Why are more Students Cheating

Cheating; it is a serious problem in schools and universities, there have been several studies done on students cheating and the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Marina del Rey, Calif found that seven out of ten high school students will admit to cheating at some point in their school career. This figure is quite amazingly high, it suggests that students both believe it is acceptable to cheat and secondly will admit to it. But first of all what is cheating? If I go by the definitions given by http://www.cce.paisley.ac.uk/handbook/cheating.html cheating is:

-communication with or copying from another student during an examination or assessment (except in so far as assessment regulations specifically permit, for e.g. group assessments)
-introducing any unauthorized materials (written, printed or blank) into an examination hall unless expressly permitted by the assessment regulations
-introducing any electronically stored information into an examination hall unless expressly permitted by the assessment regulations
-obtaining a copy of an unseen written examination paper prior to the date and time of its authorized release
-gaining access to unauthorized material relating to an assessment during or before the assessment
-colluding with another person by submitting work done with another person as entirely one’s own work OR collaborating with another student in the completion of work which is intended to be submitted as that other student’s own work OR knowingly allowing another student to copy one’s own work to be submitted as that student’s own work
-falsifying data by presenting data of laboratory reports, projects etc. as ones own when this data is based on experimental work conducted by another party or obtained by unfair means
-assuming the identity of another person with intent to deceive or to gain unfair advantage OR allowing another person to assume ones own identity with the intention of deceiving or gaining unfair advantage to oneself
-the use of any other form of dishonest practice not identified above.

So, I think it can be agreed that student cheating tends to take the form of using someone else’s essays and experiments or using other students to help you with an exam or essay, and the question is Why? Why do so many students feel it is necessary to cheat? Is it just laziness? Or is there something darker behind it? And why is it so easy to cheat?

Well, yes it could be. There will always be some students who cannot be bothered to do the work themselves and therefore will just copy it off someone else who has been bothered to do it. But this tends to be an attitude that permeates secondary schools not universities. This is exaggerated by the fact that a large amount of subjects a student is forced to take they don’t wish to do, and so there is no reason for them to work. I mean, there must be very few people who haven’t suddenly realized that they haven’t done the work 20 minutes before a class, grab someone else’s book and ‘cheat’. But this is a very minor form, it gets more serious when there are A level exams or a university degree at stake, and then chances are that there is too much to lose for it solely to be laziness so there has to be something else…On a similar line you have the power issue, someone who is too lazy to do the work for themselves but also enjoys having power over other students and will force them to the work for them. There is luckily less of this, as it is a more worrying problem that is far closer linked to bullying. It is cheating for the sake of cheating, cheating for the sake of controlling someone else. But still, there must be a reason that applies to a larger percentage of students…

It’s easy?
With the Internet around it is easier than ever to cheat, and to cheat effectively. There are sites that will write you a paper for a fee, you can use MSN or other chat sites to swap project ideas. It has become easier and quicker to pay someone over the Internet to write you an essay than to write it yourself. A mobile phone can connect to the Internet and gain answers, an ipod could easily have exam answers programmed onto it instead of music. And many teachers haven’t caught onto these newer technological forms of cheating. In the same boat, if no one gets caught and punished it is noted as an easy opportunity. These need to addressed, as when cheating is so easy you will always have some people who will take advantage of it.

“Computer technology has made cheating so easy that it serves as a temptation for students who might otherwise toil honestly.” Posnick-Goodwin, Sherry. “Point, Click, Cheat” California Educator, October 1999, Volume 4, Issue 2, Page 14.

However, this cannot be the only reason, a lot of effort goes into finding the right sites or the right people to copy from or get them to write, and a fair amount of money can be put into this method of getting the right results, often more than it would just take to write the essay! So again, there must be something else…

Too much to lose?
If student’s whole lives are dependent on one exam result and they know it how do you think they are going to react? Exams in today’s society are classed as so important it’s completely understandable that a student will be under a scary amount of pressure to get it right. If they mess up it may effect their whole life choices…and in that situation cheating although wrong does become understandable…Particularly in a high school when the pressures are on, you don’t want to disappoint parents, teachers and you don’t want to lose your grade average. We are in a world where your best is not enough, that coveted A is all that matters, as that is what parents expect. I know I spent most of my life with the parents telling me that I’d get this or that reward if I got an A, but if I got a C there would be a punishment to go with it. The sort of pressure this puts on a student is immense and far larger than most parents believe, they just think they are helping their child get the best they can. But it doesn’t work like that. In a sense they are just supporting cheating as their child comes to believe that is the only way they can impress them.

And teachers are in the same boat, with government officials setting targets’ on what classes should be getting, teachers aren’t teaching the lesson they’re teaching how to pass the exam. And although this isn’t cheating to the same degree as plagiarism, it still gives the message to the student that their exam grade is all that matters. And if this is the thinking that is rife in both the student’s world and the teacher’s, then cheating is bound to be at least part of the solution. Like students, teachers are under more and more pressure to make their students pass, they are told that a students whole life depends on them and them alone, the government keeps on piling on the pressure and it can lead to teachers to fear for their jobs. If you are under the sort of pressure to get it right’ or your very livelihood may be on the line…well, there’s a breaking point, a point where you think, It won’t hurt anyone if I give them a head start’. It may not be morally right, but it is understandable.

Cheating becomes known as a way to save yourself from embarrassment or from a lecture from both parents or teachers who believe that you haven’t done your best’…it can get you a university education in an ever more competitive environment, and overall, if you put students and teachers under so much pressure, they will break, and cheating is one of these final solutions.

Self esteem
Feeling that you are worthwhile are deserve to succeed is an important part of all our lives, and equally important to students. And perhaps this is ultimately the reason why most students cheat. If students are forever trying to succeed and failing, or not getting the emotional support that is desperately needed they may not feel that they can succeed. If this is right then so much it is not the cost of succeeding as much as it is the fact that they do not feel worthy of succeeding. And this is a serious problem that really needs to be solved, students need to get more support and need to see themselves as worthwhile and able to succeed without cheating.

In conclusion
Cheating is a serious problem and there are many reasons why students resort to cheating as their only resort, I think the only possible to conclusion is to ensure that the causes behind the cheating are solved. Even laziness can be solved if you can keep students attention with fun lessons, but the others are harder. More effort needs to be put into how students feel about their work load, and less on the final grade, if pressure is kept up on students then the only response that can be expected is cheating.