Arizona State Professor: ‘I’m a recovering cheater’


March 10, 2011
by Suada Kolovic
Academic dishonestly has become a rampant problem in schools across the country but the focus is usually on students, not their teachers. Are educators truly exempt from cheating? Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, an associated professor at Arizona State University, had a personal quest in finding out how common cheating is among teachers. Why? She admits she’s cheated as a teacher.

Academic dishonestly has become a rampant problem in schools across the country but the focus is usually on students, not their teachers. Are educators truly exempt from cheating? Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, an associated professor at Arizona State University, had a personal quest in finding out how common cheating is among teachers. Why? She admits she’s cheated as a teacher.

Amrein-Beardsley and Arizona State colleagues David Berliner and Sharon Rideau created an online survey – “Cheating in the First, Second and Third Degree” – to measure what types of cheating take place and to what degree cheating occurs among Arizona teachers. With responses from more than 3,000 educators, the data revealed that while cheating is common, much of it was either unintentional or what many teachers don’t consider cheating, such as leaving up wall displays of multiplications tables during tests. According the USA Today article, Amrein-Beardsley said that as a teacher, she routinely took questions from old tests and made study guides by changing numbers and details from existing outlines...which technically is cheating. "I had no clue it was wrong. I thought I was doing great," she said. Most states have regulations in place that affirms teachers are never allowed to see test questions and that only retired or practice questions are supposed to be used to prepare students.

Now, does this seem like an overly critical analysis of what cheating means? Do you think a teacher is being academically dishonest if they create a new math problem with a new answer but use the same technique to solve it as an older problem? How do you define cheating? Let us know what you think.

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