Human & Animal Behavioral Science

The research project, Academic Misconduct in High School Course Syllabi (HS-HABS-419), consisted of two studies. The project’s purpose is to make syllabi the most effective they could be in deterring students from engaging in academic misconduct.

I hypothesized that 1) teachers would mention punishments and consequences of engaging in academic misconduct rather than integrity and citizenship and 2) specific examples and reasons other than punishment would stand out to students.

Study 1 consisted of gathering thirty syllabi from various courses at MSJHS. I marked down the elements they contained specific to cheating and plagiarism. The seven elements were 1) mentions of cheating, 2) mentions of plagiarism, 3) definitions of cheating, 4) definitions of plagiarism, 5) specific examples of academic misconduct, 6) punishments of engaging in academic misconduct, and 7) reasons other than punishment. Using all of these elements, I drafted a syllabus for Physics and another for English.

Study 1’s results showed 73.3% of teachers mentioning their policy/punishment on academic misconduct. A mere 6.6% percent defined cheating in their syllabi. More Humanities course syllabi mentioned plagiarism versus STEM. 100% of Humanities syllabi mentioned punishments whereas only 58.3% of STEM mentioned the same.

Study 2 consisted of a series of surveys being given to a group of volunteers. Participants read the syllabi drafts were given a recall test for the information present afterwards. After filling out the recall test, participants received a student opinions survey rating from 1 (least) to 5 (most) how effective each element was in deterring them from engaging in academic misconduct.

Study 2’s results showed the perception of various elements in the syllabi. Students remembered mentions of punishments the most and mentions of plagiarism the least. For the student opinions survey, the highest average score was 3.166/5 for specific examples. The lowest was 2.4166/5 for definitions of academic misconduct.

The results showed that students remembered mentions of punishment the most but believed that specific examples deterred them from cheating the most. These factors can be used in modern-day syllabi, making them increasingly effective in high school courses.

Phones: A Social and Emotional Examination

At our school everyone has a phone, and that is no hyperbole. Almost everywhere high schoolers go, they take their iphones with them. This apparent “phone addiction” in schools must certainly have some sort of effect on students. This experiment examines the social and emotional effects that phones have on the lives of the high school students that use them. This is extremely pertinent in this day and age where nearly every kid has a device. Even though kids may think they have phones figured out, their little devices have a crazy amount of power. Participants’ phones were looked through and we determined how many hours per day and per week they spent on their phones. Our hypothesis stated that participants with higher usage times would exhibit higher levels of depression and social isolation. In order to test the mental health or emotional state of students, we gave out, with the help of the counselors at our school, baseline mental health tests to look for feelings of depression in the student body. The tests were graded on a scale from 0-27, 27 being extremely severe depression. These tests came back with a variety of scores, ranging from quite low to surprisingly high. Because of this testing some students that scored very high found help with our counselors. And, in most cases, the higher scores came with more hours on phones. Similarly, tests that looked for levels of social support/isolation also correlated higher scores with more phone time. In short, our hypothesis was proved, by these tests, to be true. With our experiment, we have found an easily applicable method to help students with depression, and three students who wish to remain unnamed who sought help with the counselors came back to us and thanked us, as they started putting their phones down and saw improvements in every area of their lives.

The purpose of this experiment is to inform people of the potential benefits or disadvantages of performing a stressful task when a competitive aspect is introduced. It is hypothesized that the noncompetitive group, the group that was not shown the leaderboard, will have better test scores than the competitive group, the group that was shown the leaderboard. If we show the competitive group the leaderboard, there will not be a measurable difference between the two group’s test scores and any difference is unrelated to the leaderboard. First, the participants were divided into two groups. One group was the controlled portion of the experiment, that group was not shown a leaderboard. The other group was shown the leaderboard filled with five competitive times the participants were trying to surpass. The test was filled with advanced math problems made to challenge the participants. During the test, the participants of the noncompetitive group were showing slight signs of stress such as finger tapping, hair twisting, and surprised expressions. Meanwhile, in another room, the competitive group showed shocked expressions when given the test, looked at the timer often, and asked questions about how to solve simple problems. As a result, the competitive group had a higher average score of approximately 53% accuracy. The non-competitive group scored an average of 36%. In Conclusion, the competitive aspect of the experiment helped improved test scores, proving a healthy amount of competition may be beneficial to test takers.