Monday, April 18, 2011

Making Students More Honest

Cheating is a big problem for educators. Almost all students has cheated in some way. Worse, many are able to convince themselves it's either not that bad or not cheating at all. This is specifically a problem for my AP US History class debates where students asked be unbiased jury members. That's why, along with a jury selection method, I've come up with a very specific way to remind them of my integrity standards. Before each debate we
read this aloud:
I, insert your name, promise to judge the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me insert the name of your favorite president.
As I've suggested in the past, it helps:
In Experiment 1, 108 youngsters, aged 8-16 years, were left alone in the room and asked not to peek at the answers to a test. The majority of participants peeked at the test answers and then lied about their transgression. More importantly, participants were eight times more likely to change their response from a lie to the truth after promising to tell the truth. Experiment 2 confirmed that the results of Experiment 1 were not solely due to repeated questioning or the moral discussion of truth- and lie-telling. These results suggest that, while promising to tell the truth influences the truth-telling behaviors of adolescents, a moral discussion of truth and lies does not.
Via Eric Barker.


  1. The pledge is cute, but I wonder if it's too cute to be taken seriously.

  2. Yeah I've considered that. I figure it helps some and doesn't affect others. I don't think it hurts.

  3. I have a statement at the top of each test that says " I will not discuss this test with anyone until I am told I can do so. " Like you, I know some take it seriously and some do not. But it does prevent the student from coming in and asking about questions that another student has mentioned from a previous period. I will always ask, did you talk to someone about the test.

  4. Great thoughts Gail. I'm not as concerned about talking in between classes, since most of my test are long multiple choice tests. But I do mix up any essay tests.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.