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Students are more likely to cheat when they feel anonymous in class.
Students are not just intellectual beings. We have to consider them holistically and realize that the classroom is a social context and that social relationships shape behavior. Students feel anonymous when they don’t have a relationship with the instructor or any of the TAs. This experience is prevalent in large classes, but not necessarily confined to them. The kind of relationship that is most beneficial to students is not that of “buddies,” but a friendly professional relationship that has at its core the learning experience of the student. Students who experience being valued individually in class are less likely to cheat, in part because the social and emotional costs are high in this case. Students don’t want to let their instructor down, and they don’t want to experience the emotions of embarrassment, guilt, and shame that go along with that. Conversely, students who experience anonymity in the classroom are not subject to these social and emotional costs and consequently are more likely to cheat.
If memorizing all the names is not easy for you, try with the aid of a seating chart or the photo roster that you can request from the Hub or even Facebook. Associating names with faces, or even with students’ interests as in Facebook, creates multiple avenues for learning and retrieval. Have your TAs also memorize names of the students in their sections or recitations. There are several strategies to help with memorizing names. For example, concentrate on memorizing the names of a group of students every week and then move to the next group. At the very least, communicate to the students that you are putting effort into knowing who they are.
If time allows, arrive early to class and use that time to greet and talk to the students as they arrive. Make small talk, or ask how the homework was. This will create a comfortable atmosphere, and if the students are comfortable with you they will be more likely to seek help when they need it, which will also reduce cheating.
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