Article Review of In Defense of Cheating by Donald A. Norman

3 pages
587 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Article review
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Donald A. Norman, in the article, In Defense of Cheating, presents the view that cheating in the school systems is affiliated with inadequate examinations and curricula. The view is that when the curricula and the examinations are made efficient, it becomes easier to handle cheating in schools. He, first, affirms that cheating is an inevitable issue in the lives of students whereby they copy assignments from others, purchase assignments and even their assignments being done by their parents or guardians. Furthermore, it is part of the lives of students whereby they stare at each other and fail t report incidents of cheating. The areas that he highlights in the analysis include cooperative versus individual work and mastery grading.

On cooperative versus individual work, he explains that schools tend to over-emphasize personal work. He presents the assumption that possibly schools are the only institutions where individual work is highly emphasized, and group work is mostly punished. He uses the examples of examinations where students are not expected to collaborate when doing exams or even to refer to books. From his perspective, students should be taught on how to work as teams with the analogy that some skills in the outside world are not taught to children when they are in school. Apart from working as teams, schools are expected to teach students on how to cite references, apply the internet in their studies, in addition to distinguishing between efficient and inefficient content. He views students to exhibit various abilities which can be applied to make their education efficient. He looks down on the issue of grading students and putting their performance according to rank. His view is to have a system that identifies the strengths and skills of students and to record them adequately. He explains that the idea is to have efficient characterization. He also explains that students feel the need for lying when they are in an environment where any form of cheating is punished. From his viewpoint, if copying was acceptable in the school environment whereby the source of information has to be indicated, and if the source and the copier of the information received a reward, the adequate behavior will be reinforced in addition to a decrease in deceit and an increase in cooperativeness in the classroom environment. From his view, the educational system might be changed such that it becomes relevant to the society, to equip students with adequate social skills, in addition to ending deceitful acts in schools.

On mastery grading, Norman explains that the current education system creates a competitive environment whereby a student either wins or loses. He prefers a grading system from an absolute standard system. He presents the notion that students vary in their level of achievements and have various strengths and weaknesses. Norman also explains that if the grading systems evaluated accomplishment levels and that the curriculum was put into sections affiliated with skills or knowledge, each student will have the opportunity of being mentored and that a section is viewed as complete when the student acquires the skill. In other words, only the term pass is used instead of using either pass or fail.

The general analogy is that changes in the examination and the curriculum are necessary for cheating to be eliminated in the school setting. The writer emphasizes the need for developing knowledge and skills in students rather than exposing them to absolute standards. His view is that the school curriculum should teach students on self-reliance, curiosity, knowledge on learning independently and cooperative skills.

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