A student’s web of lies
A startling trend has emerged in recent years: as the internet has increased in popularity, students have found new and more effective ways to cheat. According to a 2011 survey completed by the International Center for Academic Integrity, out of 70,000 American high school students 64% confessed to cheating on a test, 58% plagiarized, and 95% had copied answers on homework or other assignments. The data has risen 80% from just two years prior.
Cheating figures from the same study decrease slightly among college students, but only diminish to a little over 40% even among graduate students. Not only is academic dishonesty on the rise, but recently has been shown to be habit-forming.
A Harvard study demonstrated students are significantly more likely to cheat again following their first offense, and feel much less guilt at doing so. This desensitizing can, and often does, lead to a repetition of the behavior.
According to a student quoted in the New York Times, “[Cheating] was kind of addictive, in a bad way, in a sick way. People will assume, well, I have a 92, most kids who got into that school got a 94, so there’s no way I can get in.” As pressure increases on students to get good grades and accepted into a good college, many students are turning to cheating to get ahead. Even at PV, 74% of seniors self-reported they had cheated on something at least once, according to a May 2018 survey by the Spartan Shield.
One anonymous student explained some of the pressures behind cheating: “I think people are overworked and over stressed but are under an immense amount of pressure…it isn’t possible to meet all of the expectations without sacrificing your integrity sometimes.”
With pressures on students continuing to increase as college degrees increase in significance and cheating numbers remaining at high levels, it is easy to assume the problem is unsolvable.
However, using easily implemented strategies such as requiring that calculators be cleared before a math test or simply reminding students to cover their paper can help reduce cheating on exams. Adding a curve to exams can also dissuade students from cheating.
Although plagiarism-checking websites such as Turnitin.com help keep some cheating in check, the numbers still show students are still willing to compromise their morals and integrity in order to get the coveted “A”. If cheating numbers are to decrease, students and staff must work together to help reduce the scope of the problem.