Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yes, we were students too!

Sometimes, many times, this Cafe's barristers talk about our students. Our favorite topic is how do they cheat. Or, to be precise, 'how do they cheat stupidly.' Well, frankly, it's hard to know if they cheated in the exam. It is usually easier to detect plagiarism in an essay or paper assignment. And it is very easy to detect a clumsy plagiarism.

I'm sure it happened to the other lecturers, one way or another. But I did experience my articles being plagiarized. Aco once told me that one of his former students copied-and-pasted a few paragraphs of my article for his term paper without any citation. A worse case, reported by Rizal a few days ago, was when his student submitted my other article -- yes, a full article -- for his/her assignment (Rizal did not specify gender, and I did not care).

But I happened to have a first-hand experience of the stupidest plagiarism ever. A few years ago, my student even submitted my own article for her final assignment. Not only she was too lazy to write her own assignment. She was too lazy to check the stuff she was stealing!

We economists know very well that people (students) have incentives to cheat. But what we don't understand is why they do not bother to do it smart. Come on. We are lecturers and researchers. Reading newspaper articles is our job. Sometimes even we're the one writing those articles. At least, we are friends of the authors whose article you steal.

I once tried this way. In the final exam I asked one question: "write the title of your essay assignment and summarize it in one paragraph" (the essay was submitted before the exam). While most student did well in this question, still I found one or two who wrote a completely different thing from their essay, one or two who left it blank or were only able to remember the title, and some who did not 'answer' it correctly.

If you happen to be that type of student, I just want to say "Plis deh...!"


  1. ya ampun...ketahuan ya

  2. i'm thinking that perhaps stupid cheating is not as much an incentive-seeking case as it is a cost-avoidance one. the distinction might be a purely semantic (and thus uneccessary) one, but i think there is a marked difference between someone who cheats to get a better mark and someone who does it out of pure laziness -- though i'm not sure how. it'd be interesting if behav econ says something about this.

  3. Here's a college student's insight on the issue (more shameless self promotion, hehe).

  4. Agree with Aco's comment here. It's a problem of selection bias. You missed all the good cheaters.

    As for those who got caught, it's simply mistakes in risk-assessment -- not unlike those made by the millions of smart investors in stock markets every day.

  5. someone who cheats to get a better mark

    Perhaps you can equate feelings of inadequacy, perfectionism, insecurity (in a sense that you think your answer is not good enough)....ooOoo getting psychological here.

    Cheating because of pure laziness...hmm personally, I'd rather not cheat and risk a bad mark so that I can blame it on failure to prepare properly/inefficent study skills rather than the word "laziness".