Last night my class had their midterm. I wasn't there to administer the test as I had called in sick earlier in the day. I'm still sick, but I hate to miss more than one day so I came back tonight only to hear from my assistant that there had been a major issue last night. There was a cheating incident. My assistant actually saw one of the students handing a completed exam back to another student.
Their tests are far from identical and I don't think much copying could have happened before the problem was discovered but I wonder why anyone felt it was necessary. One of these students has been with me for a while and finally agreed to individual tutoring this term. He's been making fantastic progress and I can't understand why he felt the need to cheat.
The irony is that none of my exams even carry any weight until the final exam where they demonstrate their readiness for the next level of classes. This is far from "high stakes" testing, but I do like to get them familiar with testing mode. And that does mean doing your own work.
Most of the time I encourage collaboration in my classes. The students have much to teach each other. But testing is different. The boys will be getting a stern talking to in Russian. I'm not sure what else to do--I don't want to humiliate them, but I feel like there's a need to further clarify classroom expectations. Hopefully they'll get the message clearly so there will be no trouble come final exam time.