November 25, 2010

Do Cheaters Win in College?

new janis By Janis Prince Inniss

clip_image002As you head into finals, are you planning to cheat? Just enough to pass your class? Or to get an A? Just enough to boost your grade a tad? Should the likelihood—or not—that you will get caught impact whether or not you cheat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the majority, as 61 percent of undergraduate college students admit to cheating.

Academic dishonesty is on my mind because I’ve just read a troubling account in the Chronicle of Higher Education of a “shadow scholar”: someone who makes a living writing papers, theses, and exams for college students and entrance essays for those seeking to enter universities. I’ve long been aware that this service exists and I have worked with at least one person whose ignorance suggested that his doctorate was obtained with the services of such a person, but it was still chilling to read details about this person’s work.

Also in the news is the case of University of Central Florida Professor Richard Quinn. Comparing data between his summer and fall classes, Professor Quinn noticed that the fall class scored about one and a half letter grade higher than his summer class—a first in ten years teaching this capstone business course. Professor Quinn received an anonymous tip that about a third of his 600 students had made use of a test bank (which has answers!).

The professor has been receiving some publicity for his speech to students detailing the violation; he offered amnesty to cheaters who confessed and agreed to take an ethics seminar. In the speech, the professor describes himself as “physically ill” and “absolutely disgusted” by the cheaters. Meantime, his assistants have recreated the midterm—without the aid of test banks—and every student in the course was required to retake it.

Here is an interview of one of the students who says that he thought he was reviewing a study guide, and therefore had no idea that he was cheating.  

Researchers conclude that students cheat because their peers do. As they point out, today’s students face a highly competitive world and try to take every advantage to receive top grades. In this context, recognizing that their peers are cheating and reaping the benefits of good grades without the requisite work, students do not want to be, or feel, that they are at a disadvantage. As earlier researchers in this field pointed out, social learning theory helps us make sense of this: we model our behavior based on what we observe. If “everyone is doing it’, then it’s normal, right?

Universities continue to try to outwit students bent on cheating their way through college. In fact, the same university at which Professor Quinn teaches was the subject of a New York Times article on the high tech ways to colleges are attempting to thwart would-be cheats. Of course, one of the issues that we expect will impact cheating is faculty response to the problem. I received my first clue that faculty do not necessarily respond as they should or could when I was a teaching assistant in graduate school. I discovered that two students had plagiarized large passages of a book in their term papers. The passages were lifted straight out of the assigned readings! I expected that the professor would be as outraged as I was—both at the offense and that the students didn’t even bother to find books they thought we were unfamiliar with from which to copy. As I recall, the university policy was that cheating students would receive an “F” in the course and possibly face other disciplinary proceedings.

So what did the professor do to the culprits? He gave them each a “C” and the case did not go to the university administration. So while clip_image004clip_image006some of us bemoan the lack of student effort to match the demands for a good grade, many faculty and university administration —either directly or indirectly—are complicit in this game. If faculty look away at student cheating—as happened with the professor and the two plagiarists—what message does that send to students? And if department chairs and university administration over-rule faculty who drop the ax on students, what message does that send to students? Like other entities, universities are conscious not to offend their ‘customers’ and many will do anything but upset their students, including condoning cheating.

There are many other relevant issues that are worth their own discussion so keep an eye on the blog for related posts. Meantime, some issues to consider: If and when you cheat in class, who are you cheating? Yourself ? Society? Your parents? Your classmates? Ultimately, are you cheating yourself of an education, and if so what does that mean?


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The author definately portrayed a very strong message to the readers of this article. I am a junior in high school and I see things like this everyday, unfortunately. If it's not somebody else looking over their own shoulder, it is somebody asking if they can copy last night's homework. I do not fall into this trap, nor do i plan to in college. My ethics tell me that cheating does not only cheat the teachers, but yourself in the long run. Especially in college this is relevant. You or your parents are paying for you to get a quality education, and therefore, you should try to work hard, not work hard off of your friend's paper. Thus, the answer to the topic of this article is no, Cheaters do not win. They may win with a letter, but the moral soul of that person does not carry a winner. The author definately sent a message that should be read by every student.

The author of this passage is obviously dead set against cheating. I agree that it is a problem in high school as well as college because I myself, attending the number 1 academically ranked school in the state of Michigan, have seen it at first hand. I believe that the competition of school becomes more important to the students than the actual learning aspect of school. However, my school has a very strict policy when it comes to cheating and which is the reason why I think that it is less common at my school than others. Our teachers make us earn our good grades which is how it should be. That is what the author and I agree on.

The last paragraph of this post holds true wisdom. When you cheat on a test, you are cheating yourself. Sure, you get a good grade, or a better one, but you aren't learning anything. No one is going to get good grades on everything, and cheating just ensures that you will never learn the material.
What does it mean to cheat yourself? If you continue, you will not succeed. Therefore, you cheat society out of a thinking brain, which is a shame. It is a dominoe effect--you cheat, you cheat yourself, then your family, your society, your country.
In a society that is becoming increasingly innovative, memorizing the answers does not cut in any more. You must find your own answers, truly think about it, and come up with new solutions. Cheating is stupid, and by doing it, you become more and more stupid.

I read about a blog a week, and am usually not very happy to be reading it, but as I started to read this I actaully started to enjoy it and found it very interesting and intriguing. I am one of the students in my class who is totally against cheating. Those kids areonly hurting themselves by cheating. What is even more ridiculous is the professors and teacher that do NOTHING about it. It is absolutely unacceptable.

Cheating, to everyone, is a negative thing. The person doing it may not think it is negative because they are just trying to help their grade but in the long run students will feel the effects cheating had on their lives. You must educate yourself by learning the material rather than getting the grade by writing down someone else's ideas. Their imagination is much different than yours no matter how alike you may view things between yourselves. I too see a lot of cheating going on in my high school. Being a high school senior, it angers me that my classmates cheat. Some of these classmates of mine could be above me in they class but truthfully they did not learn anything. I agree with your outlook on cheating and feel that students who participate in such an action should pay the consequences regardless.

I think that in todays society, our teens have become lazy, they lack ambition to succeed on their own. Instead of doing their own work they try copying others in order to keep their own grades up. Our schools should try making it harder to copy and cheat and start seperating students more and giving different tests to each.

I also believe that many students resort to cheating, only because it helps them gain an easy grade, and it is a lot faster to help pass a class. I do not condone it, or approve of it, but it is interesting to see how many students admit to cheating, but imagine the number that do not admit to it?

I agree with the author of this post that there is no excuse for cheating. If a student can't even be counted on to do their own work and what is necessary for the course they are enrolled in, then there is no excuse for them to even be there wasting the teacher's time. Ultimately, when you cheat in class, you are only cheating yourself. If you make it through your class and don't get caught, then you are going to have to apply the knowledge that you "learned" in your class to your job when you get out into the world. If you didn't learn anything because you were cheating, then you will struggle finding or keeping a job. You're cheating everybody. You're cheating your parents, who are paying for you to get an education. You're cheating your classmates, many of whom probably worked hard to get the grade you cheated for. You're cheating your university by not actually trying to learn their material. Basically, cheating will get you nowhere, and all that you will end up doing is make things worse for yourself.

I was stunned to learn that so many college students admit to cheating. I do understand that students face many challenges in college but to me, that’s something we face in the real world. Teachers give tests for a reason. If you cheat, then you never really learn the material. A common issue is when teachers give final exams that are comprehensive on the material. If you cheat on the first few tests and take the final exam, chances are that you will once again cheat on the final or just simply not know the material that you had to get “help” with a few months earlier. I would think it would just be easier to memorize the material the first time. Typically if you study it and understand it, you won’t have to cheat. You won’t run the risk of getting caught and getting an F or worse, kicked out of college. Then we deal with the issue of morals. We are taught early on in school to not cheat on tests, homework or whatever other assignments the teachers give. This is to prepare us for college life. It could be argued that cheating students lack the morals we are taught for so long. So many feel that cheating is to help them maintain that A or get enough of a good grade so they don’t have to repeat the class another semester. They feel like if their friend did it and got away with it, it would be fine. Today’s college students are much different than they were when I started college 11 years ago. I see fewer study groups, tutoring and teacher assistance now than I did back in 1999. I can see why students would be so tempted to cheat. With company recruiters wanting college transcripts, students don’t want to show a C on transcripts. The working world is getting competitive and so many times it does come down to grades. I firmly believe that students are more capable of doing well than what they give themselves credit. It’s just a matter of being lazy.

I'm not going to lie: I've cheated before. In eighth grade, me and my best friend had purposely sat next to each other during a big test. The night before we had each studied half the information so that the next day during the test we could tell each other the other half. Every thing had been going fine until my teacher saw my friend looking at my paper. We had both suffered some pretty harsh consequences in school and out of school. We both received a failing grade for the test, and were completely embarrassed when our parents found out. Now a senior in high school, I can honestly say that the experience was traumatic enough for me that I have not cheated since. The consequences I had to go through for my actions was enough to keep me from cheating again. Using myself as an example, I believe that if we teach or children from a young age that cheating is clearly wrong and that there are harsh consequences, cheating throughout college will become less and less frequent.

I think families have an influence on whether students cheat or not. Sure there's the way they were raised and the punishment they received if they cheated. But I think it goes further than that. Some students may cheat because they want to please their parents. Parents may pressure their children too much, unhappy if the child receives anything lower than a B on a test. If this is the case, the child may do whatever it takes to please the parents. Also it could be sibling competition, or classmate competition: trying to be the best there is. I hate the idea of cheating. Its true, you really are cheating yourself of an education, and the earlier you start, the more tragic the reality that cheating will get you nowhere.

Cheating seems to be a hot topic of discussion these days, and it is easy to recognize why students do it. These days in high school, the competition is much greater than it has been in the past, and many colleges only care to see perfect GPA's and ACT scores. The student in the video on this blog who confessed to cheating but said it was unintentional is under what seems to be an unfair punishment. The student said he was not aware that what he was reading was the actual test, but instead a study guide. Students should not be punished for a misunderstanding, and regardless the students are learning the information anyway, what difference does it make if they do it in a way that is easier. If a teacher is truly trying to teach, they make opportunities for their students, and such an opportunity as a study guide should be available. Under most circumstances is cheating alright, but if it is unintentional, there needs to be some reconsideration. The college professor in this article just seemed far to angry and did not take a chance to look at the whole situation without a clear mind.

By allowing college students, or any students for that matter, to cheat, it’s serving a negative latent function. Those who cheat and get away with it are receiving the message from teachers that cheating in school is okay. This could transfer into real-life situations, causing serious problems. Would you really want a brain surgeon to be operating on you if the surgeon didn’t know what he was doing because he cheated his way through his education? Teachers should know better than to ignore the problem.

Cheating it definitely a common thing in the classroom, whether it be college or high school. I suppose the majority of students cheat is to merely get a better grade. An "open classroom," that is, a class not based on competition and grades, seems to be a good solution for this little problem doesn't it? Too bad the only reason some students want to get grades is because of the competition ivolved in school.

I feel schools and colleges do allow students to cheat. They do not encourage it. However, they do choose to ignore it. I think they think the student will grow out of it or feel bad and admit to their actions. This is the wrong response to this situation. The student then gets the idea that cheating is okay.

Honestly, i just left my chemistry lecture and overheard a girl who told her friend she knew all the answers to the upcoming exam. Because she has the lab section afternoon and i have morning lab, she had time to snoop around and find the answers. It really bothers me that people get the advantage over others like this, bullshit

This was a very good post. I have to say that it really made me think. Your right, they are cheating themselves of an education because they are not learning what they need to be yet they are getting passed on because they have a 'good' grade. It is unfair to the people who are not cheating because they are the people who are really doing the work and they actually know what is going on in the classroom setting. I find it sad that the college student got in trouble when he really thought that it was a study guide. Although there could be a chance that he was lying I think that he was being pretty truthful.

I agree, cheating is not an option for a kid who's willing to learn. There are a lot of options for a kid who's having a hard time studying. A parent can hire a tutor or buy a reviewer on the specific topic a child is having difficulties in.

Cheating does not help anyone. Professors should choose a type of classroom that would benefit everyone. As mentioned before, he had an open classroom. Sometimes this approach may work, but not all the time. Professors need to be strict sometimes. No, not all the time. But sometimes.

Cheating is not a good thing but is there a way to have a classroom that teaches while eliminating the high presure for grades.

For applicants who have a low GPA the selection process in the school or the university is important like nothing else. As statistics shows 8% of applicants with a GPA 3.0 and lower are accepted by top 10 schools, so the only way out for them will be explanation letter for the low GPA.
Sometimes a single one semester can become a real obstacle for getting the good GPA rate as practice shows. In such case, the difference between grades is clearly visible and can be proven but it is better to address it in a polite way, giving the explanation in a formal manner without excessive emotions. In the case of personal reasons, the explanation could defend your low grades for only one semester, for the larger period it can turn against you.

I wrote the article specifically for the problem of students who struggle with low GPA where you can find the valuable advice and look through the valuable samples of how to explain your low grades, I hope it helps someone

This amounts to academic fraud

cheating is lack of integrity.

cheating does not help. its just shortcut, hard work, honesty win

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