The Challenge of Cheating
Students cheating in school has come a long way from the occasional student in my day who, being a slow reader, would copy the book fly for his book report, write an informational piece straight out of the encyclopedia because he had never really learned how to synthesize information, or steal a quick glance at another student’s paper when he was really feeling frustrated on a test. School cheating has become so common that there are websites designed to promote it and the wonders of technology have made it easier than ever. For many students, cheating in school has become such an accepted practice that it is not viewed as doing something wrong.
One of the difficulties of tackling this issue is the sense that our students have that since “everybody does it, I will be at a disadvantage if I don’t.” They just don’t buy the adage that “a cheater is really only cheating himself.” Growing up in a society where they see far too many adults cheating “the system” or other adults out of their money, property, etc. it is little wonder that cheating in school has reached epidemic proportions. Yet the bottom line is, when students resort to cheating to complete assignments or pass exams, they are limiting themselves intellectually and very possibly not performing up to their true potential.
Our technologically savvy students have taken school cheating to new heights. Completing individual homework assignments with others it not even considered taboo. Sophisticated student cheating involves internet websites with prewritten papers, accessing chat rooms to answer homework questions, sharing of answers on tests through cell phone text-messaging or other hand held electronic devises, as well as storing notes or accessing the internet through their cell phones to provide students with answers during an exam. Cheating in school has even seen students photographing the test they are taking to show to others who will be taking the test latter.
According to cbsnews.com in their article by Kelly Wallace, High-Tech Cheating on the Rise in Schools, a national survey of 2,000 middle and high school students revealed that 35% say they have used a cell phone at least once to cheat while writing an exam and 52% stated that they have used the internet to help them cheat. The article also relates that due to the fact that that information is passed on electronically rather than face to face, many students do not view the “sharing of information” as cheating.
In an effort to combat some of the problem of school cheating, John Barrie has founded a service called Turnitin.com which allows educators to compare students’ papers with all available literature in its database. Barry claims that 30% of the papers submitted to his site have shown significant levels of plagiarism. Other efforts to confront the issue are school wide bans of cell phones or minimally, bans on possession of a cell phone during an exam.
School administrators and educators need to take a strong stance against students cheating in schools. We can no longer afford to look the other way. Students need to be made aware that school cheating will not be tolerated. We can assist our students by instructing them in how to research and present original material, provide study guides and instruction in how best to prepare for examinations, and encourage cooperative learning where everyone participates to find solutions to queries. When our students see that we are serious about helping them to be honest with us and themselves, we will see a decrease in cheating in our schools.