Cheating Epidemic?


The LA Times reports that cheating is going high tech. On You Tube there is a whole section of how to cheat on an exam videos. If the the paper is right that more than 60% of high school students have cheated, then we need to discuss what this all means.

The most recent survey conducted by the Josephson Institute, in 2006, found virtually no geographical or gender differences in the numbers of students who admit to cheating. Students attending parochial and private schools cheated at a slightly higher rate, as did varsity athletes. And there is anecdotal evidence that top-achieving students also cheat at higher rates, said Josephson.

Some students have come to believe that “everyone cheats”, citing Elliot Spitzer, Barry Bonds and Bill Clinton as examples.

“It’s a mistake to talk about school cheating without referring to society at large,” said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit consulting and training firm. “We need to connect these dots and ask what is our attitude toward cheating, because kids are going to absorb that attitude. . . . And cheating learned in school is habit-forming.”

When I went to Princeton in the 60’s, the professor would leave the room during an exam because it was believed that the honor code that you signed on the bottom of your exam (“I pledge on my honor as a gentleman that I have not cheated on this exam”) was taken seriously. Today at USC, we use software like Turnitin to check most papers and exams for plagiarism.

To me, the very fact that I have to resort to this is depressing. What is going on?

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0 Responses to Cheating Epidemic?

  1. Alethea says:

    I think there’s way too much of a focus on success and beating other people out. Some schools are so competitive now that kids are studying for the SATs in like middle school or something. I kind of made that up, but the basic idea is true. As a society we’re so obsessed with being the best and the brightest we can’t just settle for being okay and being happy.

  2. cd says:

    I agree that it’s sad that we have had to resort to “turnitin” to submit papers. But I have seen firsthand the effects of cheating and how they can take a toll on the life of a student. A friend of mind is struggling to complete his last units in college and his excuse is that he has been cheating his way through his education. It’s sad to see smart students cave in to the pressures of taking the “easy route”. I think cheating is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately within the elementary schools because once cheating becomes habitual, I don’t see students stopping and actually doing the work needed to pass and succeed in their education. As for the private schools and athletes taking more advantage of this “cheating system” I went to a private school with a football team who won “state championships”. I witnessed cheating often and even saw how the teachers favored the athletes. In the end, it bit a lot of athletes in the ass, as they couldn’t hack the next level of education. Not only did those professors hinder their minds, but their ability to be great STUDENT-Athletes as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe standards on both sides have fallen (both with students as well as in educational management). I assisted a CMGT professor last semester who offered to pay me outside the university to grade his students’ papers (though aware it is against school policy for a masters student to grade other masters students’ papers). When the administration inquired about my resignation, I provided verifiable documentation of the offer made via email, but no disciplinary action was taken with the professor due to a close personal relationship with administration. It seems the administration is more interested in collecting student tuition than providing a beneficial educational experience. Standards ought to be raised on both ends.

  4. zak says:

    Random personal anecdote: my high school chemistry teacher presented his stance on cheating at the beginning of the school year; if he doesn’t catch you cheating, it’s not cheating.

    Personally, I cheated once in the fifth grade on a rules of divisibility quiz (and didn’t get caught), and I still feel guilty over 15 years later.

    Education is too focused on outcomes and not on the actual process of learning. Federal funding is frequently tied to test performance, SAT scores and GPAs affect admissions. Kids are just playing the game based on the rules we’ve set forth for them.

  5. Dan says:

    My stepson and his friends cheated at every possible opportunity in high school. It’s not considered cheating any more; it’s considered the normal way of doing things. They would get almost indignant if they were questioned about it. I remember asking my stepson once if he’d be happy if he went to a doctor who had cheated his way through medical school.

    “But I’m not going to be a doctor” was his reply.

    Well. Truer words were never spoken.

    “So what if you go to a mechanic to have your brakes fixed and he cheated all the way through his training?”

    “Not gonna be a mechanic either.”

    It’s like there is some part of his mind that ought to be there, but isn’t.

    This is of course a single anecdote, but experiencing it up close, and hearing his stories about what daily life in a high school is like in the 21st century, I tremble for the future.

    Incidentally I may have copied a few answers on math homework a handful of times in high school, but apart from that I never cheated on anything, not anything, all the way through graduate school. I enjoyed learning, enjoyed studying, enjoyed writing, and it never even entered my head to cheat.

    Guess I’m a dinosaur.

  6. Zhirem says:

    I concur with Zak. They are right when they say that emphasis is placed upon testing, quantitative analysis of progress and achievement. Gone is the concept of true learning in the spirit of the word.

    I believe that following the trend in testing, the teachers have stopped attempting to instill a love of learning in the students. Gross generalization to be certain, but I was lucky enough to have a few teachers (certainly not all), that filled me with a desire to learn. I wonder about that mentality being the norm any longer, and not the exception.

    Our society has completed the transition to plastic. Our faces are plastic. Our wallets are plastic. Our love is plastic. Our plants are plastic.

    Is it any wonder that our children are plastic too?

    – Zhirem

  7. Lindsay says:

    I agree that the pressure on kids to be perfect is extreme these days. Perhaps students are seeing this as a means to a positive end rather than as the moral issue that it is.

    The answer may be in addressing cheating on a moral level instead of through threats. I would hope that if kids were presented with cheating as a moral issue rather than from a “dont get caught” mindset, this trend could change.

  8. melissaxmarie says:

    i agree with zak. our entire futures rely on scores and grades and GPAs and not on how we got there. if you have the opportunity to better your score by cheating on an exam, most people nowadays are going to take it. yes, you may feel guilty, but in the end when you get into USC, you’re not going to turn down the admission because you cheated on exams to get there. And in response to the comment about enjoying learning, so do I! I thoroughly enjoy sitting in a classroom and learning, and I actually get a high from writing an intelligent, well-thought paper, but that has nothing to do with whether or not I cheat/have cheated.

    What’s going on, Mr. Taplin, is that when you went to school it was a lot easier to get into college, and for a lot of jobs that now require a Master’s, a college degree wasn’t even needed. Now there is competition to get into pre-schools. (I’m not making that up, I used to work with 4 year olds and spoke to their parents.) You do what you need to do to not get grounded for a C, to get high enough grades to stay on the football team, to get recognition at graduation, to get into USC.

  9. Ashley Torres says:

    Cheating was definitely prevalent in my high school- private, all girls, catholic college prep. There is no justification, but I do believe the immense pressure to succeed and do well plays a part. I am a business/accounting major and because of the curve many students are extremely competitive and some will do “what ever it takes” to be above the curve. It is sad and frightening… but how can you keep this from happening?

  10. yuk wang says:

    Learning now is more focused on your grades. Parents and even teachers may not really know what you have learned, but they will judge you by your grades. If cheating can help you to get a better grades, a lot students will try that out.

    I agree with Melissaxmaire, competition is everywhere and this generation has more than ever both locally and globally. A “C” might not mean anything in our parents generation, but it will definitely means something now because others are not getting Cs. When peers have good grades, you will try anyway to get a good grade under such pressure.

  11. Ahmed Omar says:

    Cheating today has become deeply engrained into everyday activities, sports, and relationships. In my view this issues is not just associated with academics. As put in your title, this is an epidemic. As mentioned in the post above, it is very true that our futures rely on grades and not how we got there. However I would argue that success, accomplishment and education in their true sense are not measured by how many A’s you got at school. And I strongly feel that the role of our parents to teach us these values.

    I feel it is important for everyone of us to ask ourselves some very important questions. “What is the purpose of my existence,” “how will I be remembered when I die.” It is only once we question ourselves and our existence that we begin to realize that cheating to get a slightly higher grade on an exam or paper is worthless.

  12. Nick at Last says:

    please, please read this article:

    “Who’s Cheating Whom?” – Alfie Kohn

  13. Mark Murphy says:

    IMHO, cheating, of the form discussed here, mostly means we’re not evaluating the students properly. And that’s mostly because we’re not teaching the students properly.

    The emphasis today seems almost exclusively on teaching facts, in part due to a vicious cycle caused by the very tests themselves. We feel students “aren’t learning”, so we institute more tests. Teachers are then steered to “teach to the test” so students can perform well on the tests. Since the tests tend to be multiple-choice (easier for mass grading), the tests tend to be focused on facts, and so the teaching tends to be focused on facts. And if a fact-heavy curriculum turns out students that “aren’t learning”, we beef up the tests, and the cycle continues.

    AFAIAC, multiple-choice tests are to education as “can he fog a mirror?” is to health care.

    I think we need students to have a firm grasp of underlying principles and the ability to deliver results. I don’t give one whit if the student can memorize and regurgitate the atomic weight of xenon — any sensible person who needs that information is going to look it up, because memory is fallible. I do care a great deal if all students understand the scientific method and how it gets applied to everything from chemistry to economics. And for students who actually need working knowledge of chemistry, I care a great deal if they can demonstrate the effects oxygen has on various processes (e.g., catalyst for combustion). I don’t care if students know the names of key battles in the War of 1812. I care a great deal for all students to understand how government works at all levels and their role as citizens in that process. And so forth.

    The problem is, what I think they should know and do aren’t testable by multiple-choice exams. Or even essays, which are eminently copyable. Oral exams, student projects, and the like would all serve better.

    Above, Zhirem refers to everything as “plastic”. I’d go with “mass-produced”. We’re mass-producing knowledge, using mass-produced test results, and wonder why it doesn’t seem as good as it did “back in the day” when we weren’t mass-producing it.

  14. Morgan Warstler says:

    Steven Levitt covered this pretty well in Freaknomics, cheating increases whenever people have incentive and no disincentive.

    Smaller local groups work better for “honor” because there is more shame in cheating, more in your face reason to behave.

  15. christine dennis says:

    There is great pressure on students nowadays to succeed. I feel like the common belief throughout modern society is, “Do whatever you have to do to get there” (including cheating). Students are getting lazy and they’ve lost the love of learning. Culture no longer focuses on the uniqueness of knowledge. Instead culture perpetuates the idea that money makes you happy. Students no longer care about learning, they just want to get through school so they can get a job and make some money.

  16. Mike Crehore says:

    I have watched with wonder all the icons and examples in our lives fall from grace- it isn’t hard to see it filter down to the masses.

    Used to be you could count on the President of the United States to stand for something. Ever since Watergate and Nixon, the floodgates have been open for any type of scandal and at any level of society. We all knew that things went on, but we believed that this was the exception- not the rule. Call us naive.

    Now we have titans of industry, doctors, lawyers, sports figures, leaders of every shape and style cheating everyone they can think of to get an edge. They all have to start somewhere- why not in our schools and at a young age? Who are the examples that we hold up to them? Even if you take religion out of the picture- and I think we should- how about a basic moral compass?

    We shouldn’t have to be shamed. We should all know better. But when the top brass in the US government cheats us into an unjust war and the business leaders lead us down the road to a depression, and we all know that none of them will suffer- in fact, most will profit from others misfortune, then you really have to wonder what my grandmother used to say- “what is this world coming to?”

  17. Julia Chung says:

    I think that people are just too lazy these days. I think that there are so many available resources out there, such as the internet, that people resort to simply getting their information from somewhere rather than doing their own work. I think that in general, the society overall has become lazy due to all the advanced technology and readily available resources, and therefore it affects individuals and how they achieve their goals. Everything is so easy now and people are used to it that people don’t want to really try and work hard anymore. I’m sure this doesnt apply to every individual and there are many many hardworkers out there, but in general I think this is the mindset many people have these days. I think also it has become so normalized to cheat that people just don’t care anymore or feel guilty about it. I think for some students it is even considered a challenge to cheat, not get caught, and get away with it with good grades.

  18. Hazel says:

    I seriously do not think that it’s a case of students having lost the love of learning — many of them have never HAD a love of learning for its own sake. My 11-year-old grand-daughter at school in the UK is fretting about “exams” she has to take next term. And she went to pieces over the tests at age seven. Can’t get into a good senior school without good grades, can’t get into university without good grades, can’t get a good job without good grades — when is there any time for the young people to love learning for the sake of it? They’re being taught to pass the tests set out for them and don’t have the time to deviate from that path.
    I take Christine’s point but I don’t think it’s so much that society indoctrinates students with the “money makes you happy” idea but that the lack of it will make you very UNhappy.

  19. Harry Pottash says:

    Julia you make a very interesting point, and I agree with you on one sense, but I feel as if I’m looking at the problem from the opposite side.

    At this point the resources available do make just about anything easy if you know where to find the right resource. I’m a programmer by trade, and in my industry if you have to work hard on something it’s a sign that your doing it wrong or that you haven’t found the right material.

    We live in such a resource rich world that the _best_ response to a problem is generally to find some clever and easy way to do it. We idolize the people who can best figure out how to apply leverage, the cleverest and the most efficient. I happen to think that this is a good set of preferred traits, and that cleverness is going to become _more_ important as we go forward, with hard work headed the same way as a strong back.

    I think that the cheating epidemic is a result of the education system, and the testing system both being horribly out of sync with the traits that currently need to be taught and tested. A good place to start would be with open-book / open-network tests, tests that allow limited teamwork. Tests that present new data and require you to assimilate it on the fly, rather than regurgitate old stuff.

    Of course the down side to that is that all of these things are much harder to design, to grade and to defend the grading of. I’m sure solutions can be found though.

  20. Nouri Abou Rass says:

    Yes, we can say cheating it bad, its a problem, and ultimately you’re only cheating yourself, but the core issue is the reason why people cheat. From past experience, fear is the largest motivation for cheating, fear of failing that is.

    Students should constantly be assured that even if they do not do well on an exam or two, they will still be able to pass, and sometimes with flying colors. The biggest counter force to the fear factor is the constant assurance that “even if you get an F on one assignment, you can still get an A, just don’t worry”.

    Its the constant threat that one assignment is such a major part of your grade that you cannot risk failing, which then persuades one to cheat.

    But lets look at the bright side, students are learning more than basic math and history in school, they are learning skills of adaptation and methods of “survival” for whatever situation they may be in. Many of us may agree, the real world is not as ethical or honest as educational institutions paint it to be. Its the survival of the fittest and person which learns how to adapt and succeed in any situation will ultimately progress in life.

  21. Maryam says:

    The highest-achieving kids in my high school all cheated. It made me want to pull my hair out. They are now doctors and lawyers. I’m in law school too, but earned it every step of the way.

    The problem with cheating? There are no IMMEDIATE consequences – and in a world where kids thrive on immediacy and instant gratification, what could be better?

  22. I agree with those who’ve seen a “culture of competition”, but as an anthropologist, I’m always interested in where culture comes from and what structural forces support it and gird it up. In this case, “high stakes” testing that mandates success or failure based on trivia and canon (rather than more holistic approaches to learning) instills in both students and teachers the idea that knowledge a.)compartmentalized into discrete facts and b.)divorced from any kind of lived experience.

    Let’s not kid ourselves–“No Child Left Behind”, which mandates the kind of high stakes testing that inspires both intensive cheating, and “teaching to the test”, along with the MCAS, in my state of Massachusetts, are producing the very kind of behavior that makes Turnitin a viable and necessary option for teachers.

    Not to mention the fact that cheaters in college are only the people who managed to learn the strategies of test-taking enough to get through these high-stakes test–poor students, many of whom are students of color, and who are in poorly funded educational systems anyway, do not have the resources or cultural background to learn how to succeed in the “culture of competition”.

  23. Hugo says:

    I agree with those who say that cheating, especially at the secondary level, is largely a product of the plainly cynical emphasis on standardized, norm-referenced pencil tests. I don’t know that adolescents are all that great at digesting the coarsening of public attitudes toward adultery and emerging with a rationale for cheating on the next test, but we all know that teenagers and even younger children are extraordinarily good at smelling a rat. The schools today are one big stinking rat, because they are test-driven and fueled by boneheaded input/output production models in which children—and often even teachers—are rendered mere “resources”. All of it is simply an administrative convenience, esp. viz politicians looking for an education “play”—a blood-and-brain game played for political points, e.g. test scores and schools ratings and output quotients. It’s ludicrous to pretend that any of it is done to improve the actual conditions for desirable learning, and children know this.

    Were I 40 years younger I’d cheat and vandalize and lie and plagiarize and blackmail and sweet-talk my way to fame and fortune. Or else I’d do it just to fight the cognicidal pseudo-educators who operate the mousetrap. Get some game theorists in lab coats to run a simulation in which schoolchildren play themselves and some adults likewise play schoolchildren, and I think those playing children’s “roles” in the kriegspiel would game the system just the way children herded by force of law into these juvenile reservations of ghastly banality in fact do game it every day.

  24. kalena ross says:

    I do not feel there is any way to prevent cheating. My second semester sophomore year I took a class where when it came to midterm/ final time we had to check in the second we walked into the door, give over our id, dps officers walked the asiles, check out when we were finished and sign a contract stating we did not cheat on the exam. Now that is intense. And to tell you the truth I still know kids who cheated on the exam. In all honesty, I feel the competition that goes on wtihin the business school (my major) is what causes students to cheat. Well that and laziness.

  25. Josh C says:

    I think it all makes perfect sense. Look where we live: In general (very general) this country is pretty ugly. Advertising everywhere, shoddy strip malls, ugly McMansions built too quickly, huge ubiquitous stores that can be found anywhere owned and run by anonymous corporations. Basically, our whole society is anonymous. Look at how big our high schools are now. 2000 kids (???) are shipped in from all over the state to save money.

    People spend more time inside, are afraid of their neighbors (amongst just about everything else) and in general don’t interact on a personal level with other humans. Basically, our society is slowly falling apart. This is obviously the HUGE picture here but this whole story is simply a symptom. I’ve been thinking about this my whole life I think… It’s truly sad.

  26. Josh C says:

    To sum what I said up: people cheat when they have no respect for others.

  27. Lynde Moffatt says:

    I believe that the biggest problem with cheating today, is due to the fast paced mentality of todays society. Our generation has grown up with conveniences at every turn. We can watch TV shows we missed on the internet or record them on DVR. We can download music in seconds and get DVDs sent to us through the mail, rather than having to go down the street to rent one. With this mentality, cheating is seen as just another convenience. If you can copy a friends assignment, or get away with turning in someone else’s paper (since sadly I believe this happens), it’s simply seen as fast, and not unethical. I also agree with some of the above posts that state that it is the drive to be successful, and students often take on a the ends justify the means point of view.

  28. Armand Asante says:

    oh please!

    I’ve a bsc in Computer Sciences – and all through high-school I’ve never cheated once. More out of fear of getting caught than anything else.
    I was also much the introvert and wouldn’t allow others to cheat off of me either. It was me vs. the paper in front of me.

    However during 4 years of Uni, I also grew up a bit as a person. And naturally I realized I COULD cheat.
    I also realized, many times, that I preferred cheating to spending time studying that I could spend partying and screwing and smoking weed.

    Exams do nothing other than check how well prepared you are for that specific exam. Nothing else. Not how well you know the material, nor how good you’ll be at your profession.

    I’m an intuitive programmer and I have better logic and math skills than most of the people I know and went to school with (even though most of them got higher grades than me).

    I’m mostly self-taught. Taught myself English, history, drawing and painting and most of my uni classes (which I used to skip).
    Also taught myself how to live life, how to negotiate people and contracts and how and when to cheat.

    It’s a natural endeavor.
    Your having to implement sophisticated methods to catch the unsophisticated cheaters is NOT a moral argument against cheating.
    It’s just a crappy annoying part of your job – and we all have those.


  29. Alex Wright says:

    It always frustrates me when I see people cheating, especially people I know are smart and could easily pass the exam. I feel like there is just a lot of pressure today on students to be the best, to make the grade, to be successful; I think sometimes students just get too overwhelmed, so they resort to the “easy” way of cheating, although, in the end, they are only making things harder for themselves.

  30. Mijin Son says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Zak. The people that I went to high school with were so intent on getting into high school that cheating was actually turned into a system. A couple years before me, a cheating ring involving students who had consistently been at the top of the class was uncovered and they had taken the whole concept of cheating to a whole new level. They used different colored M&M’s to signify answers on multiple choice tests, wrote answers on the back of their collars and even stuffed their pens with slips of papers. I don’t think that it’s only the pressures of getting into college that force students to cheat but the lack of motivation to simply learn for the sake of learning.

  31. Gianelle Smith says:

    Professor Taplin, I like the point that you make about students citing Elliot Spitzer, Barry Bonds, and Bill Clinton as cheaters. Aren’t these individuals supposed to be leaders and/or role models? Although I realize that with these specific individuals, cheating was not necessarily condoned, I believe that when such people in powerful postions cheat, they ultimately foster a kind of “come one, everyone’s doing it” attitude in our society.

    I also think it’s important to look at our so-called leaders as well as the cut-throat, do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-to-the-top approach that our society and the media (even the entertainment industry) impose upon students. As a result, honor and integrity have come into question; we now have to rely on.

  32. I haven’t read what people have written before me but I feel that there is more and more pressure to get the good grades to reach your goals. For example, 6 students from my high school were recently expelled, and at least 12 more are under review for stealing tests/midterms from the teachers. I am certain this happens at many schools but I personally feel that this makes my high school look terrible, especially since its been written about in many major papers such as the L.A. Times. But, as bad as the intentions of these students were, it has become a rather normal phenomenon, especially among high schoolers since the competition to get into the top colleges is greatly increasing every year. Under such stressful situations, it may seem like there is no other option. One’s own needs and desires will most likely win out over any form of an honor code.

  33. Anytime I complain to my mom about a “boring” class I am in, she stops me. She simply does not understand how I do not love ALL of my classes (as she so passionately loved her horticulture classes back in the day at UC-Santa Cruz). I always respond by scoffing at UC-Santa Cruz’s stoner reputation…but inside I am annoyed that my mom genuinely enjoyed the learning that was going on in her classes. I think since my mom graduated, a lot of this love for learning has been lost. As others have mentioned, it is all about what’s on your transcript: your GPA, grades, etc.

    2008 seems to be a lot about “getting ahead” and “succeeding” which does not necessarily refers to one’s happiness but how much money they make. I dated someone who encompassed the true meaning of “getting ahead.” Actually what I discovered was that he was a literally a “male social climber” (ewww) who would do whatever it took to “make it.” I realized he was a liar, a cheater, a poser—in his life and in the classroom. He liked the easy way out—copying homework’s, papers, probably even exams. To this day he writes that he had a second major at USC in business and puts this on his resume, though he never took one class…I am saddened by people like this who forget their morals and the meaning of honesty simply to fit in with the “right” people and make money, money, money. So, I guess after a while, one decides how they want to live their life. If they want to be an honest person and if they want to associate themselves dishonest people. Personally, for me, I decided it was time to move on from someone so caught up in lying and “getting ahead,” after all, I wouldn’t want someone to bring me down.

  34. Jenny Seto says:

    I think that the cheating epidemic comes from mainly two things:
    1.) The incredible pressure to perform well in school in order to get into a good college so that you can succeed in life
    2.) The unwillingness or resistance that people have towards actually working hard in order to achieve that
    Although cheating has always existed, I believe that now it is even more prevalent because the idea of easy shortcuts and instant gratification has been ingrained into our generation through the internet and digital and normal media. If you want to be beautiful, get plastic surgery. If you want to learn more about anything you can look it up on the internet. If you want to get good grades, you can cheat because it’s so easy with the internet and also so easy not to get caught.

    Since it has also become a more normal practice, it’s perpetuates itself even more. I have a friend in college who says that everyone in her class cheats and they were all getting A’s while she was studying very hard and was only getting C’s because of the curve. She said she figured she might as well cheat too to even the playing field because everyone did it. Particularly in classes where there is a bell curve, it doesn’t seem fair that everyone has an unfair advantage that you don’t. Especially in a world that’s so competitive and focused on grades to get into high school, college, and grad school.

  35. Ashly Sells says:

    Cheating in school, Ive noticed, is very prevalent. Many students tend to take the “easy way out” in order to achieve the best test scores, for example. I agree with my other classmates that in order to solve this huge problem of cheating, the emphasis needs to be taken off of achieving the best grades to placing more emphasis on what a student actually learns! This is the only way to solve this huge problem. Its ridiculous to have such a system like Turnitin to sift out the cheaters/plagerism.

    College is the most important level I believe that needs help with this issue. This is an imporant time in which students should really be learning, in order to use later on.

  36. sylvia l. says:

    Perhaps doing well on exams is not an end on its own, but rather a means to attain another end. And for this reason, it no longer matters to students how they obtain success in this area, as long as they do obtain it.

    Many of us recognize how important it is to have good grades… usually success is associated with performing well in school. But what students have their eyes on is the success that follows performing well in school and do not see performing well itself as success. Because of this attitude towards education, viewing it as simply a stepping stone that must be taken, honor and integrity may not apply. These students see school as something they must get over with to continue onto the next step in life. They do not see their years spent in school as time spent on grooming their character and ethics.

    And it is unfortunate that such an attitude exists, because this same attitude towards school may carry on into their next stage in life.

  37. Isabelle Pleno says:

    As we have discussed before, the emergence of new technologies has created a generation that needs to be constantly stimulated and entertained. Though this does not speak true for all cheaters, it could be argued that some cheat simply because they don’t feel like putting all of the time and energy into studying…but, still want to do well.

  38. Taj Gibson says:

    Cheating has always been around for ages. Being a student athlete myself, I have seen many cheat. At the same time I understand why some of these people cheat. Some work two or three jobs just to pay their student loans. I know that some athletes cheat because of the pressure to do well in their sport and in the classroom. It is really hard at times to go home and study after a long day of hard practice. Everybody doesn’t have the mental strength not to cheat. I don’t condone cheating because a person is not learning much. At the end of the day though a person has to look out for him or herself. The choice is theirs, they just have to know the consequences are high.

  39. Hugo says:

    It’s one thing to ask why so many adolescents and pre-adolescents don’t honor their honesty enough not to cheat. It’s another matter to ask why they do cheat. I believe it’s likely that each schoolchild of that age cheats for multiple reasons, in combinations unique to the individual and the moment. I also think that the greatest common reason to cheat is that they realize quite clearly that they themselves are being cheated by cheaters in a game rigged horribly against them.

    How then is it cheating? The ostensible “cheating” may instead be an entirely reasonable response.

  40. rhb says:

    I am impressed by the number young people who are chiming in on this topic. I suggest you might want to look at other aspects of the “education” system, too. For instance the difference between using the word “dumb” and “ignorant” to describe today’s young person, or the real reason why more and more students are dropping formal education in exchange for getting on with their lives as Armand Assante suggests.

  41. MS says:

    Sometimes it’s called “cheating” when it’s not exactly that: kids doing homework together, sharing class information, studying together for a test.

    Is it “cheating” to take words off the Internet?

    UC Berkeley classes have asked students to take words from the Internet and put them in a paper WITHOUT CHEATING. A useful exercise. More useful, in my opinion, than punishing kids for taking words and phrases for the Internet and calling them “plagerists.”

  42. Hugo says:

    That IS a useful exercise, MS! It’s a wonderful exercise, to learn proper attribution, and it’s an exercise that every scholar must master to earn the title “scholar”. It’s also an exercise that scientists and professional historians live by, and that journalists used to practice every day.

  43. zak says:

    “LINDEN – School administrators have tried nearly everything from gift cards to special assemblies and even principals shaving their heads as incentives to improve student achievement on standardized tests.

    This year, Linden High School is playing its trump card: Grade changes.

    Students who test proficient or advanced on the state tests used by educators to judge a school’s academic success will earn an increase of an entire letter grade on their report card in math and English, Principal Stephanie Markle said.”

    Continuing the trend toward results not the process of learning.

  44. Rick Turner says:

    Yeah, just move the goal posts or run the 94 meter 100, as John Clark so brilliantly wrote into his spoof of the Sydney Olympics for Australian TV. Got to make students feel good about themselves, right?

  45. Rick Turner says:

    Just went back and read some of the posts by those I assume to be young and either in college or recently out.

    Good fucking luck, you guys. You may get away with cheating there in the ivory tower, but you’ll get a real wake-up call sooner than later out in the real world. You’ll try to cheat your boss…and you’ll lose. You’ll try to game your friends…and you’ll lose. You’ll cheat on your spouses…and you’ll lose. In the real world, cheating is followed by falling flat on your ugly faces. It may take years, but there’s a Randy Cunningham future for you all, and you’ll well deserve it…

  46. zak says:

    Look at what CEOs are paid. Their companies can be failing financially and yet they’re given a golden parachute and all they money they can carry and then some.

    Doesn’t American capitalism teach you that outcomes are the only thing that matters, regardless of what happens on the way from Point A to Point B? Youth is basically following the rules society set up for them and continues to embrace.

  47. Hugo says:

    zak, I admire your pluck, and I’ve already indicated that I thought you’d see things that way, but I’ve got to agree with Rick: there are no shortcuts. It seems that there are, yes. But it’s an illusion. A lie. And a lure.

  48. Ken Ballweg says:

    Rick – Possibly, but some may become the owner of the Rangers, say, or, say… Vice President of the US.

    As much as we want to believe in “comeuppance” the fact is that fate’s finger is fickle, and the current crop of public figures getting caught is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Like the large number of murders that never get solved, some cheaters prosper, some don’t.

    Each year the Tour de France “cleans up” once and for all. Each year, people dope to win, despite the prior “lessons”. The trick, as someone said, is to find a way to change the balance of incentives, or adopt draconian proctoring.

  49. Hugo says:

    A third option, Ken, might be to provide conditions for education in which cheating is irrelevant or even inconceivable.

    Can you conceive of a dying Marine saying to a corpsman, “Guess I had it comin’, Doc. I knew I shouldn’ta cheated in Basic”? Of course not! It’s unthinkable. Try to imagine Yo Yo Ma admitting in an interview that he achieved his position in Music by cheating. Or imagine Mark Wellman trying to figure out how to cheat his way to the top of El Capitan.

    Sure, we’re perverse creatures and yes, the spirit and the flesh do vie, but still, everything worth doing is worth doing worthily.

    We ought to help students to find things that they know are worth doing. When I teach the young but fail to do this, it is I who am unworthy.

  50. Ken Ballweg says:

    Hugo – Again, agree with the principle totally. The problem is to find ways (remove the incentives) that make cheating conceivable and appear relevant to folks who are convinced that the point is to win the most toys, or the most power. I’m not justifying the fact that cheating exists because there are so many models, I’m decrying the fact that we have developed a culture that tolerates and practices it on such a pervasive level that a large number of your students will be deaf to your lessons because they see cheating as socially sanctioned.

    Leaders lead by setting the tone as much as by deciding policy, and specific strategies. Cheating is one area where trickle down is actually verifiable.

    So, in addition to bemoaning it, we really need to clean up our government and commerce by having a major accountability session. The judicial watch article only hints at how pervasive it is, what we can’t begin to count is the number of officials who are “cheating” and using the system to cover it up. White collar crime loses probably dwarf those totaled by the majority of people held in prisons today. Until we as a society decide to prosecute these crimes with the same zeal put into the war on drugs, then too many of our kids will see cheating as a very viable option. And, moral repugnance aside, how can you frame a winning argument against the actual examples that they see?

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