Nearly three-quarters of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today’s students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. His provocative new research indicates that students often cheat because their learning environments give them ample incentives to try—and that strategies which make cheating less worthwhile also improve student learning. Cheating Lessons is a practical guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots.
Drawing on an array of findings from cognitive theory, Lang analyzes the specific, often hidden features of course design and daily classroom practice that create opportunities for cheating. Courses that set the stakes of performance very high, that rely on single assessment mechanisms like multiple-choice tests, that have arbitrary grading criteria: these are the kinds of conditions that breed cheating. Lang seeks to empower teachers to create more effective learning environments that foster intrinsic motivation, promote mastery, and instill the sense of self-efficacy that students need for deep learning.
Although cheating is a persistent problem, the prognosis is not dire. The good news is that strategies which reduce cheating also improve student performance overall. Instructors who learn to curb academic dishonesty will have done more than solve a course management problem—they will have become better educators all around.
Much of this book (and arguably the best part of the book) is simply about good teaching. Lang just believes, as many do, that good (and creative) teaching makes students less likely to cheat… Lang should also be congratulated for admitting a hard truth: no matter how good a class or professor, some students are simply going to cheat. And nothing is going to be able to stop this… Lang gives anyone who teaches a lot to think about. Plus, all educators who are looking for ways to shake things up in their classes should enjoy the second section of the book and walk away with some new perspectives on teaching.
This lively book combines a review of key studies of cheating, inspiring examples of active student efforts to stop academic dishonesty, and useful guidelines for how faculty and institutions can respond when it does occur.
Practical and insightful… Whether tracking historical incidents of cheating to illustrate different factors, or discussing how university communities can talk to their students about academic dishonesty, Lang is an upbeat guide, effectively arguing that even small steps can help reduce the potential for cheating.
Lang’s book serves as an excellent introduction to principles of effective teaching—that is, teaching that leads to meaningful student learning. Happily, these principles also reduce student motivation to cheat, as Lang cogently argues. Faculty will find in Cheating Lessons many practical examples of ways they can implement these principles in their teaching.
Lang reminds educators that their primary focus should be on promoting learning, and not on preventing cheating. This helpful book provides accessible summaries of literature on academic cheating, its nature, causes, and prevalence—and illustrative examples of how successful instructors build their courses to encourage learning, and as a by-product, reduce cheating.
James Lang has written a smart, original, well-researched guide to ‘building better learning environments’ framed as a guide to avoiding academic dishonesty. Rigorously grounded in empirical studies, rich with illuminating examples, and engagingly written, Cheating Lessons promises to be an eye-opening and immensely useful book for post-secondary educators.
- 272 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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