UCLA Professor Lets Students Cheat To Learn

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This is a pretty interesting idea. How many of you think this is a good idea? How many of you don't?

As I distributed the tests, the students began to talk and write. All of this would normally be called cheating. But it was completely okay by me. Who in their right mind would condone and encourage cheating among UCLA juniors and seniors? Perhaps someone with the idea that concepts in animal behavior can be taught by making their students live those concepts.
 

Red Squirrel

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Awesome. This is how it SHOULD be. In the real world you are not locked in a room alone to try to solve a problem, you normally work with a team, and have access to the internet, books, company resources, etc.
 

TheBuzzer

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could work for some stuff however might not work in classes where the main focus is to build individual's problem solving skills.
 

Flyboat

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In some classes, I would have agreed like industrial art, physical education, and dancing, but not in math, grammar, and science.
 

kbrickley

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Very little of the real world work depends on a person's ability to recite things from memory or solve problems on a moments notice from scratch ... as others have noted, most is about working in teams and following problem solving processes (including documentation and communication) ... a test of this sort is much more aligned to the real world ;)
 

Nightrainsrt4

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Interesting read.

Being the guy everyone tried to leech off in college, I would have been the one who lead the group, then offered to bring the paper to the professor, and just as I handed it in crossed everyone's name off the page but mine and watched them scramble to get another answer in on time.

Falls right in line with Game Theory, and the rules.
 

Koolthulu

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Awesome. This is how it SHOULD be. In the real world you are not locked in a room alone to try to solve a problem, you normally work with a team, and have access to the internet, books, company resources, etc.

Yeah. I remember taking tests in my programming classes and thinking "When am I ever going to be in a job situation where I'm not allowed to ask questions or look something up?" After almost 20 years in the business, I can honestly say "Never."
 

sfsuphysics

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In this case something like this works perfectly, but if anything you could call this a research project rather than a test and in the end it's just points towards your grade. Plus it was a way to test a theory, who knows maybe the prof got to write a paper (more than internet article) on the subject. and he gets more street credit.

However being a teacher myself, I've done everything from allowing them a full page of notes to use, to giving them the questions of the test (twice as many questions, then choose half of them), and you would think they could do well if they had the questions before hand... it all depends upon the student, for the most part the ones I teach, nope. The problem I think is they're either a) overly confident "I get a page of notes to use why should I have to study" or b) they just suck at studying.

This is how it SHOULD be. In the real world you are not locked in a room alone to try to solve a problem, you normally work with a team, and have access to the internet, books, company resources, etc.
The concept of a test is to TEST you to see if you retain the knowledge that you're supposedly learned, not to see if you have good searching skills to see if you can come up with an answer. There are other opportunities for something like that.
 

spugnor

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In my opinion, teaching should be about learning HOW to learn. Rote learning of facts is necessary, but being able to derive the formula yourself through experimentation and scientific method is even more valuable. Problem solving skills are something that i see very little of today. Which is good for me, as i am paid to fix things other people can't. Not because i am better or smarter, i just know how to solve problems.

Problem solving is something that CAN be taught, but not with rote memorization of fatcs and formulas. The two best teachers i ever had, were match and physics teachers. The math teacher taught me WHY the rules worked, instead of just expecting me to memorize them (awesome guy, was fat as fuck and smoked like a chimney. Smelled bad too, but could that fucker TEACH!) And the physics teacher would not tell us a formula for something, we'd do an experiment and derive the formula from the experimental data. Both of those men helped make me into what i am today.
 

Spidey329

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I learned the most from my professors who were unorthodox and did things against the norm. Otherwise it's just another lecture where I memorize (not learn).
 

Wrecked Em

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How would a prospective employer know who was in the top of the graduating class, if all the students had the same grade?
 

nissanztt90

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My math and physics classes encouraged cheat sheets. But if you didnt understand it beforehand you werent going to teach yourself in the time you took the test anyway.
 

rudy

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Very little of the real world work depends on a person's ability to recite things from memory or solve problems on a moments notice from scratch ... as others have noted, most is about working in teams and following problem solving processes (including documentation and communication) ... a test of this sort is much more aligned to the real world ;)

Yes but the problem becomes how do you put together a team of people who are capable of individually doing their part to help the team? Well if almost everyone in the classes gets the same grade because they all collaborated on the test you have no way of knowing who was the brains behind the operation. This is exactly what plagues business in America today. Credit is not given to those who deserve it, how many times does a manager get promoted for passing and idea he took from an employee up. How many times does a loser who does very little get to just keep tagging along for the ride.

School is suppose to teach, AND test so we can differentiate those that actually bothered to learn.
 

Dekoth-E-

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There are some things that this can be good for..and some not so much. For those touting the group thing, what happens when no one in the group knows the answer because none of you could be bothered to actually learn it? FYI, the internet doesn't contain the answer to everything..sorry.
 

kbrickley

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Yes but the problem becomes how do you put together a team of people who are capable of individually doing their part to help the team? Well if almost everyone in the classes gets the same grade because they all collaborated on the test you have no way of knowing who was the brains behind the operation. This is exactly what plagues business in America today. Credit is not given to those who deserve it, how many times does a manager get promoted for passing and idea he took from an employee up. How many times does a loser who does very little get to just keep tagging along for the ride.

School is suppose to teach, AND test so we can differentiate those that actually bothered to learn.

That's why they have the six project phases :)

6798868424_692a56fb86_z.jpg
 

Nicterys

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My math and physics classes encouraged cheat sheets. But if you didnt understand it beforehand you werent going to teach yourself in the time you took the test anyway.
My physics professors did the same thing; their reasoning was that if students didn't use cheat sheets, we'd program the formulas in our calculators and cheat sheets weren't going to teach us the conceptual part of physics.
 

nissanztt90

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My physics professors did the same thing; their reasoning was that if students didn't use cheat sheets, we'd program the formulas in our calculators and cheat sheets weren't going to teach us the conceptual part of physics.

Smart enough to write a program using the equation but not smart enough to use it. I am speechless. You sure they werent joking?
 
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In this case something like this works perfectly, but if anything you could call this a research project rather than a test and in the end it's just points towards your grade. Plus it was a way to test a theory, who knows maybe the prof got to write a paper (more than internet article) on the subject. and he gets more street credit.

However being a teacher myself, I've done everything from allowing them a full page of notes to use, to giving them the questions of the test (twice as many questions, then choose half of them), and you would think they could do well if they had the questions before hand... it all depends upon the student, for the most part the ones I teach, nope. The problem I think is they're either a) overly confident "I get a page of notes to use why should I have to study" or b) they just suck at studying.


The concept of a test is to TEST you to see if you retain the knowledge that you're supposedly learned, not to see if you have good searching skills to see if you can come up with an answer. There are other opportunities for something like that.

Hello sir! Do you happen to be a physics teacher in RI?
 

sfsuphysics

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Hello sir! Do you happen to be a physics teacher in RI?
No I do not, wrong coast :D

Oh another thing I love to do, is I do a quasi-curve of test grades, where I simply make whomever got the most points as 100% then treat others accordingly. Although I did warn the class that if there was some concentrated effort to purposefully do bad to let everyone gets As that someone is bound to screw with the group and toss it all out the window :D

Things like formulas and constants are something that you shouldn't have to remember. How to use formulas is where the magic happens, and it amazes me how many students are simply content with plugging any old number they see into an equation just because they think it'll work that way.
 

Serpent

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There's 2 sides to it. While it's true you don't have to be stuck all alone in every situation to solve it yourself with no contact. But it is to test of your ability to do something. Not your ability to look for answers in others. If everyone looked for answers in others, and no one has the skills to do it themselves, it's gonna be a long road towards the answer.

Then again, in the same vein, group thinking is also an efficient way to find an answer no one knows.
 

kittmaster

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I'm a electronics design engineer, does anyone really think that its ok to continually ask my peers to help me get through problems? So it's ok if I have to continually look up how Hfe in a transistor works or current gain calculations operate based oncoming input voltage? Or basic op amp gain structures for assembling op amp designs.. (and that is 3rd term associate level shit)? If anyone comes back with a yes, then your completely clueless.

How bout your ER doc....you want someone working on you in an emergency who has to ask someone else if "this is the right way to do it"......? I think not.

Testing and learning is designed to make sure you retain the knowledge that others will be paying for and depending upon you for.....including possibly saving your life......yeah....I want cheaters to be in that position............NOT!

Allowing students to "cheat" or use peer communication to "learn" a topic does a complete disservice to the students future.

:rolleyes:
 

cj3waker

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this would make way more sense if school was about learning and not grades and certificates
 

rudy

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In this case something like this works perfectly, but if anything you could call this a research project rather than a test and in the end it's just points towards your grade. Plus it was a way to test a theory, who knows maybe the prof got to write a paper (more than internet article) on the subject. and he gets more street credit.

However being a teacher myself, I've done everything from allowing them a full page of notes to use, to giving them the questions of the test (twice as many questions, then choose half of them), and you would think they could do well if they had the questions before hand... it all depends upon the student, for the most part the ones I teach, nope. The problem I think is they're either a) overly confident "I get a page of notes to use why should I have to study" or b) they just suck at studying.


The concept of a test is to TEST you to see if you retain the knowledge that you're supposedly learned, not to see if you have good searching skills to see if you can come up with an answer. There are other opportunities for something like that.

I think what you are seeing is none of the above. Most students simply do NOTHING and that's the problem with this model the ones who do nothing will actually get away with it this time. You might classify that under sucking at studying. But I don't think its the same. And that's what we really want to know, who bothered to start studying at all. And I don't think they do nothing because they are over confident they just procrastinate, watch TV, facebook, whatever and then they try to cram the night before and it doesn't work. Nothing will ever fix this behavior except failing them.
 

rudy

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Also for the record at high levels of education such as phd classes I see a lot of take home exams where the teacher says its fine to collaborate so long as they don't see copying. What tends to happen is that the good students go to 1 collaboration, realize the bad students are there to get the answers and have not yet done anything and they leave and do not collaborate anymore. In that case it sorta works lol.
 

Wierdo

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Reminds me of a professor I took an engineering class under, he used to buy a cart full of coffee and donuts out of his pocket, place them at a big table in the test room, then hand out a thick test sheet containing a handful of complex questions that take a couple hours to solve each one, like dissecting the design of a metro system etc.

The exam was completely open book, and we were given around four hours to complete it. I'm not talking a midterm or final exam here, just a monthly "quiz" that's half an hour long in most courses.

If you didn't know the topic then no amount of fumbling through textbooks and diagrams would help you, but if you just needed to confirm a minor detail or double check on a formula etc, then you just grab a donut and read a paragraph or two before going back to problem solving.

No one was able to answer more than two or three of the half dozen problems presented of course, but that was fine, the final answer wasn't a big factor, the professor actually went through the scratch sheets and graded the actual "problem solving" methods. Was one of the most difficult but enjoyable learning experiences I ever had in college.

I guess this sorta takes the idea to the next level, cool. I think it would make sense in allot of fields, ones that require critical thinking rather than memorization especially.
 

Nicterys

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I think what you are seeing is none of the above. Most students simply do NOTHING and that's the problem with this model the ones who do nothing will actually get away with it this time.
The primary goal of higher education is to gain a skill(any econ professor will tell you it's the only thing worth giving up an income for); it's better to get a C and gain a skill rather than an A and forgetting everything about the course a week after the final exam. While someone who got an A getting away with a classmate doing the work can get into the door at a job, it won't take long for an employer with common sense to realize their lack of work ethic and/or skill in the given profession before replacing them.
 

schoenda

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Like open book tests. If you know where to find the answer, that's good enough.

Except, taking this to the extreme, nothing new or creative ever gets developed this way...on the other hand, what this guy did is simply a group dynamic exercise. This was clearly not cheating as the prof. designed the rules and the students played by them...besides this was hardly the only grade they earned in the class, I bet most of that was based on more traditional examination. Good job, good article, clearly valuable experience for the students, nothing new.
 

Hornet

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There isn't any perfect fool prove method that works in all circumstances. This method however, has the advantage of allowing the student to experience something that is closer to what they would when they are out there working in the industry.

How beneficial it can be, that is ultimately up to the student. If a student chose to copy the answers from others without doing anything, that is their loss.
 

westrock2000

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I'm a electronics design engineer, does anyone really think that its ok to continually ask my peers to help me get through problems? So it's ok if I have to continually look up how Hfe in a transistor works or current gain calculations operate based oncoming input voltage? Or basic op amp gain structures for assembling op amp designs.. (and that is 3rd term associate level shit)? If anyone comes back with a yes, then your completely clueless.

Continually or when it is new content to you? Do you not ever reference concepts that are new to you?
 

FearTheCow

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I have a teacher (non-professor, works in field and only teaches one class) who has done take home and group tests. He manages to word the questions in such a way that you have to understand the material in order to get the right answer.
 

melteye

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Eh. I see exams as testing me on what I know and telling me what I need to go back and cover better... relying on others for answers isn't going to help you learn and most classes have discussion/lab sections (at least mine did) where you have a chance to work with others to learn...

If you thought of exams differently perhaps you were just memorizing shit for tests and not doing what you should be: taking advantage of access to professors/material/the library... also, in the jobs I've had asking too many questions makes you look like an idiot and really annoys the P.I.'s so this group work analogy doesn't always apply.
 

Ducman69

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Awesome. This is how it SHOULD be. In the real world you are not locked in a room alone to try to solve a problem, you normally work with a team, and have access to the internet, books, company resources, etc.
In the real world, you are hired and fired based on your individual contribution to the team.

The only way to test your competence as an individual to see if YOU know your shit, rather than just being paired with someone else that knows theirs, is to test you individually.

This isn't rocket science. An illiterate hot chick could pass a statics and dynamics test if she "works" with another student that gives her all the answers as she is rubbing his crotch under the table. She might get her engineering degree that way, but in the real world her job opportunities would be limited to secretary and hooker.
 
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well to be honest if you don't study you don't learn. I have seen a lot of people who couldn't remember stuff even when they had the information in front of them. some people just don't learn they memorize which can be forgotten because it isn't a fact in their mind.
I study which isn't the same as reading because I grapple with understanding to learn.
 

Sworkhard

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In the real world, you are hired and fired based on your individual contribution to the team.

The only way to test your competence as an individual to see if YOU know your shit, rather than just being paired with someone else that knows theirs, is to test you individually.

This isn't rocket science. An illiterate hot chick could pass a statics and dynamics test if she "works" with another student that gives her all the answers as she is rubbing his crotch under the table. She might get her engineering degree that way, but in the real world her job opportunities would be limited to secretary and hooker.

Very true, however, this 'test' seems to be more of a project with a very short duration than a test, and if your an active participant and contributor in the group discussions, it's one of the most effective ways to understand what your learning which will benefit your grades when you write your individual exam. I think it's important that we don't confuse individual learning with individual testing. In my experience, one of the best ways to learn is through a challenging group project, vs a less challenging individual project. In the best courses I took the projects were almost all group work, but assignments and tests were individual, and the projects, assignments, and tests, all covered the same generic concepts(although focusing on different aspects of these concepts (projects involved implementation, assignments the details, and the tests tried to determine understanding)
 

FearTheCow

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In the real world, you are hired and fired based on your individual contribution to the team.

The only way to test your competence as an individual to see if YOU know your shit, rather than just being paired with someone else that knows theirs, is to test you individually.

This isn't rocket science. An illiterate hot chick could pass a statics and dynamics test if she "works" with another student that gives her all the answers as she is rubbing his crotch under the table. She might get her engineering degree that way, but in the real world her job opportunities would be limited to secretary and hooker.

You assume every answer is being shared or talked about. In the class I am taking when we do group tests we always end up doing the test then asking each other about the ones we aren't 100% sure about.

I am willing to bet your "gotta do it myself with no help" attitude is the reason a lot of fuck ups happen.
 

Adelante

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Interesting idea and obviously one that gets tried in various forms a bit. I have to agree on the collaborative parts, both the positive (when you do things in 'real life', there's a manual) and the negative (this jackal did nothing but copy and didn't learn the underlying concepts) but I guess I'm kind of an oddball given that I work in the *gasp* humanities.

Of course, you'd like to think that everyone you work with actually has the skills that the little piece of paper (i.e. diploma) says they do, but there are exceptions to the rule and the rule is that you always get stuck with the exception. ;)

Anyhow, I like the idea - communicating the idea with others actually reinforces the idea in your brain because you are forced to process it in order to re-communicate it in a way that makes sense to another person. To that end, I like the format that my grad professors introduced: each student read, reviewed and distributed their review to each other student for different books/monographs one week and all individually reviewed selected books on the alternate week. In so doing, you get the big monographs firmly in hand and a peer-generated summary/review of the others, giving you a pretty solid research guide for comprehensives.
 

BoogerBomb

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I'm a electronics design engineer, does anyone really think that its ok to continually ask my peers to help me get through problems? So it's ok if I have to continually look up how Hfe in a transistor works or current gain calculations operate based oncoming input voltage? Or basic op amp gain structures for assembling op amp designs.. (and that is 3rd term associate level shit)? If anyone comes back with a yes, then your completely clueless.

How bout your ER doc....you want someone working on you in an emergency who has to ask someone else if "this is the right way to do it"......? I think not.

Testing and learning is designed to make sure you retain the knowledge that others will be paying for and depending upon you for.....including possibly saving your life......yeah....I want cheaters to be in that position............NOT!

Allowing students to "cheat" or use peer communication to "learn" a topic does a complete disservice to the students future.

:rolleyes:

Memorization is not learning. All a test will do is test your capacity to memorize facts.
 
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