Magnet to hold ethics presentation Thursday

Oct. 2, 2007, midnight | By Pia Nargundkar | 12 years, 9 months ago

Staff and students will discuss results of survey on academic dishonesty

During the advisory period on Thursday, the Magnet will hold an ethics presentation in the auditorium to discuss the issue of academic dishonesty, according to Magnet Coordinator Dennis Heidler. Magnet math teacher David Stein and counselor Jennifer Taylor will present the results of a survey distributed to magnet students at the end of last school year.

The survey asked students to identify anonymously how frequently and why they engaged in academically dishonest behavior, and the results showed some troubling statistics. "We found that students admitted to a lot of cheating, in lots of different forms, and that the prevalence isn't the same for all types of cheating," Stein said. "There were different excuses given by students to justify their actions, and different patterns among the age groups."

Stein does not think the results are unique to magnet. "Magnet students don't cheat more than other students," he said. "It's just that we are trying to diagnose and address this universal problem." Taylor concurred, saying, "You could run [this project] anywhere and find similar results."

The survey project was designed after the magnet staff discerned that there might be a problem with academic dishonesty, according to Stein. "We really wanted to find out where the problem was so we can do something about it," he said.

Taylor created the survey, and Stein, Heidler, other magnet teachers and the magnet parent advisory committee helped to refine the questions. After getting surveys from 353 students, many teachers helped to enter the data into different categories. Stein, who teaches Applied Statistics, then spent part of his summer analyzing the trends in the data.

The results aren't all negative, though, according to Taylor. "Some kids are just as concerned about their peers cheating as we are," Taylor said. "And there are students who say they don't cheat at all. I don't doubt that."

The results were presented to the magnet teachers and some administrators, including assistant principal Linda Wanner and principal Darryl Williams in August, according to Stein. "Teachers seemed depressed, while not necessarily shocked, about the results," Stein said. "But they were interested in seeing what the kids thought would be effective in fixing the problem."

Stein acknowledges that the problem won't go away overnight. "We're in the 'admitting we have a problem' stage," Stein said. "Now we're getting to a 'what are we going to do about it' stage." Once the presentation is given to students in the SAC, students will discuss the issues in subsequent advisory periods. The results will be presented to parents at a later date, according to Heidler.

Heidler hopes the presentation is the first step in correcting the perceived cheating problem. "I was concerned with some of the choices students were making," he said. "I want to make sure that students at Blair develop with the highest integrity."

Pia Nargundkar. Pia Nargundkar was Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2007-2008 school year. More »

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