Engeström describes how "cheating is contestation of the given activity system of school-going," and then not only gives us visual examples of vernacular cheat sheets, but also discusses his clever pedagogical response to what he learns from this kind of writing.
Engeström's pedagogical uptake from this research is not to militate against cheating in obvious, confrontational or prohibitive ways, but to teach about cheating as literate practice. He writes:
"Cheating is an important form of student agency. By creating and using a cheating slip, the student controls his or her own behavior with the help of a tool he or she made. The hard part is the construction of a good cheating slip—the design phase or the 'closure part' of the agentic action."
From this, I can see a useful assignment in which students cover a lot of material and create a cheat sheet that is then explained and assessed in lieu of an exam or final paper.
This kind of response reminds me very powerfully of Mike's plagiarism assignment that, instead of approaching plagiarism confrontationally, sees it as a complex practice that can be most productively militated against by getting inside it and figuring it out as literate activity.
I mentioned, in my last post on cheat sheets, that one thing that interests me about them is their status as disposable writing (and found Friday is fast approaching!), and in that way cheat sheets are similar to electronic forms of cheating (texting during an exam, e.g.) in that both forms of writing are expressly for one rhetorical accomplishment—the test—and valueless after that moment.