TV-report : Lower Austria today, 16-08-2016, Jammer in Prisons

Every tenth pupil cheats by smartphone

Meckenheim, 30 October 2015

Smartphones are not only ubiquitous in pupils’ private life, but also in school life. In a survey published at the beginning of this year by the German digital industry association BITKOM 92 per cent of the pupils aged from 14 to 19 answered that they regularly take their mobile phones into school. Every tenth of them also admitted to taking advantage of them for cheating.

In order to tackle the problem and to restore equal opportunities in exams, many schools meanwhile have adopted a general ban on mobile phones. Accordingly, pupils are required to put away their mobile devices and to switch them off during school time. This applies all the more during exams and tests that, today, are often starting with the teachers on supervision duty centrally collecting all pupils’ mobile phones.

The problem, however, is still far from solved. The cover of mobile phones lies in fact at more than 100 per cent, states the German Teachers’ association. The trend is rather moving towards students having a second mobile device, with the no longer used predecessor model being handed out to the teacher at the beginning of the exams. The fact is, however, that those pupils who get caught, get an E, no matter whether the phone was actually used for cheating or not.

UK schools’ study evidences the positive impact of mobile phone bans

A study conducted by the Centre for Economic Performance of the London School of Economics published in May this year supports the claim that mobile phone bans undeniably go in the right direction. The survey looked at the test scores of 16 year olds at schools in four British cities before and after mobile phone bans were introduced. The schools involved saw test scores rise by an average of 6.41 per cent, with low-achieving and low income students improving the most (more than 14 per cent, and hence gaining twice as much).

German Teachers‘ association claims the technical upgrade of schools

These results lead to the conclusion that with bringing mobile phones into school pupils are distracted from lessons and tempted to cheat on exams. But what would be the best solution to the constantly growing problem of the misuse of mobile phones in schools?

The fact that body searches of pupils are prohibited and even more so the fact that WC areas that the examinees are allowed to use during the tests, are not controllable, causes schools and universities to remain helpless. The latter are equally affected by the problem since lectures, too, are to end with an exam. Hereby the institutions are regularly facing examination scenarios with several hundreds of students, packed in huge auditoriums, supervised by one professor and, at very most, one assistant at his side. Who wants to find out here whether the single student’s eyes are actually focusing on the test papers rather than the smartwatch on the wrist? Control is no longer possible under these conditions.

For Heinz-Peter Meidinger, the Head of the German Teachers‘ association, which is the umbrella organization of all educational institutions preparing for higher education, it is hence obvious that schools and universities must be upgraded and converted, and not just with regard to audit methodology (abandoning of mere multiple choice tests), but also technologically.

So far there are only few schools in Germany that have opted for technological measures and have installed mobile detection and elimination techniques. Meidinger: „They will have to become more, no doubt about that.“


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Sources and subject-related articles: (2015) Fast alle Schüler nehmen ihr Handy mit in die Schule, Presseinformation vom 17.02.2015; (2015) Jeder zehnte Schüler spickt mit dem Smartphone, Meldung vom 18.02.2015; Doward, Jamie: „Schools that ban mobile phones see better academic results“, in: The Guardian, Meldung vom 16.05.2015; (2015) Mobile phone bans improve school exam results, Meldung vom 17.05.2015; Staben, Kerstin: „Schummeln im smarten Klassenzimmer“, in: NDR Nachrichten, Meldung vom 20.05.2015; Kohlmaier, Matthias: „Handyverbot hilft leistungsschwachen Schülern“, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Meldung vom 28.05.2015; Vitzthum, Thomas Sebastian: „Smartes Schummeln – Schulen und Hochschulen stehen durch die Smartwatch vor Herausforderungen“, in: Die Welt, Meldung vom 25.06.2015; Okolosie, Lola: „Keep mobile phones out of the classroom“, in: The Guardian, Meldung vom 01.09.2015; Weale, Sally: „Mobile phones‘ impact on lessons coming unter scrutiny“, in: The Guardian, Meldung vom 13.09.2015; Ross, Tim: „Mobile phones and iPads could be banned from classrooms", in: The Telegraph, Meldung vom 13.09.2015