Friday, November 30, 2012

More Drafts

I had to deal with a case of cheating today. Fortunately, it went as smoothly as I could have hoped for! Here's what went down:

My students are writing reports on their scientific research (Research and Education project, or R&E) that they must present in an oral exam styled after speech-giving. We've been working on this for the past five weeks, actually: the result of my seeing each class only once a week, plus the massive amounts of free work time I gave them, because I wanted these speeches to be as perfect as possible. Well, I shouldn't have been surprised that some students still had very little to work with after a month, and accordingly, some of the speeches have been horrendous. Others have been absolutely perfect, which brings me joy.

But one student in particular, who will remain anonymous, showed essentially no effort. He handed in a first draft that was just a few sentences, and didn't bother to hand in a second draft. Two weeks later, he had his speech test, and stumbled through it, not really having memorized whatever was on his paper. And it was when he turned in this paper, the third and final draft, that I noticed something was up.

The final draft the student handed me was written in nearly impeccable English and I instantly suspected (more like knew) that the student had not written it. Or if he had, then he had to have written it in Korean and had someone else translate it. What I read simply could not have been produced by this student, a hunch I confirmed when I asked my co-teacher, and she said that this student normally had extremely low scores in her class.

We briefly discussed what we should do, and we knew we had to confront this directly. My co-teacher said, "You know, if this makes you uncomfortable, just know that it makes me uncomfortable, too." There are two things I'm sure you all know by now: grades in the Korean education system are the Most Important Thing, and parents can be insane. In extreme cases, the opprobrium a student caught cheating for good grades faces is nothing compared to the scandal churned up by the parents against the school, as if teachers are somehow responsible for students who have to resort to such measures.

In any case, we called in the suspected student, and I asked him to sit down and tried to deal with the problem as professionally as possible. I showed him his paper and asked him, "Is this your final draft?"

He knew what was up immediately. He said, "Yes, but... someone helped me to write it. But, I-"

I interrupted him. "Who helped you write it?" I asked, fearing that it might have been another student.

"My father," he replied. His face was completely expressionless, but there must have been a lot going on behind it. "He is a teacher at hagwon."

"Well, your father has very good English," I said, relieved, "but this is not good. I want you to write another speech, by yourself. And you will give your speech again, next week. Do you understand?"

He understood. In fact, he told me that he had already begun to write another speech. I let him go, and when the door closed behind him, my co-teacher (who had been in the room, watching and listening) chuckled. She said he looked so cute when he confessed. We were both glad that it didn't turn into anything uglier. I mean, part of me really wants to call up the student's father and chew him out for what he did, but I'm going to let it slide. He's going to be punished enough by the points deduction; in fact, both of them are being punished by this, in a sense. And this way, I was able to give him a second chance.

- - -

So, just because they fit thematically, and because I'll never get around to posting them otherwise, here are some choice excerpts from my students' first drafts. They're funny. (And they've all improved dramatically since.) Enjoy.

#1: First, make a box
There are so many surface structures such as honey comb, lotus leaf, etc... and it's very useful in many ways. In order to research about this, we made some surface structure by chemical experiment. We'll test many things. Materials: Many types of polymers, water. Method: First, make a box in which we will do experiment [...]

#2: We meet propessal (professor)
Title: "beams go down and Tables go down with Glass" -- we start our R&E since September. We already study force's blance. I will explain go down, beams, go down is [Korean] beams is [Korean] our R&E which search go down table with glass we studied material physics to reaseach and we meet propessal. We don't finish experiment. so we don't have data. Our R&E find out Glass and table is go down when our R&E finish, the table which have glass on elastic is not important

#3: We've released a lot of chlorine when junior tied the goat (The Google Translate Essay)
Title: "English Speech Drart1" -- The angle at which the subject of my math R&E traces of the endpoint of the segment under study for a change. In this study, we've released a lot of chlorine when junior tied the goat comes from the problem of saving the trace to move. Moons of the planets also orbiting around the planet and at the same time orbiting around the Sun when I was wondering about what draws the traces. Research first, computer programs to obtain a graph satisfies the condition. [...] Three ways to save a relationship with us through trillion, depending on the ratio of the segments of the expression cos values yielded different anchor points increases, the coefficient in front of the cos value has changed.

#4: Last but not least, the one that was handed in to me entirely in Korean.
I don't know, A for Affort, I guess?

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