Category Archives: 2. Featured Articles

Helping Students Get It: Cheating Hurts Them

Unfortunately, cheating is alive and well in the college classroom, and it’s a disheartening reality for instructors. After all, cheating flies in the face of the knowledge and values college teachers want to impart to students about the world and business communication.

Of course, most of the responsibility for honesty lies with students. Nevertheless, instructors can use strategies to discourage this behavior, beginning with explaining the repercussions of cheating beyond the boilerplate message of “it’s wrong.” Students must understand why cheating is counterproductive and how it can be prevented.

To set students on the path to academic integrity, instructors can take several steps.

  1. Adding a no-tolerance policy on the syllabus. Spelling out the consequences of plagiarism or cheating on the syllabus drives home the seriousness with which an instructor views this behavior. Linking to the university’s academic integrity policy helps: Research shows that institutions with honor codes experience fewer instances of cheating and plagiarism. Likewise, talking about cheating and plagiarism at the beginning of the term and then revisiting the topic sporadically throughout the term keeps students on course.
  2. Confronting dishonesty. If students know a teacher will call them on their behavior, they are less likely to continue it. Informing the class about a cheating or plagiarism incident (without mentioning names) puts potential dishonest students on notice and tacitly rewards those who have been honest.
  3. Giving students explicit instructions about how to use research. Lessons on citing sources, summarizing, and paraphrasing teach students how to honor academic conventions and encourages buy-in by explaining that citing sources makes a document more credible and adds weight to any argument.
  4. Linking cheating to lapses in ethical behavior in the workplace. By tapping the news cycle for illustrations of ethical lapses, instructors show students the consequences of such behavior in the “real world.”
  5. Explaining that cheating is self-defeating. Plagiarizing and cheating hurt students in ways they probably never consider. Instructors who explain how dishonest behavior is not in students’ self-interest will help them help themselves.

College instructors will probably always have to deal with some dishonest student behavior. But open discussion, clear policy, and swift action can keep it to a minimum.

[Instructors: Download the handout How Cheating Cheats You below to share with your students.]

How Cheating Cheats You  

You do not master material being taught.If you have to cheat to pass a test or complete an assignment, you are not learning the information your instructor assumes you know. This can only lead to your falling further behind because much of what you learn in college is cumulative, i.e. it builds on previous knowledge.

You miss out on learning skills. Employers expect college graduates to possess certain skills such as critical thinking and the ability to write. If you are copying answers rather than learning answers, you do not absorb the skills taught in your classes. This lack of knowledge will lessen/affect/diminish your ability to impress future employers.

You set yourself on the wrong course. Your moral compass guides your actions in life, not just in the classroom. Once you cheat in college, you are on a slippery slope to behaving dishonestly with employers, colleagues, and institutions.

You lose integrity. Your values and ethics form your moral core. Ask how you want to define yourself.

You harm others.Think about how your dishonest actions affect others. Failing to do your share, contributing unreliable work, or using shady actions to attain goals reflects poorly on a whole team. Dishonesty skews fair competition in the classroom. The results of the class as a whole are distorted when some students take the easy way out while others put in the honest hard work needed to succeed fairly.

You fail to develop grit. Grit is one of the main characteristics that helps people get ahead. If you have to cheat to do well, you are taking the short-sighted path instead of doing the work you need to succeed. People who are successful in college and beyond know that hard work is the reason.

You lose a sense of pride.  The sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete a difficult task cannot be matched by the short-lived sense relief you have when you see you’ve passed a test or cheated your way to an acceptable grade.

You waste your costly education. You (and perhaps your parents) are underwriting an expensive education. Cheating undermines one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.

How Cheating Cheats You

 

Dear Students: Let’s Have a Great Semester!

Instructors: As you start the new academic year—hopefully refreshed after a summer of recharging—think about sending your new students an e-mail detailing what you will do to help them learn, and what they can do to help themselves. Below we share a template that you can adjust for style or content, or simply use as is.

Dear Students,

Welcome to my class! As we kick off this new academic year, I’m writing to tell you how much I’m looking forward to getting to know you all and to teaching you about business communication. I think you’ll find that the skills you take away from this course will make you not only more confident as you go into the workplace but also a more marketable employee.

However, I need your help to make this the best possible learning experience. Below are some strategies you can use to get the most out of our class.

Be present. Of course, I mean this literally—attend class regularly—but I also mean to tune in when you’re there. Listen, take notes, ask questions, and show you are thinking and understanding by nodding your head occasionally. I need to see more than a sea of blank faces to know whether I’m reaching you. When you’re checking your social media feeds instead of focusing on what I’m teaching, I become discouraged. I am here because I wholeheartedly believe that what I teach is relevant to your life. Help me by being engaged.

Join in.  I know you don’t want to hear me drone on throughout every class session, so chime in! Raise your hand and participate when you have something to say—and be sure you have something to say by coming to class prepared. Do your reading and any homework I assign. I promise you it’s designed to help reinforce core concepts I cover in class. Also understand that when you speak up, you energize me. I’m only human, and when I think no one is tuned in, it’s harder for me to be enthusiastic.

Attend office hours. I want to get to know you! Much of what I enjoy about teaching is learning about my students, but I cannot do that in the classroom. You’ll find I’m quite approachable and helpful outside of class—and I keep a basket of chocolate on my desk for anyone who comes to visit me! In the privacy of my office where I can ask you more personal questions about your major and goals, we can work together to make the most of the course and your education.

Help me learn your name. As hard as I try, it’s difficult remembering all my students’ names, so please help me. When you speak, remind me of your name. If I call on you and do not use your name, tell me then and there: “I’m Janelle, Professor.”

We’re in this together, students. Let’s make the most of it!

Regards,

Your Instructor

Enjoy Your Summer—Science Says It’s Okay

By the end of the academic year, most of us are counting the days until we can get a little R and R—and it’s no wonder, considering the intellectual, emotional, and physical demands of teaching. Between class prep, administrative duties, needy students, and relentless grading, summer can—and should—be a time to rest, relax, and recover, so that we can recommit to our jobs come fall.

Too often, however, we end up using our summers to catch up on research or writing. We meet with colleagues to compare notes and occasionally grouse when we should actually take vacation time much more seriously.

Science backs this up, and it all has to do with stress. Stress builds up over the course of the year and can be so toxic that it impedes the body’s ability to resist infection. It can even lead to poor digestion, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Sound familiar?

Multiple studies show that vacations ease stress by removing us from the people and environments that cause that stress. Getting away from it all breaks your usual pattern and allows you to rejuvenate yourself. Research indicates that vacationers come home with fewer headaches and backaches. Taking time off even appears to prevent heart disease, heart attacks, and death from a cardiac-related event. Better sleep is yet another result of vacations—because vacations change up our habits, they reset our sleeping patterns, so we sleep better when we return home.

Aside from physical reasons to stop and smell the roses, research shows that taking time off actually improves productivity back at work. Constant working at peak capacity (or close to it) ironically hinders us from doing our best work. The Boston Consulting group found that employees who vacationed were happier as well as more efficient workers than their counterparts who stayed home. Frequent vacationers tend to remain at their jobs longer, too, the researchers found.

One of the problems with vacations, however, is that they often become another source of stress. The following pointers can help your vacation do what it’s supposed to.

  1. Plan ahead. Research your destination so you can choose activities and reserve tickets.
  2. Know laws and regulations. Be aware of other countries’ laws and regulations. Learn your rights about airline-related issues, too.
  3. Enjoy yourself. Let go of guilt about leaving home and those who aren’t with you.
  4. Check e-mail…if you must. Many people feel stress about the pile-up of unanswered mail when they return home. If you’re one of them, check your e-mail when you’re away. It’s better than worrying about it.
  5. Try new activities. Challenges that take you out of your comfort zone will help you feel replenished.
  6. Plan for contingencies. Bring medications, sunscreen, extra glasses, and whatever you need to feel comfortable while away.

As teachers, we don’t work traditional hours. We can be responding to student e-mails at midnight on a Sunday or preparing a lesson at 6 a.m. for a 10 a.m. class. Summer is the time for us to take advantage of time away from the academy, so that we can return fresh and ready for the next batch of students.

So, happy summer!