Who’s to Blame?

Mr. Jefferey Frieden* recently posed an interesting question to twitter and I would like to take a moment to give my take. Here’s the question:

The answer is A and B. They cheated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating an assignment that can be airdropped and copied. Answering questions and prompts on a piece of paper (and many other types of written assignments) can be a great way to assess student learning and provide feedback to students about their learning. Not providing an assignment simply because it could be copied is quite silly. What is asinine is not dealing with the problem behaviors exhibited by the students. There should be a conversation about cheating with the students. There should be a discussion about the ramifications of academic dishonesty at the college level and as a professional. 

For me, this is quite simple to answer. The teacher did nothing wrong. The students did. Ignoring those facts and placing the blame on the teacher is misleading and definitely sends the wrong message to both the teacher and the students. I’m not saying these copyable assignments need to be the end of the learning experience, but they are wonderful for nailing down the knowledge necessary to create the diorama that cannot be copied but will assuredly either collect dust sitting in the teacher’s classroom until the end of the term or be thrown out as soon as the student can get rid of it. 

Let’s not make this any more complicated than it very clearly is…the students cheated. They are in the wrong. Fix that problem behavior. 

Do you agree or disagree?

*I don’t want anyone to read into this post as an indictment of Mr. Frieden. I only know him to be a teacher who works very hard to provide a great environment for learning in his classroom. I am simply answering the question he posed. 


  1. The students cheated. They need to be given fails for the assignment and 2 days in school suspension. Cheating is a huge issue. Hit it hard, hit it now and expel repeat offenders

  2. There seems to be an ideology that nothing can possibly be wrong with students, only with teachers. So bad behavior is due to “unmet needs” and cheating on homework is the teacher’s fault for failing to create uncheatable homework. Perhaps the arsonist is blameless and the fault lies with the builder for failing to create untorchable structures.

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