David Warlick posted an article yesterday about where the line is between creativity and cheating.
Over and over again I read about these kinds of issues, and it keeps reminding me that as an educator, I need to rethink the way I assess my students. Even in elementary school, this kind of problem has been around for years—except in our case the “outsourcing” often means that the parents did the work for the child.
They are often well-meaning, to a point, wanting the best for their child—meaning of course the best grade. But rather than bemoaning the fact that our students (and parents) try to find the loopholes in the assignment, we need to find different ways of getting at what our kids know, understand, and are able to do.
I think it’s also important to be much more transparent about exactly what we’re looking for and why we want them to do what we’re asking. Tell them up front that the goal is not a working computer program, for example, but that it’s about the problem solving process they used to get there. So maybe we need to assess the student’s whole process—including notes and false starts and bug-filled code that won’t compile–and ask them to write about how they were able to get it working.
I also think it’s important to teach students how to use resources effectively. Instead of scolding someone for going out and getting other people involved in a project, design assignments/assessments that encourage or even require it, and assess how well the student is able to integrate the help they get into the final product.