Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

There's stupid and then there's stoopid.

During my many wanderings on the internet I recently came across* a little test that's supposed to tell you how stupid you are. No, you read that correctly: it's not an intelligence test, but rather a stupidity test. All I can say is that it must be what happens when you combine instrumentation with a total disregard for self-esteem. Perhaps fortunately for me my score turns out to be rather low: says I'm 6% Stupid! How stupid are you? Click Here!

While a diverting little exercise, I doubt this test is worth anything aside from sheer entertainment and so I don't place much stock in it. I was reminded of it, however, thanks to a note dropped to me by an alert reader about a recent survey on cheating behavior. Now, I should specify that I don't think that the methodology on this survey is all that sound. Specifically, it appears to be an online survey hosted by College, a site that I suspect is frequented by a disproportionate number of goof-offs and slackers. All the same, the results are interesting and it at least has a sample size of 29,176.** Leaving aside questions of its accuracy for the moment, however, it turns out that 60.8% of the respondents admit to cheating in college and, of those, only a little over a quarter admit to feeling guilty about it. Those are some sobering numbers, but I've got a few more for you:

-Cheaters have higher GPAs than non-cheaters. Cheaters: 3.37 Non-Cheaters: 2.85. Apparently, it would seem, cheating does pay.

-Less than 20% of the students who admit to cheating have been caught at it. The remainder have, apparently, gotten off scott-free.

-Of those who have been caught, only 7.1% claim that they then stopped cheating. The remainder claim that they continued cheating even after having been caught.

-45.9% of respondents say they permit others to cheat off of them.

-Of those, 77% allow others to cheat off of them for free, which can only be a bad sign for American capitalism. Then again, 12.2% claim that they allow others to cheat off of them in exchange for sex. Personally, I think a significant portion of that last group is made up of the fantasy-prone, but that's a side issue. The real point of this is that cheating is apparenty a team sport for college students.

And finally, we come to the result that's so awesome, I have to reproduce the graph:

Click the picture for a larger version.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen that's right: religious people appear to cheat more. I mean, I know they say that god helps those who help themselves, but c'mon!

It's difficult to know what to think about these findings except, of course, to be depressed by them. Personally, I think it's worth considering the comment helpfully provided for us in response to the realization that so many students cheat:

Right. Memorizing useless information. This points the way, I think, to our problems. Sure we're not working hard enough to catch cheaters and sure we're not punishing them adequately when we do, but we're also not convincing our students enough of the value of what we're teaching them. We in the academy are all fully convinced of the value of an advanced education- I mean, obviously- but I think we tend to forget that our students may not be. Particularly in the modern educational environment where standardized testing is king our students often get the idea that what matters is the grade on the transcript and not the learning in their heads. This is not just a shame, it's actually a national tragedy that will end up costing us. Hell, maybe it already has. I fear that at least part of the problem is that we, as teachers, are failing our students.

At the same time, however, I want to bring this discussion back to that little "percent stupid" test at the beginning of this post. I sometimes jokingly say that there's "stupid" and then there's "stoopid."*** If we, as instructors, are failing to do what's necessary for our students then we're being stupid. Our failings will inevitably come back and bite us all in our collective ass.

That said, our students are legal adults and, as such, are expected to be able to make their own decisions. By cheating they deny themselves the benefits**** of the very education they are here to obtain- and in the United States, the chance to earn a college degree is not a a privilege that's cheaply bought. Goofing off now, during this brief opportunity, will inevitably have consequences for our students. By squandering this chance they deprive themselves of long term benefits.

And that's just stoopid.

* Which is to say I saw it on Practicing Idealists's blog.

** Assuming that nobody out there submitted more than one survey. And leaving aside the possibility that one slacker told all his friends about the survey, and they told their friends, and so on. So, basically, the sample size is, in this case, not a reliable indicator of the accuracy of these data.

*** There's a particular pronunciation for "Stoopid" that you will surely figure out if you've ever seen Dexter's Laboratory.

**** Of course, I'm assuming that cheating is linked to working less hard to learn material. Anyone want to argue with me on that one?

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Blogger TDEC said...

The test does actually make me feel stoopid. But at least I earned my own grades.

Friday, June 01, 2007 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Really and truly, TDEC, I wouldn't put much stock in the test. Intelligence is a notoriously difficult concept to measure even when experts spend a lot of time validating their measurement tools. How accurate do you think a random internet survey is going to be?

Friday, June 01, 2007 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many planets did you pick? I picked 8, but then I wondered if the test thinks the right answer is 9. I just want to see what someone 10% less stupid than me answered.

Friday, June 01, 2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

Honestly I don't remember which I picked. I'm fairly certain I chose 8, but I could be wrong.

Friday, June 01, 2007 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger SARA said...

I took the test putting 8 for the number of planets.
TDEC-As drek says,I wouldn't put too much credence in a test like this. A person guessing may score high.
When they mentioned there were "trick " questions my antennae went up making me more analytical...had TIME been a factor with a buzzer going off, i think i would have scored a lot lower.

I've never thought multiple choice tests were a good indicator of a persons knowledge. Ive always preferred essay type questions.

Sunday, June 03, 2007 6:02:00 PM  

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