Is the pandemic pushing more students to cheat? One teacher says yes
TORONTO -- A Calgary high school teacher says pandemic-induced stressors are pushing more students to cheat on tests and assignments.
Peter Zajiczek, who teaches math at Western Canada High School, says the pandemic has completely upended the way students learn.
"You're asking young people who are already struggling just to get through school to learn in a completely different way that doesn't really doesn't really work for them," he told CTV's Your Morning on Tuesday, describing the impact of virtual learning and other upheavals to traditional learning models.
High schools in Calgary had been operating fully online from April 19 to May 25 amid Alberta's third wave of COVID-19. Although students are back in classrooms, they would be forced to return to online classes if they become exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have to self-isolate.
Zajiczek says most teachers agree that learning online isn't as effective as in-person learning and, even for students who are learning in the classroom, many are dealing with anxieties about getting sick and being isolated.
"Every teacher I know believes that students are struggling because of this platform, and then we're expecting them to still learn," he said. "They're stressed, they're exhausted, they're worried about getting sent home in isolation, they're worried about getting COVID."
But many students are still being graded on knowledge that they may be missing because of pandemic-induced gaps in learning, prompting some to turn to cheating.
"There is a way to make it a little less scary. And that might be engaging in academic dishonesty," Zajiczek said.
Many teachers have been modifying their assessments to not only combat cheating, but also to make sure that students are understanding the material. In Zajiczek's math class for example, it's not enough for students to write down the correct answer to a problem.
"We're working on asking students their thought processes and understanding why they're giving us the answers they are, so that it's not so much about (having) the right answer. It just has to show us the learning that's occurring," he explained.
Zajiczek notes it's also been a challenge for teachers to adapt their lesson plans during the pandemic.
" I know (my school board) in particular has done a lot to try to help develop teachers professionally, to improve their teaching online, to improve their assessment practices. But I think we're taking a lot of it's taking a lot of time because just like the students, teachers are extremely stressed out trying to deliver both online and in person."