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Cheating by Students in English Tests in Private Schools in the UAE: Cheating Techniques and Teacher/Administrator Responses

Al Jawabreh, Huda
A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Huda Al Jawabreh Entitled, "Cheating by Students in English Tests in Private Schools in the UAE: Cheating Techniques and Teacher/Administrator Responses," December 2009. Available are both Hard and Soft Copies of the Thesis.
Cheating has recently become an increasingly discussed problem in the field of academia. It is a common behavior of some students at schools, which concerns ESL/EFL teachers in educational settings. Cheating has developed into a great "science" for some students, and English teachers might be shocked to know how commonly it occurs in their classes without their knowledge. They would greatly benefit by knowing more about cheating which has a very destructive influence on students, therefore affecting their future. Despite the rich research that has been done so far in this area, few studies have been done on cheating on ESL/EFL assessments, and particularly, little research has addressed the techniques that students use here in the United Arab Emirates in their English classes or their English teachers' responses towards such dishonest actions. This research investigated the techniques students used to cheat in English tests in some secondary schools in the UAE, and how EFL teachers in these schools responded towards such acts. Also addressed were the school administrators' procedures taken against cheating students. The methods used were questionnaires, interviews and observations. Three questionnaires were distributed to 51 students, 16 EFL teachers and 17 school administrators. The students' questionnaire mainly focused on cheating techniques used by other students. In the teachers' questionnaire, the questions were about cheating techniques detected by teachers and how they tried to prevent them and respond to them when detected. The administrators' questionnaire investigated the procedures taken against this dishonest behavior. The on-site observations were of administration of some actual English tests at some secondary schools here in the Emirates. Student volunteers were interviewed about cheating techniques that they have observed and/or used, and some teachers were interviewed about the techniques that students used to cheat and how they would respond if such an action were to take place in their classrooms. The findings showed many different techniques used by cheating students. Some of these techniques were technological such as I Pods, cell phones, wireless ear pieces, magic ink, etc. Others were unexpected like writing on body parts or using very inventive signals. The research also found more new procedures that teachers and administrators took to prevent and respond to cheating techniques. These findings would be useful for English teachers who might encounter cheating.
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