Friday, July 6, 2018

"Embracing the Kobayashi Maru: Why You Should Teach Your Students to Cheat"


Our variation of the Kobayashi Maru utilized a deliberately unfair exam - write the first 100 digits of pi (3.14159...) from memory and took place in the pilot offering of a governmental cyber warfare course. The topic of the test itself was somewhat arbitrary; we only sought a scenario that would be too challenging to meet through traditional studying. By design, students were given little advance warning for the exam. Insurrection immediately followed. Why were we giving them such an unfair exam? What conceivable purpose would it serve? Now that we had their attention, we informed the class that we had no expectation that they would actually memorize the digits of pi, we expected them to cheat. How they chose to cheat was entirely up to the student. Collaborative cheating was also encouraged, but importantly, students would fail the exam if caught. To provide additional incentive, we offered a prize to the student who exhibited the most creative and effective cheating technique.


Another just memorized the first ten digits of pi and randomly filled in the rest, assuming the instructors would be too lazy to check every digit. His assumption was correct.