I found 8 students cheating in today's quiz despite stern warning and personal threatening to kick them out of the classroom if I notice cheating behavior again. 4 of them also likely cheated last time. The main reason is I left 5 minutes to fetch old quiz from last time.
I have reported this to the instructor and the two chairs of the department as well as sending the quiz sheets. I am very upset even though it "is not my fault". I have asked the professors explicitly that I do not to see these students in classroom again.
I work as a probability&statistics TA. During actual grading of the quiz papers submitted by students, I suspect some students are involved in cheating. The question is what I should do. I should note that my relationship with students is not the best judged from past experience.
The evidence that support my claim students were cheating in the quiz was follows:
During the quiz, I noticed students A, B, C, D, E, F, etc sitting very close to each other. I pulled their chairs apart and minutes later their chairs were close again. While I did not suspect cheating, I felt this is quite strange. In the end I have to pull their chairs apart three times. I also noticed they talking to each other, but I am not sure if they were borrowing the calculator or something. I simply did not suspect cheating.
During the actual grading I found the students A, B, C, D, E, F, etc all submitted work of very low quality and they made identical elementary mistakes like 1+1=3 on their exam sheets. This elementary mistake was carried through to the second part of the exam, such that a few of them did not bother to give any derivation to the wrong results in the test paper.
I have reported this to the professor, who avoided my email on any discussion with this topic. My questions are as follows:
- If I want to report cheating, how do I make sure students A, B, C, D, E, F, etc all cheated? Of course there is a small chance that they all made the "stupid mistake" due to some random misunderstanding. For example, maybe students E, F did not cheat; they simply misunderstood the problem or their Casio calculator malfunctioned. Who knows?
For example, when I was an undergraduate, I was wrongly accused for cheating, and I knew such accusations makes people psychologically very uncomfortable even if turned out false in the end. While I am quite confident with what I found, I do not want to be the mean professor who treated me that way. I checked the university honor code and it says "the instructor should communicate with the students regarding the nature of the charge and the evidence...". I simply do not know what to say in this case. Should I simply say "I am suspecting you of cheating behavior, please explain yourself", or something?
- More importantly, what I should do for the future to the class to prevent cheating? I put "cheating behavior means -10 points and an invitation to visit the Dean" in every exam sheet. But I could not prevent this situation from happening again in future. I felt very uncomfortable that I am preparing lecture for students who paid negative amount of input to the class material. To me a student walking out of the classroom and believe my lecture was tedious is okay; one do not need to take the class if one already knew the material.
But cheating behavior is far worse; it makes the normal Q&A process break down, and I simply do not know what feedback should I give to the students who cheated. It also makes life very unfair for students who made an huge effort but did not do as well as cheaters. I find it very difficult to prepare the lecture in the same mood again and pretend that this have not happened.
- In the extreme case, if the professor took no action at all, what should I do next? Should I waste many hours coming back and forth on this "trivial" issue and facing various committees, or should I simply turn a deaf ear on it because this is first time offense? To me, this seems a black and white situation. But I am still quite confused.