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Teaching Tip: Dealing with Cheating in Your OM Class

November 23, 2013

cheating lessons bookHow do you deal with the sensitive issue of cheating in your operations management classes? Statistics show that nearly 3/4 of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today’s students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, author of Cheating Lessons: Learning From Academic Dishonesty (Harvard University Press, 2013), cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. The provocative research in his book indicates that students often cheat because their learning environments give them ample incentives to try–and that strategies which make cheating less worthwhile also improve student learning.

Drawing on an array of findings from cognitive theory, Lang analyzes the specific, often hidden features of course design and daily classroom practice that create opportunities for cheating. Courses that set the stakes of performance very high, that rely on single assessment mechanisms like multiple-choice tests, that have arbitrary grading criteria: these are the kinds of conditions that breed cheating. Promoting mastery and instilling the sense of self-efficacy that students need for deep learning is why Jay and I have worked so hard to develop MyOMLab. With this assessment software, your students can work on mastering the tools of OM, with instant feedback. You can assign homework, quizzes, exams with “algorithmic” problems, meaning that each student operates from a unique data set. Students can also be given multiple chances to improve homework scores. If you would like more information, visit

Although cheating is a persistent problem, the prognosis is not dire. The good news is that strategies which reduce cheating also improve student performance overall. Instructors who learn to curb academic dishonesty will have done more than solve a course management problem–they will have become better educators all around.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dr. Mark Jacobs permalink
    November 23, 2013 3:22 pm

    What is the likelihood that in the near future the publisher will add more of the algorithmic problems to myOMLab? The myMATHLab product has hundreds of problems, but there are a handful for operations.

    On an unrelated matter, I remember watching a video of you showing students how to solve a problem. Are these videos available on-line some where? I can see them being a useful resource to point students toward.

    Mark A. Jacobs, Ph.D

  2. November 23, 2013 5:47 pm

    Thanks for the note—and for using our text and MyOMLab at University of Dayton.

    Re the algorithmic homework problems, I think we are in good shape. There are about 700 (90% of all end-of-chapter problems) coded up and in MyOMLab. We will be converting a few hundred more next year from the “Additional Homework Problems” listed at the end of the chapters and found only in MyLab right now as “bookmatch” problems.

    You are right about the “Virtual Office Hours” videos of Jay and I solving each of the 83 Solved Problems in the chapters. The videos run 5-20 minutes long and are very detailed walk throughs. They are in MyLab also. Just click on multimedia library, then videos. They show up in each chapter. As I recall, when the students are actually working on an assignment, and they click on the video help button, the appropriate video pops up and runs. The 83 videos are each coded to a homework problem. They are also available on an instructor DVD that contains all of the company videos we have created.

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