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“Cheating” Is Actually An Effective Learning Method

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Gentlemen, our years of test bank use, bathroom breaks and “creative resource management” before exams have finally been validated. According to a number of studies in recent years, tests are more effective in learning when students are allowed to, essentially, cheat — outside notes, collaboration, sharing of resources, etc. It all leads to a greater retention rate and mastery than the normal style of high-stakes competitive examinations. So, all you pre-meds out their feeding shit answers to your friends to help the curve, stop it. Stop it right now.

One of the studies in question was an exam where students were allowed to collaborate in whatever ways they saw fit in a behavioral ecology class, fittingly modeling the exact kind of interactions the students were studying. We see what you’re doing there, Professor Nonacs. Well played, simulating ecology in an ecology exam setting. Of course, the damn stoner sitting in the back row will try to leech off your work like a parasite, but you can demonstrate an example of dominance dynamics in social hierarchies of an ecological community by telling him to kindly go fuck himself.

The results of these kinds of studies overwhelmingly confirm that the high-stakes testing model is just not effective in teaching us what we need to learn. Plus, the amount of money one needs to spend on performance enhancing substances around finals is enough to make Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong balk at the bill.

I’m personally all for this idea of collaborative, open testing. I had a few in my classes, and they were great, because I actually do remember most of what we covered in those classes, despite putting in no more (and often much less) effort to learn or memorize the material. Of course, we would all find a way to game the system and ensure that every guy in the house was rocking a near 4.0 GPA, but all that demonstrates is that we’ve learned to collectively harness our resources for the betterment of the chapter’s academics. Or, we have 40 years of exams thanks to all the well-organized borderline alcoholics that came before us.

[via NPR]


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Scientist, internet comedian, future supervillain. I still refuse to believe I've graduated college.

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