Dealing with cheating becoming an increasing problem
December 6, 2015
Recently there have been spikes of the amount of academic dishonestly. Teachers and principals are faced with having to distinguish the difference between collaboration and cheating. They also have to decide how to investigate cheaters that claim they were given the information and did not use it.
There are many unanswered questions pertaining to cheating. What is cheating? How do you protect yourself from it? What is the punishment for cheating? Yet not knowing the answer to these questions is not as important as learning how to prevent cheating in the first place. Many high schoolers care more about their grades than actually learning, but there is also a significant portion of students who use cheating to get caught back up when they have fallen behind due to laziness and procrastination.
The effects of cheating
Cheating is used to ensure a good grades on assignments and tests, but there is no actual learning that comes from it. As students get into colleges, cheating and plagiarism punishments become harsher; it can result to expulsion from that college and make it nearly impossible to get into another one.
Assistant Principal, Aaron Drevlow said, “If a student is going just for grades, in the future it doesn’t really work out for them. Cheating will lead to students being anxious, overly stressed, and overwhelmed. The students who cheated constantly are the ones who will only make it through two years of college and then drop out or get a major that they will never use again because they got it for the wrong reasons. Life will teach the best mode.”
Students also cheat due to the lack of interest in a subject. If a student dislikes a subject not much will motivate them to do their designated work.
“From a subject standpoint, students wonder why they have to take a PE credit, or two art credits, but we are creating well rounded citizens. It will show students what they know they want to take in college and what they don’t,” Drevlow explained.
Sometimes students do not realize what they are doing is cheating. Sharing an essay or paper with a friend to see the format sometimes turns into the same paper with just a few words twisted here and there.
Drevlow explained, “Cheating is certainly using anyone’s work that isn’t your own. I think that having possession of work that isn’t your own- there is a lot of grey area in colleges universities, and even the schools that have to decide, what is collaboration?”
Technology creates an easier way for students to get test answers. If a student receives answers for an exam it isn’t as easy as just deleting the picture from their phone, the other person could still have it on theirs. To protect yourself the only real way is turning in the cheater to a teacher or professor. No one wants to turn in a friend or is too scared to in the first place so you are put in a sticky situation of how to defend yourself from undeserving punishment.
“It’s like how and what do you do in that moral dilemma. The minimum you should do is text the friend back saying ‘I don’t want this, I won’t use this and I’m deleting it’ so there’s that proof, but sometimes not even that will protect you,” Drevlow said.
Cheating on assignments, exams and tests affects not only yourself, but in some cases it affects others too. The bell curve is a grading method that is becoming more prevalent in high schools and is already used in most universities. Also known as curved grading, the bell curve determines grades based on the performance of a class as a whole. Now if students who were normally below the curve (below the average score) cheats and gets a higher score than they deserve, then they push normal A student’s grade further down the curve.
“I like the bell curve system because it creates self accountability in between the students, but in other ways I don’t like it because when a group of students who cheat get 97 percent and then an honest student gets 90 percent, instead of an A- they are now at a B,” explained Drevlow.
The classification process
When a student cheats there needs to be some type of consequence because it is not fair to students who have worked their hardest, regardless if the bell curve or just the regular grading system is in place. Each department is given its own guidelines of what to do in a situation where cheating is present. Plagiarism on a paper is different then copying a chemistry lab assignment. Teachers also have to decide if the student deserves a complete zero or if they deserve some credit based on their prior knowledge and class work. They have to decide if a student deserves a zero if they have demonstrated that in class that they know what they are doing.
“We have a school-wide guide that you can easily find online, but we also have guidelines for every department because they all deal with cheating differently. The nice piece about that is it allows us as an administration to investigate the case, send it back to the department and then they usually talk to their colleagues and figure out what they want to do,” Drevlow added.
Possible solutions to lessen the amount of cheating
Students often cheat because it is so much easier and less time consuming to copy a friend then to do it themselves. Homework handouts are one of the simplest things to cheat on. To fill in a blank or answer a short question that should be the same for everyone. There are a few solutions to eliminate the temptation to copy a someone’s sheet. The first is have research be done outside of class and then the actual assignment done in class. This takes away the stress factor of the timeliness the task takes at home and then a teacher is watching over the students. A second option is to make assignments take higher level thinking. If students have to come up with their own answers, they can not copy someone’s answers word for word. To prevent cheating on tests, teachers should could have less multiple choice questions and more free response questions that really test your knowledge instead of just recognition. It would not be fair to take out multiple choice tests all together, but if you can google a question on a test and have it be one of the first things that comes up, it probably should to even be on the test.
Other measures that can be taken to expose cheating on essays and papers is turnitin.com which recognizes if papers that have been turned in are similar. Phones should also be removed from students during exams as they become more and a more of a tool for students to use to cheat. Lastly during tests and retakes there should always be a teacher present in the room.
When faced with the opportunity to cheat, students should turn it down. It may help for one worksheet, handout, or test, but in the long run it will catch up to them. Another way to stay away from cheating is to not procrastinate, but space out assignments given out in advance or study for a little bit each day before a test. Getting behind leads to stress and anxiety, which is a big motivator then it comes to cheating.
“Engaging students using higher level learning tools is always going to be the best. Working with unique and innovative responses and getting away from the multiple choice makes the most sense to me.” Drevlow said.