Oklahoma native who went through the college process without parental help.
Schack, now a junior at the University of Arkansas, notes that getting a head start on the college process gave her time to focus on the quality of her applications and financial aid materials.
"Sometimes when I was applying for scholarships, I wasn't sure if I was responding correctly to questions," she says. "A lot of times, I would consult my older sister about it, or I would try to find someone to proofread my applications."
3. Work with academic mentors: Tennessee native Veronica Batista, who recently graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas, says she took advantage of her high school's resources as she started considering schools on her own.
"My teachers were helping me along the way and there were counselors from my school who were helping me out with all my options," Batista says. "The counselors really did care–not just about my education, but about my interests, my family, and how they could empower me. They made a huge difference."
Guidance counselors and teachers can also be good resources to connect students and schools, notes Glenn Bozinski, director of admissions at Misericordia University in Pennsylvania.
"There are several teachers who reach out to me regularly on behalf of kids in similar situations," Bozinski says. "They care about these good kids making good choices, and direct them to a place where they can get answers."
4. Talk to colleges: Students who are confused or intimidated by the college admissions process should reach out to college officials, says Garden School's Sohmer.
"Any financial aid [or admissions] office at any college will answer questions," Sohmer acknowledges. "If a student contacts a financial aid office with questions, they are going to get them answered."
Prospective students need to overcome their fear of asking college officials "dumb questions," notes Misericordia's Bozinski. "Go to college officials and say, 'I'm in this alone; can you explain things to me?' More often than not, the person they speak to will jump to help," he says.
5. Visit schools: The college tour can be the best way for a student to decide whether a school is a good fit. Students who don't have the financial resources to make a campus visit should reach out to colleges to see if they provide options for free travel to campus, either by plane or bus, notes Sohmer.
For Bradley University junior Orozco, college visits helped him make his final decision.
"I visited my list of schools a lot," Orozco says. "It was easy to rule out a school once I visited."
Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 11:11
Category: Urban Ed Written by Janelle Harris, The Root
Clutch magazine's Janelle Harris admits that she never had any intention of going to a school that didn't remind her of A Different World.
Twenty-five years -- that's how long it's been since the first episode of A Different World aired on NBC. The Internet's been standardized, the skyscraper bang has been beaten into obscurity and stars have blazed across the fickle stage of celebrity and fizzled, remembered only through the randomness of reality shows and VH1's I Love the 90s. But after 25 years, A Different World is still relevant, not only because TV One so graciously continues to breathe life into its syndicated reruns, but because it was the only show to paint a realistic picture, for an entire generation of kids, of what life is like on a black campus. Many of them were the first in their families to even have a shot at going to college and some went on to serve their four years in the hallowed halls of higher education. I was one of them….
By the time my predominantly white high school years thankfully, finally, heaved their last few breaths, I was all set to enroll at Lincoln University, the first HBCU in the country and not completely unlike that fictional -- but very realistic -- Huxtable alma mater ...
That was the stuff they didn't show you on A Different World, but I'm thankful for it. I look at folks crumbling at life's little inconveniences and chuckle because I, like a lot of HBCU grads, have been fire baptized on the frontlines of the black college experience. It makes you both book and street smart, even if your closest street is a dirt road.
Read Janelle Harris' entire piece at Clutch magazine.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 September 2012 10:26
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