"Why I Let My Students Cheat On Their Exam"


Fri, Apr 26th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the Zócalo Public Square website, professor of Behavioral Ecology class at UCLA Peter Nonancs argues that tests are "really just measures of how the Education Game is proceeding." As a result of this, the professor wanted to know what would happen "if I let the students write their own rules for the test-taking game? Allow them to do everything we would normally call cheating?". Some surprising results.

A week before the test, I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard?far harder than any that had established my rep as a hard prof. But as recompense, for this one time only, students could cheat. They could bring and use anything or anyone they liked, including animal behavior experts. (Richard Dawkins in town? Bring him!) They could surf the Web. They could talk to each other or call friends who’d taken the course before. They could offer me bribes. (I wouldn’t take them, but neither would I report it to the dean.) Only violations of state or federal criminal law such as kidnapping my dog, blackmail, or threats of violence were out of bounds.Gasps filled the room. The students sputtered. They fretted. This must be a joke. I couldn’t possibly mean it. What, they asked, is the catch?“None,” I replied. “You are UCLA students. The brightest of the bright. Let’s see what you can accomplish when you have no restrictions and the only thing that matters is getting the best answer possible.”



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