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Student Development Case Study: Angelina

 

 

Angelina is a bicultural young woman who comes from a Latino father and an American Indian mother. The family lives paycheck to paycheck, and Angelina must work for any extra money that isn’t provided by her scholarship (fees, tuition, room, board, entertainments, transportation). To afford these things, she works about 20 hours a week.

Angelina attends a university near the home where she lives with her parents, and was given an athletic scholarship to play soccer due to her talents on the soccer team in high school. She has several hours of soccer practice each week, and is required to attend 20 hours of tutoring for athletes each week, too. Angelina rides the bus to school every day (nearly 1 hr. each way).

In addition to not having enough money or hours in the day, Angelina feels like an outsider with her teammates. They’ve never missed practice for work; they don’t know what it’s like to struggle financially; and all but two on the team appear to be white. Her teammates are attending parties on weekends and going on outdoor excursions with the school’s outdoor program.

To make matters worse, her parents are constantly in a state of tug-of-war, pushing their ethnic and cultural identities on her and insisting she be “more Mexican” or “more Native.” They want her to attend their cultural festivals and family events, but Angelina doesn’t have the time. Angelina’s dad sees no point in her “wasting her time” on college because he expects her to stay home, get married, and raise a family like his own sisters did.

Angelina, a freshman, wants to study biology.

Questions

What challenges of Angelina’s can we help with?

How can we help her financially so she doesn’t have to work so much?

How can we help her create more time to study?

How can we help her feel like an equal with her teammates?

How can we encourage her in her in her relationships with her parents?

 

We will examine solutions by using Horse’s American Indian Identity Development, emerging theoretical perspectives on identities, and various theories surrounding social class.

 

Facts, Theories, and Applications

  • Patton warns that one-dimensional analysis of students “rules out more critical and complex understanding of class and other identities (258).
  • 1st Generation, Poor, Working Students (247) are “Academic Immigrants” Borrego (2003)

 

Social Class

Patton discusses ‘’belongingness (258).” Ostrove’s 2003 study of social classes of college women found that working class women experienced feelings of exclusion and felt academically underprepared.

 

Concern: Retention. Native Americans have the highest college dropout rate of all races.

Hurst (2007, p. 256) classifies working class students into 2 groups: loyalists and renegades. Loyalists are committed to bettering life for them and their families through hard work and reaching their goals. Renegades think working class people are lazy and dysfunctional. Angelina is a loyalist. With her positive outlook, she is likely to stay in college. But if it becomes too stressful, she risks becoming a dropout.

 

Concern: Parental Support

Auerbach, 2004; Pascarella, Pierson, Wonniak, & Terenzini, (2004)- 1st generation, low-income college students receive very little guidance from their parents in navigating the processes of college.

 

Concern: Belonging

Adair (2001): To low income women in college, “the academy becomes a place of fear and diminished value, rather than a site of empowerment (p. 234).”

 

Racial Class

Concern: Identity- Horse says that native consciousness has undergone “eras of change (2012, p. 109). This is what Angelina is experiencing in her differences with her mother and even possibly her father.

 

 

Solutions

An on-campus job for Angelina would reduce her commute time for work, pay her a slightly better wage than she currently makes, and encourage networking and relationship building with faculty and staff. Patton (263) posits that educators should go beyond the call of duty by genuinely “supporting students, acknowledging their humanity, and fostering strong relationships with them.” Among other positive outcomes, these relationships serve as attrition-busters. An on-campus job would also be flexible with her school schedule, tutoring, and practice.

Angelina needs to be connected with others like her. The Native American group on campus has a small following. It would be easy for her to break in socially and get connected with others who have some of the same struggles. Patton (2010), and Stewart (2011) agree that encouraging students to reflect on their culture through campus spaces and groups is beneficial. Angelina needs to explore and realize how the evolution of her own family and cultures play into her identity.

It is very important for Angelina to be connected with a peer mentor. A young white woman with extensive multicultural experience would be a good candidate, but a Native woman or Latina would be even better. It is important that they have many similarities as Angelina so they can discuss solutions comfortably.

Angelina’s academic advisor needs to encourage her to start thinking about what she wants her future to look like. Where will she live? What does she want to do? How long does she want to spend in school: BS? MS? PhD? Then she needs to start making concrete decisions that will propel her in that direction. As Patton states, “People are their choices (263).”

Angelina should be encouraged to spend some of her Arts and Letters and Multicultural credits on courses exploring the history of her two different races. This may give her some insight into her parents’ feelings and her own development.

 

References

Patton, L. D., (2016). Student development in college. 258. Jossey-Bass. San Francisco

Borrego, S. (2003). Class matters: Beyond access to inclusion. Washington: National Association of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Ostrove, J. M. (2003). Privileging class: Toward a critical psychology of social class background from women’s constructions of their college experiences. Journal of Social Issues, 59, 677-692.

Hurst, A. L. (2007). Telling tales of oppression dysfunction: Narratives of class identity reformation. Qualitative Sociology Review, 3, 82-104.

Auerbach, S. (2004). Engaging Latino parents in supporting college pathways: Lessons from a college access program. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 3(2), 125-145.

Pascarella, E. T., Pierson, C. T., Wolniak, G. C., & Terenzini, P. T. (2004). First-generation college students: Additional evidence on college experiences and outcomes. The Journal of Higher Education, 75, 249-284.

Adair, V. G. (2001). Pverty and the (broken) promise of higher education. Harvard Educational Review, 71, 217-239.

Horse, P. G. (2001). Reflections on American Indian identity. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson, III (Eds.) New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 91-107). New York: New York University Press.

Patton, L. D. (Ed.) (2010). Culture centers in higher education: Perspectives on identity, theory, and practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Stewart, D. L. (Ed.), Building bridges, re-visioning community: Multicultural student services on campus. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College Student Development

 

Many students enter college right out of high school and right out from under their parents’ roofs. These are the students I will discuss in this paper—the traditional student—although many of my theories apply to non-traditional students as well. Changing from an academic high school environment where teachers often closely oversee the turning in of homework and the progress of grades, to something akin to a sink or swim system can be a big enough shock to new college freshmen. This doesn’t speak to the changes they may be experiencing living away from home, missing the daily interactions with their parents, and leaving their close-knit group of friends. Within the spectrum of tough love to helicopter advisor, we have a myriad of options in how we coach these students.

It is not our duty to teach tough love. Nor is it our duty to hover over every move they make. It is our duty to help our students succeed, and somewhere in that spectrum we will find the perfect starting points for each of our students, meeting them where they are. As we move along through the years, a student affairs professional’s (SAP) duties become a little more hands-off, giving students the opportunity to discover information for themselves, but not allowing critical issues to slip through the cracks. It is truly a fine balance, one that most likely can be successfully executed with good note-taking and close monitoring on the SAP’s part.

Arriving on campus, most students feel like they stick out like a sore thumb. They may feel like others belong, but they do not. This is why it is important for them to get connected right away. Colleges usually introduce students to their advisors during a Week of Welcome event in the summer. Students should look to these advisors as something of a homeroom teacher—someone they can go to for academic, physical, emotional, and social help. An ideal advisor/advisee relationship would last throughout the student’s time on campus, but due to administrative structures, that is not always possible.

There are at least three important things a student should be told in his or her first advising session. First, they need to know that the shortest distance between Point A and Point B is not the best route in college. Their work here is 90% mental. Their brains will need to work hard. They will need to dig deeper for the best results in academia. Unlike high school, they are not here to just do the homework. They are here for the learning. Sure, they may land an interview with that degree, but they can bet that they won’t be getting the job or keeping it for long if they don’t have the knowledge and skills to back it up.

The second most important thing an advisor can explain to a student early on is that their college experience includes so much more than what happens in the classroom–even more than what happens on campus. Students should be told to look at extra-curricular activities as part of the learning and development experience; activities like part-time jobs, athletics, Greek life, volunteering, hanging out with their new friends, and yes, even alcohol-fueled parties. Despite any recommendations we may make to the contrary, these parties, along with the other learning experiences, will most likely be a part of students’ lives. But they can be used as social tools where students learn life lessons, contributing to the “whole” of the person they will become.

Lastly, students need to understand this high quality of learning and development will not be possible without high quality fuel. Ramen noodles and pizza will not go too far when discussing abstract concepts with your graduate teachers and professors. Garbage in, garbage out. Sleep is also fuel. Students must care for themselves in college. They need to treat their bodies like the high tech machines they are. And SAP’s should encourage students to reward themselves once in awhile for all that hard work.

My theories are based on empirical evidence. I’ve been in college as a traditional student, and as a non-traditional student. I’ve spent eight years earning four degrees. I’ve watched my own kids navigate the system. I have worked at the local university, and often was the one in our department who students came to to talk—even though that was not my job. My holistic approach addresses all needs of students that I have experienced myself.

Nancy Schlossberg’s Transition Theory Applied

 

The Situation

My family endured a tremendous transition or maybe set of transitions in 2011-2012 when my husband lost his 18-year career as an operations manager for a furniture chain. An unanticipated transition, this loss set into motion a life-shaking series of losses and lessons. It changed our plans, our relationships, our views, and our routines. The impacts it had on us are too many to name. Our income went from six figures to no figures overnight, and in a time when every market was collapsing just as devastatingly. Having never experienced anything like this in our lifetime, we had no context to frame this event, no ideas of resources to sustain us, and certainly no feeling that it was even in the realm of possibility.

We went from living a life where we bought anything and everything we wanted, where we felt we were on top of our social circle, in a competitive and somewhat snooty community, to feeling cheap, dirty, worthless, inferior, forgotten, deprived, and oh, so devastated for our own children. They were in the thick of the competitive scene, in middle school, where you are judged on your jeans and vehicles and houses, and not your character.

 

The Self

Many parents get the feeling when they first have a child that they want the world for that little person. We felt that very way about our own kids. And to be told overnight that it was no longer possible made us feel like such impotent, ineffective people. We couldn’t hardly even look at them without feeling guilt. It rattled our kids, and still has quite a grip on our oldest daughter today. Eventually we lost our home, our cars, and the ability to afford college for our kids.

 

Support

We learned through a friend about foodstamps, and a state-funded medical insurance program for our kids. While waiting to be accepted, our son broke his arm. Twice. He then developed an abscess in his appendix and had an emergency surgery to remove it. A few months later, he was hospitalized for pneumonia. Bankruptcy ensued, along with further lack of self-efficacy. Eventually we were given food stamps, health insurance for the kids, and low-cost vaccination clinic appointments. Additionally, my mental illness and health issues went untreated, as did my husband’s.

 

We stood in lines for these resources with people we would have never rubbed elbows with: people we previously judged as being less than worthy. Yet here we were, right there with them. This made us feel less than worthy. We sought counseling, talked to friends who had hard life experiences, and started realizing that none of our worth had been lost. If you had told us before this transition that relationships and people are the most important things in life, we would’ve laughed and thought it was a cute colloquialism. But we soon came to realize why this is true. Because when there’s nothing else there, you still have the people in your life, and they are truly what got us through.

 

 

Strategies

As a parent, you want nothing more than to guarantee your children’s feelings of security, but we couldn’t even do that. We talked to our kids about our situation. It was hard to do it from a healthy perspective living in the midst of it and not knowing what the future held. One coping strategy I used was to anticipate things before they happened. Before the house was officially foreclosed, I knew how far we were in arrears, so instead of waiting to be evicted, I started searching for a house to rent right away. We moved on our terms, not by some sheriff knocking on our door and kicking us out. We had to scrap for dignity wherever we could. We moved the kids across town to schools that were in a lower socio-economic neighborhood so they could feel like they belonged, and be on top of their game for their academics and integrity.
We learned to shop second-hand, something we still do to this day. Goodwill, Facebook sales groups, yard sales, we were forced to see the value in someone else’s trash. And we still do!

I would say the outcomes of our transitions and tragedy are more positive than negative. We still don’t own a home, and soon will emerge from bankruptcy. Though it has been very hard on our oldest daughter, our kids have all become very careful with money—as have we. They are good savers, savvy shoppers, and don’t carry our previous attitude of “I work hard, therefore I deserve it.” In this period of life, we received two very precious gifts: one was a college education for each of our kids, via our low income. They qualify for the Oregon Promise, and Pathways Oregon, which pays all their tuition and fees. One has already graduated with almost no debt, and two are currently enrolled. The second gift, and the absolute best is the gift of compassion. We learned not to judge people. Our kids also learned this, and it isn’t something we could have taught them ourselves. It has to be experienced.

Other friends have experienced similar situations, although much less severe. What I have said to them is that there is another side to this dark tunnel. They’re going to emerge. It’s going to take awhile. And it’s going to hurt. Although vague and colloquial, this is important to remember. The concrete things they can do are to look on their situation as optimistically as they can. I became a very optimistic person during our crisis. There was literally nowhere else to look but up. And it was the only thing I could do to sustain our family and make us feel less impotent.

In regards to a student experiencing something similar, I would suggest they do what feels best for themselves and their family. I would also let them know to look for the good: the possibility of getting their tuition paid for, getting money for food, and getting help with health insurance.

Schlossberg defines a transition as “any event, or non-event, (which) results in changed relationships, routines, assumptions, and roles (Goodman, Schlossberg, & Anderson, 2006).” Transitions are classified based on how they are perceived, and the context in which they occur. Insignificant changes are not considered transitions. I am unsure if Schlossberg would call ours a transition or a series of transitions.

I found Schlossberg’s transition theory very meaningful, and could look back on our situation while studying this week, and see each step. How immensely helpful it would have been to know these things ahead of time. She expertly maps each stage and factor in the transition process.

Summary of Appraisal

Trigger- economic collapse; owner’s sale of company

Timing- “Off-time”: happened at a bad time in life

Control- Transition itself: out of our control; Reaction: mostly in our control

Role changes- From stay-at-home socialite mom and breadwinning dad, to withdrawn, depressed, irritable, unsure, scraping-by jobless parents

Duration- temporary, but long-lived effects

Previous experience- none

Concurrent stress- set off chain reaction of stressors from how to pay for dinner to how to pay for college, to how to pay rent

Assessment- I don’t know who is responsible for this transition; I guess a combination of circumstances along with our own ill-preparedness

 

Breaking Through the Access Barrier: A Book Review

 

Complexity: Breaking through the access barrier: How academic capital formation can improve policy in higher education by Edward P. St. John, Shouping Hu, and Amy S. Fisher. Published by Routledge, New York, 2011.

Abstract: St. John et. Al. identify two overarching issues as solutions to the hurdles of college access, including successful degree completion: academic capital formation, and Informing public policy. Topics within those issues boil down to about five components a would-be student culture needs to be successful: state funding for college-level courses and preparedness; support from and for parents; adequate state and federal funding of tuition and expenses; support systems for students; and the student’s own desire to succeed.

In Breaking Through the Access Barrier, studies of three main high school to college programs are evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively, revealing components that hardly come as a surprise to educators, but need to be widely understood by the entire academic community and its support systems. A heavy read, this book takes a deep dive into policies that are designed to help students from marginalized populations, namely first-generation students, and uncovers the unintended consequences of misguided, well-meant interventions.

St. John, et. Al., propose the concept of Academic Capital Formation, the acquiring of the knowledge of the navigation processes, into and throughout college. They suggest that if parents have college experience, their children are much more likely to apply for, attend, and complete college. But for parents who didn’t attend college, it is even more important that they assert themselves into their child’s academic life, making sure they are academically and emotionally prepared for this next step. Additionally, it is important that high schools are given the resources to provide college-level courses, educate students on college and career options, scholarship opportunities and other resources to students.

Perhaps most importantly, the authors assert that we must bolster the human side of the education system, rebuilding it to provide caring and supportive environments for parents and students. In fact, the most successful integrated scholarship programs have a strong family engagement component. Institutions’ impenetrable, business-like atmosphere, draws the student in, but often in a way that strips him of his culture: values, family, heritage, autonomy.

So why so much emphasis on college? “These forces reproduce the middle-class and elite in society,” the authors say. For most large corporations and also the government to be sustainable, it is essential to have a strong working class, as well as a population of wealthy individuals. So the return on investment when the government or big corporations give grants and scholarships is worth it to these agencies.

One big issue the authors point out is the constant reinvention of the wheel in the public school system. Changing math curriculum, revamping the reading program, shifting focus away from the humanities all works to erode parents’ trust in the educational system, say the authors, to the point of parental complacency of their students dropping out.

The three intervention programs the authors compared and contrasted were the Gates’ Millenium Scholars, Washington State Scholars (also subsidized by Gates), and Indiana’s Twenty-First Century Scholars. These programs not only provide financial support, they focus on a more holistic approach with tutoring, mentoring, financial counseling, academic and career advising, and family events.

The authors say that policies that have failed in the past, including those designed to improve access. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, research on college access influenced the creation of the Pell grant. But this didn’t increase enrollment as expected. Meanwhile, other federal funding was being cut. Additionally, research was not able to show the efficacy of the Pell grant, so the emphasis switched to loans. Pell grants declined, and left those with low incomes out in the cold. It wasn’t until 2002 that this policy was reversed and aid was restored at more adequate rates. The policies were not examined and implemented in a thoughtful way, where each of the moving parts was accounted and planned for. Additionally, the authors say, “the social processes of change in schools and across generations weren’t considered.

Digging deeper to the heart of the problem, past the role of the parents, the authors see the need for intervention in entire communities of families who are historically denied college access: families in the inner-city, poor schools, those with paltry aid, social environments that reinforce school-to-work, welfare, or prison.

Another case of misguided policies was during the Regan era, when research showed that students who graduated from college had better middle school algebra scores. But correlation does not equal causation, so when the Education Department mandated new standards nationwide, the number of college students did not increase over time. While many more students were better prepared, they still did not attend college. This is because the administration did not consider financial access.
To provide a successful intervention and rework educational policies the system needs to be looked at as a weakened hose. Somewhere on that hose, in at least one spot, there’s going to be a bubble. When you clamp down on that bubble, what happens? It remedies the problem by strengthening the area, but other areas of the hose become compromised and begin to bulge. The only solution is a simultaneous multi-clamp approach.

This book shares in a straightforward manner time-tested, multi-pronged solutions for seeing a student through to success. However, its non-conversational tone reads more like a research report, so it is very heavy and dry at times. The methods of research were responsibly carried out and quite thoughtful, as were the theses for change. The valuable insight provided encompasses a holistic approach to interventions and advising, which I think is most effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Academic Dishonesty in College

 

Abstract

Experts disagree on whether or not academic dishonesty is on the rise. Regardless, new technology requires professors to be at least one step ahead of their students and something needs to be done to remedy this problem. In a literature review, I discuss who cheat, how it is done, and students’ reasons for doing so. Also, I will report on suggestions from experts in education who submit recommendations of good teaching practices that will keep students engaged and become masters of their learning.

 

The breakneck pace of college courses is enough to send an unprepared student reeling. Even the most stable student struggles with putting out quality work in a timely fashion. So it is no wonder that students who do not have the most rigid of ethics seriously consider cheating from time to time. A full 75 percent of students admitted to cheating at least once in their college career, according to a 2013 Boston Globe report. And if a student gets away with it once, she is likely to do it again.

In 2012 Harvard forced approximately 70 undergraduates to withdraw from the institution for cheating on a final exam (New York Times). The same year, University of Colorado Denver uncovered a scheme where students were hiring people to take their online courses and exams for them. The University of Oregon also suspended and eventually forced the complete withdrawal of two students who were charging international students $1000 per course to do the same.

How students cheat

Types of cheating run the gamut—from plagiarizing a few lines of an essay, to hiring someone to take an entire course in one’s place. recent technology has students digging even deeper. Now they are recording answers and test information on their smartphone music apps and telling their instructors they work much better with “relaxing music.” Then they put their headphones in, and voila–they are A students. Or they may download answers in the lyrics portion of these music apps. Some students in an earlier section of a class might take a picture of the exam and pass it to a friend in a later section. Leef (2016) likens college cheating today to a hospital superbug that cannot be contained (2016). A smart cheater knows to get some of the answers wrong so as not to arouse suspicion. Even students who hire stand-ins to take entire classes are known to ask their stand-ins to fail a class here and there so as to fly under the radar (Kerwin, 2013).

Much research has been done on plagiarism and there are now fairly foolproof ways to stop it. My daughter is required by her Writing teacher to run her papers through an online plagiarism detector before turning it in. VeriCite is conveniently integrated into her school’s Canvas program. Requiring this extra step of students ensures they are aware of the facts that plagiarism can be somewhat unintentional, they need to be constantly mindful of doing their own work, and that the teacher is watching closely. When a student turns in a paper, she must also include a printout of her VeriCite score, a number on a scale of 1-100 that tells a student how much of her work is actually plagiarized. My daughter often gets an acceptable score of 6-10 percent plagiarism, simply due to the use of common phrases and the vernacular when measured against the almost-infinite content of the World Wide Web.

But plagiarism is old hat now, and instructors are finding students are more likely to cheat when it involves a short answer or multiple choice question. Lang says this is because of the design of the learning environment, which focuses on memorizing content instead of solving problems. “Too often we think about courses as ‘covering’ material. As plenty of people have pointed out, though, just because you are covering something doesn’t mean that the students are learning it (2013)!”

Surprisingly, students do not always know they are cheating. There are gray areas or ways of cheating that have never been addressed with students that might not occur to them as being actual cheating: overstating a disability, pretending to be sick, using an assignment from a previous class again. Some students realize these are not exactly honest, but nowhere close to being a punishable transgression. Professors and staff must talk to their students about the many definitions of cheating, and they must do it early and often. In addition to reinforcing awareness, this also serves to remind students that they are being watched.

Why students cheat

Ask any college student today and they are likely to tell you they want to be successful. And what is the biggest marker of success in the U.S.? Ultimately, money. It is the carrot. The degree is the donkey. Chances are, if you asked a student if she would accept a carrot without having to goad the donkey, and have no chance of getting caught, she would. A college degree, for many, is simply a prize to be attained; something mom and dad demand that one must fulfill; the expected next step after high school. And the sooner you can get the degree, the sooner you will be on your way to riches. It is not about learning, for many. Students who, in research studies, (anonymously) self-report cheating say they do it because of competitive pressures, perceived unfair grading, seeing others do it, and thinking they can get away with it (Vittrup).

Lang says many students who cheat have poor metacognition—or a false sense of security in knowing the material they will be tested on. When a student thinks she understands the material, then bombs the exam, she is likely to resort to cheating the next time. Lang draws a line between two sets of students, the performers and the masters. Performance-oriented students want to do well on the exam but are less concerned about understanding the material. Mastery-oriented students often learn the material more deeply than performance-oriented students, and retain it longer. Master-oriented students also cheat less. Lang calls cheating “an inappropriate response to a learning environment that’s not working for the student (page/etc).”

Vittrup says “as college professors, we have an opportunity—and an obligation—to interrupt this trajectory of cheating before it moves from the classroom to the professional world.” She posits that cheating undergraduates become cheating graduates, who become cheating professors and researchers.

How do we discourage cheating

Lang says that the best methods of reducing cheating are also the best ways to get students to retain the material. “When students can grasp the subject matter, they have little motivation to cheat,” he says. Lang also encourages professors to draw students into a course by beginning class with a fascinating question or challenge. Additionally, educators must continually ask themselves daily why students should care about what the professor is teaching.

Lang recommends what he calls “grounded” assessments in which students are asked to solve a problem in the immediate area, campus, or community. “If we can use such assignments to convince students that our courses matter, and give them authentic and interesting assignments, we will go a long way toward reducing cheating,” Lang says.

But the overriding theme of matriculating into college needs to be focused on the fact that this is heavy lifting. “Do hard things.” It is not for wimps. You are here to learn, so to make it easier on yourself, you may want to embrace that and prioritize other things around your opportunities for knowledge.

References

Kerwin, J. (Oct 8, 2013). If you’re paying someone to take your classes, pay for Bs, not As. Nonparibus. Retrieved from http://jasonkerwin.com/nonparibus/2013/10/08/if-youre-paying-someone-to-take-your-classes-pay-for-bs-not-as/

Lang, J. (Aug 4, 2013). How college classes encourage cheating. Boston Globe. Retrieved from

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/08/03/how-college-classes-encourage-cheating/3Q34x5ysYcplWNA3yO2eLK/story.html

Leef, G. (Oct 12, 2016) The new college cheating: Why not buy your degree. Retrieved from http://www.popecenter.org/2016/10/new-college-cheating

Perez-Pena, R. (Aug 12, 2012). Harvard students in cheating scandal say collaboration was accepted. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/education/students-of-harvard-cheating-scandal-say-group-work-was-accepted.html

Vittrup, B. (Apr 27, 2016). Stop students who cheat before they become cheating professors. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Stop-Students-Who-Cheat-Before/236269?cid=rc_right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

Experts disagree on whether or not academic dishonesty is on the rise. Regardless, new technology requires professors to be at least one step ahead of their students and something needs to be done to remedy this problem. In a literature review, I discuss who cheat, how it is done, and students’ reasons for doing so. Also, I will report on suggestions from experts in education who submit recommendations of good teaching practices that will keep students engaged and become masters of their learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The breakneck pace of college courses is enough to send an unprepared student reeling. Even the most stable student struggles with putting out quality work in a timely fashion. So it is no wonder that students who do not have the most rigid of ethics seriously consider cheating from time to time. A full 75 percent of students admitted to cheating at least once in their college career, according to a 2013 Boston Globe report. And if a student gets away with it once, she is likely to do it again.

In 2012 Harvard forced approximately 70 undergraduates to withdraw from the institution for cheating on a final exam (New York Times). The same year, University of Colorado Denver uncovered a scheme where students were hiring people to take their online courses and exams for them. The University of Oregon also suspended and eventually forced the complete withdrawal of two students who were charging international students $1000 per course to do the same.

How students cheat

Types of cheating run the gamut—from plagiarizing a few lines of an essay, to hiring someone to take an entire course in one’s place. recent technology has students digging even deeper. Now they are recording answers and test information on their smartphone music apps and telling their instructors they work much better with “relaxing music.” Then they put their headphones in, and voila–they are A students. Or they may download answers in the lyrics portion of these music apps. Some students in an earlier section of a class might take a picture of the exam and pass it to a friend in a later section. Leef (2016) likens college cheating today to a hospital superbug that cannot be contained (2016). A smart cheater knows to get some of the answers wrong so as not to arouse suspicion. Even students who hire stand-ins to take entire classes are known to ask their stand-ins to fail a class here and there so as to fly under the radar (Kerwin, 2013).

Much research has been done on plagiarism and there are now fairly foolproof ways to stop it. My daughter is required by her Writing teacher to run her papers through an online plagiarism detector before turning it in. VeriCite is conveniently integrated into her school’s Canvas program. Requiring this extra step of students ensures they are aware of the facts that plagiarism can be somewhat unintentional, they need to be constantly mindful of doing their own work, and that the teacher is watching closely. When a student turns in a paper, she must also include a printout of her VeriCite score, a number on a scale of 1-100 that tells a student how much of her work is actually plagiarized. My daughter often gets an acceptable score of 6-10 percent plagiarism, simply due to the use of common phrases and the vernacular when measured against the almost-infinite content of the World Wide Web.

But plagiarism is old hat now, and instructors are finding students are more likely to cheat when it involves a short answer or multiple choice question. Lang says this is because of the design of the learning environment, which focuses on memorizing content instead of solving problems. “Too often we think about courses as ‘covering’ material. As plenty of people have pointed out, though, just because you are covering something doesn’t mean that the students are learning it (2013)!”

Surprisingly, students do not always know they are cheating. There are gray areas or ways of cheating that have never been addressed with students that might not occur to them as being actual cheating: overstating a disability, pretending to be sick, using an assignment from a previous class again. Some students realize these are not exactly honest, but nowhere close to being a punishable transgression. Professors and staff must talk to their students about the many definitions of cheating, and they must do it early and often. In addition to reinforcing awareness, this also serves to remind students that they are being watched.

Why students cheat

Ask any college student today and they are likely to tell you they want to be successful. And what is the biggest marker of success in the U.S.? Ultimately, money. It is the carrot. The degree is the donkey. Chances are, if you asked a student if she would accept a carrot without having to goad the donkey, and have no chance of getting caught, she would. A college degree, for many, is simply a prize to be attained; something mom and dad demand that one must fulfill; the expected next step after high school. And the sooner you can get the degree, the sooner you will be on your way to riches. It is not about learning, for many. Students who, in research studies, (anonymously) self-report cheating say they do it because of competitive pressures, perceived unfair grading, seeing others do it, and thinking they can get away with it (Vittrup).

Lang says many students who cheat have poor metacognition—or a false sense of security in knowing the material they will be tested on. When a student thinks she understands the material, then bombs the exam, she is likely to resort to cheating the next time. Lang draws a line between two sets of students, the performers and the masters. Performance-oriented students want to do well on the exam but are less concerned about understanding the material. Mastery-oriented students often learn the material more deeply than performance-oriented students, and retain it longer. Master-oriented students also cheat less. Lang calls cheating “an inappropriate response to a learning environment that’s not working for the student (page/etc).”

Vittrup says “as college professors, we have an opportunity—and an obligation—to interrupt this trajectory of cheating before it moves from the classroom to the professional world.” She posits that cheating undergraduates become cheating graduates, who become cheating professors and researchers.

 

How do we discourage cheating

Lang says that the best methods of reducing cheating are also the best ways to get students to retain the material. “When students can grasp the subject matter, they have little motivation to cheat,” he says. Lang also encourages professors to draw students into a course by beginning class with a fascinating question or challenge. Additionally, educators must continually ask themselves daily why students should care about what the professor is teaching.

Lang recommends what he calls “grounded” assessments in which students are asked to solve a problem in the immediate area, campus, or community. “If we can use such assignments to convince students that our courses matter, and give them authentic and interesting assignments, we will go a long way toward reducing cheating,” Lang says.

But the overriding theme of matriculating into college needs to be focused on the fact that this is heavy lifting. “Do hard things.” It is not for wimps. You are here to learn, so to make it easier on yourself, you may want to embrace that and prioritize other things around your opportunities for knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Kerwin, J. (Oct 8, 2013). If you’re paying someone to take your classes, pay for Bs, not As. Nonparibus. Retrieved from http://jasonkerwin.com/nonparibus/2013/10/08/if-youre-paying-someone-to-take-your-classes-pay-for-bs-not-as/

 

Lang, J. (Aug 4, 2013). How college classes encourage cheating. Boston Globe. Retrieved from

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/08/03/how-college-classes-encourage-cheating/3Q34x5ysYcplWNA3yO2eLK/story.html

 

Leef, G. (Oct 12, 2016) The new college cheating: Why not buy your degree. Retrieved from http://www.popecenter.org/2016/10/new-college-cheating

 

Perez-Pena, R. (Aug 12, 2012). Harvard students in cheating scandal say collaboration was accepted. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/education/students-of-harvard-cheating-scandal-say-group-work-was-accepted.html

 

 

Vittrup, B. (Apr 27, 2016). Stop students who cheat before they become cheating professors. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Stop-Students-Who-Cheat-Before/236269?cid=rc_right

Student Assessment: A Case Study

 

Agnes’s early education seems to have been a quite positive experience for her. In fact, she reports never feeling like she struggled in any subject or socially until 8th grade. At that time, many changes were taking place in her life, which may have contributed to her struggles:

 

Agnes’ 8th grade year

Her parents both lost their jobs, and subsequently their home in 2008. Her family was forced to move and experienced a tumultuous time of uncertainty. This affected Agnes deeply, as she worried about becoming homeless. However, her grades didn’t suffer greatly—she only struggled in math.

 

Additionally, at the beginning of Agnes’ 8th grade year, her middle closed and the student population was sent to another middle school in a more affluent socio-economic area. Agnes reports that her cohort of students were made fun of and stereotyped with labels like poor and stupid. Additionally, this is the year Agnes says girls started to view each other as competition or enemies instead of friends. This was very uncomfortable for her. Her new school was cliquish, which was a big change from her old school.

 

Agnes’ 10th grade year

After buoying her Freshman year, Agnes reports she took a slide her sophomore year. She experimented with marijuana and alcohol. A bad break-up with her best friend troubled her. Agnes became disrespectful to her teachers. She took several Honors and AP classes during high school, but this year in particular she earned her first “D” in one of those classes. Agnes aspired to be in National Honors Society since she watched her sister become a National Honors student years before.

 

Agnes’ 11th grade year

In her junior year, Agnes became involved in a very positive new program—a class in her school that was teaching students self-reliance, self-reflection, and building inner loci of control in an outdoor environment. Agnes reports this class was very effective in achieving its targets, and was a huge personal boon to her spirituality. However, Agnes learned that she missed being an NHS scholar by a fraction of a percentage. She saw this as grossly unfair, as students who were taking regular classes had made NHS, but she had pushed hard through the tougher courses and barely missed it. Agnes reports this as being nearly as devastating for her as her family’s crisis a few years prior. She lost faith in justice, and stopped trying for good grades for a period of time.

 

Agnes’s 12th grade year

Agnes buoyed her senior year. With a bad case of senioritis, she filled out form after form, application after application. She always felt the sense of being several years ahead of her peers developmentally, possibly due to her close patterning after her older sister. So by the time Agnes was a senior, she was exhausted with all the extra work, and nonplussed and disenchanted by the idea of the local college she planned to attend. However, she persevered, somewhat in part to the outdoor program she was still in, and kept her grades up.

 

Agnes wanted to be a prison psychologist for years throughout middle and high school. However, that idea, too, has lost its appeal. Agnes, now a college freshman, realized that she attached romanticized notions of power, awe, and admiration from others to that career idea.

 

Today, Agnes is questioning her career and academic goals. She has lost the desire to “be somebody” well-known and well-revered, and reports more realistic ideals. She now limits her career interests with the inclination that she doesn’t want to spend another 8 years in school. She is considering a BS degree, but doesn’t know what she can do with it. Her ideal careers all require a Master’s of Ph.D.
Agnes’ interests all relate to some type of social work. She reports a strong attraction to the taboo and pushing the boundaries. She also is a strong intersectional feminist and strongly advocates for equal treatment for everyone, and the promotion of marginalized populations.

 

Agnes’ current career/major ideas include being a high school sexual education/health teacher, so she can teach students from a feminist perspective. However, she knows that to be able to push the boundaries, she would have to teach at the college level, which would be her ideal if it didn’t require 8 years of schooling.

 

Agnes is currently enrolled in Women’s and Gender Studies, Folklore, and Writing 123. She has developed a strong love for folklore, and says she would also love to teach some form of it.

 

Agnes is increasingly anxious about not having declared a major, and not having an idea of what it is she wants to do.

 

My advice

I have advised Agnes that although she feels she needs to choose a major and career today, she is still far ahead of most of her peers. I told Agnes that she needs to look at her early college years as explorative, where she samples several subjects and areas of learning, and discovers how those areas can translate into a career.
Since all of Agnes’ interests include some psychology, I encouraged her to continue taking psychology courses next term, while also whittling away on her general education courses. I also encouraged her to continue on in folklore and talk to her professor about careers in that area.

 

It is my belief that Agnes suffers from the same thing many of her peers do: the inability to see the liberal arts as a gateway to a concrete career path. Students like her can understand how STEM courses translate directly to jobs, but it is hard to understand what you can do with a degree in a liberal arts area.

 

Agnes suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. When it is a darker day, or rainy, her energy levels are depleted, and she sleeps a lot. It also affects her mood. She has seen her doctor several times, and is on medication for this issue, but doesn’t feel the medication completely resolves the problem.

 

Agnes and I have agreed to talk again at the end of the term, to re-examine her interests and look at her course load for the next term, as well as her general feeling of well-being.

 

Here is a list of Agnes’ action items for the next two months:

Keep grades up

 

Make a point to attend each professor’s office hours at least twice. In the first meeting, in addition to getting your direct questions answered about your homework, use this time to ask your professor about careers in his/her special area of study.

 

Research liberal arts careers online and make a list of 5-10 that interest you. Bring that list with you to our next meeting.

 

At the second visit with each professor, ask questions about what you’ve learned about the careers that interest you. See if you can eliminate or add to your list of potential careers.

 

Use the school’s gym in between classes at least twice a week. Exercise will increase the endorphins you are missing from sunlight, and work to counteract your mood and energy problems. It will be hard to initially put forth the effort, but you will thank yourself after each workout. Use this time to reflect on your readings, and what you discussed in class.

 

Use a positive rewards system to treat yourself after each workout. Try a glass of mint tea, a new water bottle, or putting a couple of dollars aside for a bigger reward. Find a healthy way to thank yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constructing Disability

 

While not ideal for generalization purposes (Johnson & Christensen, 2014), just four students met the criteria of this collective case study, initially begun with the purposeful sampling (Collins & Stewart, 2014). The initial population was new professionals or graduate students in the student affairs field. From there, researchers requested their email request be forwarded to other grad students and new professionals identified by the initial recipients as having a disability, who may also consent to participate. So while this snowball sample may have increased the number of participants, it was no longer authentic to the original variables, as students from other fields could now participate. The problem this may create is one of emic and non-emic terms and understandings, where student affairs grads would have the knowledge and vocabulary endemic to someone in their field which is where this study is based, but students in other fields would not. So not only was this no longer a homogenous selection, but they also did not speak the same language, so to speak (Johnson & Christensen).

Researchers deftly and creatively integrated their literature review into a narrative of historical perspectives, making it more meaningful and applied than a simple reading list. The primary questions researchers sought to answer were about these participants’ lived experiences as a person with disabilities, about their own perceptions of their disability and its nature and impact, and how their disability has influenced their student experience. The thick, rich description, which was on point in most cases, offered some peculiar information, specifically the sexuality of one student, something that seems to have no relativity to the questions or findings. Furthermore, researchers identified this sole male participant as being a “closeted” non-heterosexual (Collins & Stewart), which could breach the boundary of non-maleficence via deducted identification of this participant, and break what I assume they had, a promise of confidentiality to anyone who reviews the details of the study. However, confidentiality was also not discussed in the report.

Researchers drew attention to the shortcomings of their sample, making inferences about various paradigms, and also included inferences on those who may have not been included in their sample due to societal and cultural oppression in college admissions. This was a thoughtful way to bring about the need for further study of these issues. They also approached the overall study with the inclusive perspective that those with disabilities are the norm, and those without are the exception.

Interview protocol (with open-ended, non-leading, non-loaded questions) was administered to the focus group via informal conversational phone and Skype interviews, as well as by email, based on participant preference and geographic location. The problems this would create for quantitative research would knock out any trustworthiness, and even in qualitative research is not ideal. Various forms of communication create differently framed responses and opportunities. For example, an in-person interview, which would be ideal, lets researchers read body language, examine pauses in speech, listen to tone and inflection. It provides a rally of back and forth conversation where perceptions and meanings can be fully fleshed out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, email communication in this case was a four-point rally (question>answer>request for explanation>explanation), which did not allow for deep understanding and examination, nor reading of non-verbal cues. While minimal comparative analysis is necessary in this study, the different natures of communication could afford missed opportunities at least.

Cross-case analysis enabled pattern matching, and determined several important themes via triangulation that provide a launching point for further detailed study, both qualitative and quantitative. Further research could focus on different variables such as types of disability, students or professionals (not and), and work toward a more homogenous communication system. However, interpretive validity seemed to be present, and little bias was visible. Uncovered themes seemed to be broad enough to afford theoretical validity. Overall, this study was a valuable starting point for more research in this field.

 

 

 

References

Collins, K., & Stewart, D.-L. (2014). Constructing disability: Case studies of graduate students and new professionals with disabilities in student affairs. College student affairs journal, 32(1), 19-33.

Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critique of Qualitative Mobile Devices in Learning and Studies

Researchers in the “mobile devices in learning” study presented very thorough and balanced definitions of the tools and terms used. Using grounded theory, the interview guide approach encompassed an interview protocol administered over Skype to a single focus group of nine participants chosen via an “info-rich” purposive sampling method (Patton, 1990, 2002). This provided a desirable homogenous selection (Johnson & Christensen, 2014) (students of instructors who have used mobile technology for at least two semesters in their institution of higher education). Researchers provided a break-down chart of the elements of their sample (Gikas & Grant, 2013).

One area of concern in using a single focus group is that the findings rely too heavily on a single set of data. Two to four focus groups are desirable (Johnson & Christensen), as the more testing that results in similar findings, the more generalizable the findings are to the population (Johnson & Christensen). Additionally, a focus group scenario could create a type of reactivity, possibly frontstage behavior, that skews the data. One wonders if it could lead to something of a herd mentality or acquiescence.

The purposive sampling method used is common and appropriate for a qualitative study. Researchers used the recognized theories of body language provided by Merriam (2002), and Marshall & Rossman (2011). Additionally, Krueger’s non-verbal theories (2002) were used for coding. However, some glaring omissions were discovered in the report: researchers did not share how many group interviews were conducted, nor if every participant attended every interview. They also did not talk about any pre-interview contact, which could be relevant to the findings. This calls into question the descriptive and interpretive validity of the data.

In addition to the group interview, visual data was collected and examined in the form of recordings of the interviews, to observe and code the behavior of the participants during “off” times, between questions. The researchers modified their interview protocol as certain essences and phenomena emerged. This emergent design flexibility lends well to the guided approach for maximum accuracy in representation of reality.

In addition to participant criteria, researchers defined well their interpretation of mobile devices, limiting them to handheld internet-connectible items that would fit in a pocket or handbag (Gikas & Grant), surprisingly (at least to this reader) eliminating the laptop, which is a common device used in today’s classrooms.

Researchers said they used of Merriam’s tests of thick, rich description, member checking (1998), and Patton’s peer debriefing (2002) to for pattern matching purposes, and to justify and verify categories and themes, a method of theoretical validity. This allowed them to isolate two major themes: advantages and frustrations of using mobile devices for learning. However, some of their questions in the interview protocol were a bit vague. And glaringly, they included none of this rich text about their protocol or participants in the report, leaving the reader to rely on having to trust what researchers tell them, and disallowing us to make our on inferences based on these criteria.

Researchers mentioned that some lines were blurred between devices and applications, and possibly subjects’ personal identity and their mobile devices. It is unknown how these interpretations might skew the data, and further studies (possibly quantitative or mixed) would be needed to define these boundaries and more deeply understand students’ relationships with their devices.

References

Gikas, J., and Grant, M. M., (2013). Mobile computing devices in higher education: Student perspectives on learning with cellphones, smartphones, & social media. Internet and higher education. 19, 18-26.

Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Krueger, R.A. (2002). Designing and conducting focus group interviews. Retrieved January 6, 2012 rom http://www.comm.umn.edu.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. (2011). Designing qualitative research (5th ed). Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage.

Merriam, S.B. (2002). Qualitative research in practice. San Francisco. John Wiley & Sons

Patton, M. Q., (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Patton, M. Q., (2002). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.