<< An honest grade

By Fred Scarf, 17, Birmingham HS (Van Nuys)
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I also interviewed my biology teacher, Dr. Farris. I have a great amount of respect for him and was interested to hear his opinions on cheating.

L.A. Youth: “Well, cheating happens in every class,” was the response of a past teacher when I told him that people are cheating in his class. What is your opinion?
Before Dr. Farris responded, he was nearly speechless..
You need the students on your side and you need to make the learning environment fair. If a teacher allows students to cheat, it changes to mood the classroom. Also, that attitude encourages cheating.

L.A. Youth: What do you do to prevent cheating?
I give multiple forms of exam questions where answers are different. During a test, I patrol the classroom. If I am suspicious that a student will cheat, I will move them. Also when a student gets up to throw something away, I will watch them to make sure they do not glance at other student’s tests. If a student gets caught cheating, I will never write them a recommendation.

L.A. Youth: How do you suspect that a student is cheating?
Cheaters are very intelligent people. I get suspicious if they exhibit odd body language. I am also suspicious of a student cheating by the placement of their clothing, electronics, etc.
Dr. Farris gave me specifics, but I can’t give away his secrets☺

L.A. Youth: Why do you think students cheat?
There are several reasons. Students are usually under a lot of pressure to succeed and want good grades. Students sometimes want to stand out and receive attention from the teacher.

L.A. Youth: How do you think cheating affects the class?
If students cheat, I will see many high grades and believe that the class understood the material and won’t spend more time to review the material. If the class is on a curve, it may raise the curve for everyone else. It also lowers the value of the grades, especially in a vigorous class. Cheating also gives students the impression that the teacher doesn’t care. It lowers morale. Cheating also saps motivations of students who don’t cheat.

When I asked Dr. Farris “Can you give cheaters a reason not to cheat?” he gave me many reasons. But I felt the best reason was the rhetorical question that he asked prior to this question: Would you want someone who has cheated though medical school to be your doctor?