You see a student next to you cheating on an exam.

Vous voyez un étudiant à côté de vous qui triche lors d'un examen.

do nothing
do nothing, but hope that they get caught and disqualified
feel annoyed
Feel bad for the student.
I disapprove with an unfriendly look
I don't care.
I ignore it
I leave an anonymous note for the teacher asking him/her to look into the situation.
I pretend I didn't see anything, and I focus on my own exam
I probably wouldn't say anything, but I would wonder if I should, and worry about the consequences.
I would be annoyed, but would probably not do anything. They are hurting themselves more than anything I could do.
I would continue with my exam.
I would do nothing.
I would feel a little uncomfortable and make sure I wasn't doing anything to look suspicious. I might or might not tell the professor after the exam.
I would not let the student know I saw this. When I turn in my exam, I will include a note to the professor saying exactly what I saw, and make sure the prof. sees the note when I hand in the test. (If it is early on in the exam, I'll go up "to ask a question", and whisper quietly to the professor, or something.) Basically, I'd make damn sure the professor knew, and that I was discreet.
I would tell the professor following the exam
I would wonder why he is trying to cheat using me.
tell a teacher after the exam

ce n'est pas mon problème, il met tout seul son avenir en jeu
chacun son problème, si il de fait ca le regarde, et ca tombe bien car moi aussi j avais besoin d une réponse!!
désolation, mais après tout ce n'est pas mon problème.
Je considère qu'il fait sa vie et a le droit de risquer de se faire prendre.
je le laisse c'est sa vie, un jour ou l'autre il se fera coincer
je le laisse chaqu'un doit savoir ce qui est bon ou pas
je le plains, je trouve ça triste
je lui demande la reponse
je m'en fiche, s'il est content de réussir de cette maniè puis cela se retournera forcément contre lui un jour
je m'en fiche. Je ne le dénonce pas.
Je me dis juste "pauvre gars", s'il n'est pas capable de s'assumer tant pis pour lui, justice sera faite lorsque ce genre de subterfuges n'auront plus lieu d'être...
je ne fais rien.
Si ce n'est pas sur moi, c'est pas grave et puis c'est son problème !
ça ne m'inquiete pas tant qu'il ne pose pas de probleme à un tiers
ça tombe bien, c'est avec moi qu'il triche


Relative v/s absolute grades

Here is one hypothesis that tries to explain the different reactions from both sides. In the States grades are usually based on a
relative scale, meaning that the final grade you get depends on your performance with respect to all the other students. Then,
the fact that some people cheat might have a direct impact on your grade. In contrast, it seems that in France grades are
usually based on an absolute scale. Therefore whatever the other students do does not affect your personal academic situation.
Does this make sense?

Relative Scales

Actually, the scales are only really relative in College - prior to that they're generally fixed (though perhaps inflated). I believe
the disparity is more related to the values we hold - we highly value honesty and truthfulness. To be dishonest is to cheat the
system, which is designed to give everyone the opportunity to excell. If everyone else cheats, you have no chance of getting
ahead. Since getting ahead is supposed to be through hard honest work, someone who cheats is violating the code of ethics
that we strongly support. What do the french value most? I believe we saw a parallel to this with the friend who lied to you -
the US responses were highly unfavorable towards this person - they were dishonest.

Relative scales

Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec toi avec toutes les valeurs d'honnêteté, d'éthique, de véracité... Je ne peux qu'aquiescer tes
propos cependant du fait de la différence de système (absolu en France), la tricherie relève d'un aspect purement personnel
dans le sens où il n'affectera que le tricheur (heureusement d'ailleurs !) Personnellement, je ne peux pas concevoir de tricher
car cela mettrait en doute mes valeurs de travail, d'effort, de mérite et de fierté ! Après chacun son problème...

Juste un petit message

Juste un petit message pour soutenir Carolyne de Juvisy ( à lire Ju-vi-saïe en français). Voilà, bonne journée à tous.


What are the consequences in France of cheating on an exam? Here, they are pretty serious, because cheating violates the
code of ethics that Paul mentioned and having that mark against your honor can affect your life in more ways than simply failing
a test. Students need letters of recommendation for college and for other organizations, such as the National Honor Society, or
the scouting programs, and cheating on an exam rules out a lot of people you can ask to recommend you. In the case of the
Honor Society, an incident like that could get you thrown out altogether. Are there any parallels to that in France? What are
the consequences?


Many American claim they would turn someone in if they saw them cheating on an exam, but I would argue that such behavior
is not as common as it seems. At least as an undergraduate at MIT, I constantly witness (and occasionally partake in) copying
problem sets. It is no different than cheating, but on a smaller level, where the final grade is not as strongly affected by the
outcome. So from that observation, one could argue that the main situation in which Americans report cheaters is when there
are high stakes involved, and their grade could be affected. However, I also witness people studying together for important
exams all the time. Such behavior contradicts the competitive motivations that I just described, because they are helping others
achieve higher scores, and likewise maybe decreasing their comparative score. So perhaps students report cheaters on an
ethical basis? But as I just pointed out, no copying of problem sets is reported, and that is ethically the same thing as cheating
on a test. Then why, I ask, do the Americans claim they would report students that they saw cheating?


I think that copying problem sets is slightly different, because solving problem sets should serve more to help a person learn the
material rather than determine the final grade. So it seems to me that if you somebody copies your homework, they only
undermine themselves, and not gain very much unfair advantage. (But I'm not sure, I wasn't an undergrad here.) Also,
regarding the "competitiveness" issue, I think that studying together for exams doesn't contradict that idea at all. Just like
forming partnerships in a competitive business environment, which is beneficial for both parties, cooperation will exist even if
you are trying to beat the others. You are not cooperating with the whole class, but only with a selected few, and you improve
your own chances.

shadows of the past

I think that in Europe there is a certain amount of cynicism towards honesty and ethical behavior in public affairs. There have
been periods in history when it wasn't exactly the honest and trustworthy who were rewarded for their efforts. Often those
who spoke of honesty in a lofty way were those to be trusted the least. Maybe there is a feeling lingering in the society that
more than relying on ideals of ethics, it serves one better to develop mechanisms of support within a social group, such as the
student body. This is often quite counterproductive, as in the case of cheating, let alone cases like corruption in business. I can't
speak much about France, but certainly in many European countries, it is considered more despicable to report on somebody
cheating than to actually cheat.

Telling the Teacher

What was really interesting to me, as was already noted by some others in the forum, was the fact that no one on the French
side said that they would tell the teacher if they saw someone cheating. I think I agree with Nicholas' point that it also
uncommon for an America, in practice, to "tattletale" on someone else. However, there were at least some people who said
they would report the cheating to the teacher. I was wondering, why do you think it is that no one on the French side said they
would tell the teacher? Is it to avoid the image of being the teacher's pet (le chouchou)? Or is there some sort of peer pressure
that might exists which discourages one student from reporting another? I know that both of these factors play a role in
American schools and contribute to why some people would decide not to report the incident. Is this the case in France, as
well? Or is it simply that one always assumes that "someone else will do it"?

Someone else's problem?

As many other people observed in the forum, no one, absolutely no one on the French side actually felt the need to report the
person for cheating. I'm wondering, just how important are tests in France? Because I would assume that, if they're important,
some people would be willing to report them. And that leads to the competitive are the students in France? I
hear varying reports from, "It's really competitive," to "Competition? What competition?" And also, how strict are the laws in
the schools of France about cheating? Does that include plagiarism and copyrights? What is the punishment should a student
be caught cheating?

too scared to talk now?

Caroline, thanks for all your comments. I agree with your perspective about cheating, and you have a point when you feel
disappointed about other people cheating. The problem is that, after all your explanations, your classmates that don't think like
you will be too scared to say anything in the forum. From the original reactions to the situation it seemed that some French
students didn't consider cheating as something so terrible... Why are they not making any comments now?

european defense

I agree completely with Sergi. If I can say something for the European side too (but I would be really happy to hear from the
French), it seems to me that in Europe there is a different feeling of balance in school. It's more like "us against them", an
alliance of students to survive the hardships of education. :-) Of course there is competition hidden underneath, but primarily
you want to maintain good relations with your classmates. There is no way you would report on somebody else, unless you
really desire to stay alone in the jungle. Maybe bizarre, but that's how it works, and there might be historical reasons as I wrote
earlier. But then I come from a post-communist country, so my perspective might be different.

Copying PSETs

I suppose I've really have only been aware of copying problem sets in freshman and some sophomore classes, usually where
there were large groups of close friends taking the class such that they'd be willing to "do their friend a favor" - all be it that the
favor is really a disfavor. It quite a bit harder to report a friend than just a random other student in the class. I don't think I've
ever heard of someone getting reported, though I do know of a few people who were caught copying psets by the professor.
So I suppose I'm saying that I think less people would actually report someone than have said they would. Are there similar
trends in France? Are there certain classes or certain years of study where cheating is more common?


En France, si un élève est "pris la main dans le sac", il sera certainement interdit de concours et d'examens pendant 5 ans. Cela
signifie qu'un plus de ne pas pouvoir obtenir de diplome durant cette période, il n'aura pas le droit non plus de passer son
permis de conduire.


I am utterly amazed by Caroline's comment. It's hard to imagine a school in which students would feel betrayed if another
student turned them in for cheating. And it's really hard to understand the teacher vs student mentality. Sure, the teachers give
quizzes, tests and homework...but it's understood that that's their job. And many students I know are great friends with their
professors. I know that one of my favorite things to do after school (back when I was in junior high and high school, of course)
would be to stay back and chat about life, class, art, whatever with the professor. Are there any instances in which students
become friends with their professors? And, in that instance, if they should turn a fellow student in for cheating, how will others
look upon him/her, in light of his/her relationship with the professor? Or is that totally unheard of?


Je suppose qu'en France le lien d'autorité (presque hiérarchique) entre élèves/étudiants et les professeurs est plus marqué
qu'aux USA. Pour ma part, j'ai souvent développé des liens amicaux avec mes professeurs mais généralement ce n'était pas
par rapport à la matière qu'ils enseignaient mais plus avec des activtés extra-scolaires (associations sportives, artistiques ou le
journal interne...) où l'on prenait le temps de se conniatre, de discuter... Disons que le lien élève/enseignant étant moins marqué
car les positions de chacun étaient plus mutuelles dans l'interactivité de l'apport, comme une sorte d'échange d'égal à égal. Plus
que le respect, il y a la crainte que ressentent certains élèves et peut-être aussi le manque d'intérêt mutuel. Certains profs ne
sont pas très expensifs ou communicatifs ! Leur "non avenance" n'incite pas à communiquer avec eux sur des sujets d'actualité
ou plus personnels. J'ai remarqué aussi que lorsque des liens se développent, il y a souvent un intérêt commun, une passion qui
rapproche, une façon de penser ou juste un intérêt (qui n'a pas eu de prof un peu mentor, maître à penser qui prenait le temps
de discuter ou de faire parler, de mettre en lumière la pensée de son élève...). Je crois aussi que l'attitude de l'élève ou du prof
suggère plus ou moins l'ouverture de celui-ci. Je trouve souvent les élèves peu matures, peu ouverts aux personnes plus âgées
ou possédant le "savoir". Je ne sais pas si c'est de la jalousie, de la peur ou la crainte de se mélanger !! Le ragrd des autres
élèves est certainement pesant, et comme je le disais précédemment, le fait de parler avec un prof nous fait passer pour le
fayot, le dissident ! Ce n'est effectivement pas parce que l'

relationnel (suite)

Ce n'est effectivement pas parce que l'on discute avec quelqu'un ou que l'on fait un bout de chemin ensemble pour rentrer chez
soi qu'on essaie de soudoyer de meilleures notes !!! C'est pourquoi je comprend et suis d'accord avec les propos de
Katherine. Mais la relation "privilégiée" que l'on peut entretenir avec un professeur ne doit jamais transparaître lorsque l'on est
en classe au risque de subir les foudres des camarades (jalousie ?). Il est alors amusant de constater le double jeu qui s'opère
parfois (alternance vouvoiement/tutoiement...) !! Ce commentaire sur le relationnel s'établissant entre prof/étudiant ne change
en rien le rapport à la tricherie (ne jamais dénoncer !). On peut en parler mais ne pas citer de nom se révèle la règle de base !