Explore Strategies - Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

My students cheat on assignments and exams.

Some students might cheat because they have poor study skills that prevent them from keeping up with the material.

While our students are academically very capable, many of them lack the meta-cognitive skills and study skills that are essential in college. These include time-management skills, knowing when they need outside help with the material, and estimating how much effort is required to master a skill or a concept. Students who lack these skills tend to procrastinate, overestimate their knowledge, or think they can start even a complex assignment the night before it is due. In addition, many of them have competing demands on their time, such as those coming from other courses, co-curricular activities, and jobs, and they are not skilled at managing all the demands on their time. Some students in these situations might feel desperate enough to consider cheating.

Strategies:

Refer students to Academic Development.

Require frequent, smaller assignments and tests.

Use classroom assessment techniques.

Include a “How to get help” section in your syllabus.

Discuss with students the workload of the course upfront.

Refer students to Academic Development

Academic Development is our support unit for students in academic distress. In addition to providing tutoring for specific courses, Academic Development helps students develop meta-cognitive and study skills in seminars focusing on time management, note-taking, reviewing for exams, textbook-reading and so on. Help on these topics is also available as paper brochures or online.

Require frequent, smaller assignments and tests.

This will help students with poor time management to not leave everything to the last minute. Explicitly talk about the value of doing things in increments and how it helps them assimilate the content. You can gradually remove this scaffolding and have them learn to take responsibility for their own pacing.

Use classroom assessment techniques.

Classroom assessment techniques are quick and informal methods for you to gather feedback on students’ ongoing comprehension and skill. Sharing the feedback with students helps them to monitor their progress and direct their studying and practice more effectively. For example, “The Muddiest Point” technique asks students to write briefly (in one minute on an index card) what is still unclear to them at the end of a class period. Usually this is done anonymously as a way of taking the pulse of the class, not to identify an individual’s problems. By responding to the feedback, you can help students identify the source of their confusions (e.g., a major principle vs. a specific detail) and tell them which ones need to be clarified during office hours.

Include a “How to get help” section in your syllabus.

Some instructors routinely use this strategy to help students be strategic about their difficulties and understand which ones can be resolved just by asking a peer and which ones are at a deep conceptual level and are best clarified by the instructor.

Discuss with students the workload of the course upfront.

Many students are naïve about how long homework will take and overload on courses. They are not aware of the equivalence between course units and hours of work per week (e.g., a 9-unit course meeting 3 hours per week in class will require 6 hours of work out of class per week, on the average). This will help students make informed decisions about how many courses and how much work to take on.

This site supplements our 1-on-1 teaching consultations.
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learning principles

  1. Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning. MORE>
  2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know. MORE>
  3. Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn. MORE>
  4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned. MORE>
  5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning. MORE>
  6. Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning. MORE>
  7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning. MORE>