'Seeing the hats made by my classmates was hilarious. The mood inside the classroom changed from intense to exciting.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 30, 2022. It has since been updated.
Teachers often try to find ways to prevent students from cheating, especially since students returned to school after being at home for years during the lockdowns. Professor Mary Joy Mandane-Ortiz, an engineering instructor at the Bicol University College of Engineering in Legazpi City in the Philippines, was extremely worried about what to do to prevent cheating in her classroom, according to NBC. Her students were about to have several engineering and computing exams on October 17 and 18, 2022, when she stumbled across an interesting idea as she was browsing Facebook.
ANTI-CHEATING HATS?? NO WAYY😭😂😂 pic.twitter.com/QvfTC7dcte— doreeeeenn🤪🇬🇭 (@dr_doreeeeenn) October 24, 2022
Two days before the exams, she asked her students to create “anti-cheating hats.” The professor explained to the students that they would be putting on headwear to prevent them from looking at other students' papers. The students constructed their own devices out of recyclable materials including cardboard, egg cartons and other items.
The BBC's interview with their teacher revealed that she had been searching for a "fun approach" to ensure "integrity and honesty" in her lectures. Mechanical engineering professor Mary Joy Mandane-Ortiz of Bicol University College of Engineering claimed the concept had been "very effective." Professor Mandane-Ortiz stated that her initial directive had been for students to create a "simple" paper design.
She remarked, “They accepted the challenge without any complaints,” adding that she was extremely impressed by the innovation her students displayed in creating the masks. These exams were their first in a classroom after taking online assessments for more than two years due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The students created amazingly creative hats. One of the students created a mask representing the popular show "Money Heist," while another student created one entirely out of egg crates. A student put tubes over his eyes to create tunnel vision. Many students went all out, with anime character getups, wigs and decorated boxes. But the one that took the cake was a student wearing a simple motorcycle helmet.
“I was quite nervous at first,” shared 21-year-old Marc Louise Pelaez, a student who wore a handmade hat during the exam. “Seeing the hats made by my classmates was hilarious. The mood inside the classroom changed from intense to exciting.” The student expressed that the hats served as a fun activity which made the stressful act of exams much more enjoyable. “I really enjoyed the activity, and I’m looking forward to our final exam in December,” he said.
Mandane-Ortiz described the strategy as "very effective," noting that several of her students finished their tests ahead of schedule and that no one had been caught plying their trade this year. She claimed to be reading about the implementation of a related concept by a university in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, in 2013. Following the posting of pictures of their hats on social media by her students, some of whom quickly raked up thousands of likes, the story was taken up by the media, just as it had been in Thailand. “I believe the students will never forget this. In the future, I am planning to try it again,” Mandane-Ortiz said.
They apparently also gave other schools and colleges around the nation the idea to push their own students to create anti-cheating headwear. Prof. Mandane-Ortiz claimed that this year's tutees did better because they were inspired to work harder on their studies by the demanding exam conditions. She went on to say that several of them completed their exams ahead of time and that no one was caught this year cheating. "I'm very proud of them. I'm very happy because they're very talented students. It's supposed to be that the exam is stressful and fearful, but they made it more funny and wonderful. That's why they excelled on our exam," she told The Washington Post.