Education, News

Cheating. Who Does It, Why and How?

According to the book Cheating in School: What We Know And What We Can Do, the United States is in the midst of a scandal in their schools. No matter the level of education, cheating has reached epidemic levels. The authors sum up the situation accordingly, “Students from all segments of education are cheating – from grade school through graduate school, from the inner city to the country, from the poor to the rich schools and in both public and separate schools (p.1).”

These authors aren’t alone in perceiving a growing trend in cheating. In 2010, a study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that teens were not averse to cheat on tests and homework. In fact, most had done so. Cheating, it appears, has become more the norm than the exception. It has even been accepted by some teachers. Consider the situation reported recently in Atlanta where teachers altered answers on tests.


Who cheats?

A 2002 survey seems to indicate that at least 74% of all high school students have cheated when writing an examination (Primetime, 2011). It seems cheating is not restricted by class, gender, ethnicity, race or even grade point average. Cheating occurs at all levels of the education system. Moreover, it does not appear to matter what type of school you attend. The potential to cheat seems omnipresent. The practice is wide-spread among all sectors of society and appears to have gained acceptance among many.

Why do they cheat?

Research indicates students cheat for several reasons. Among the major explanations for cheating are:

• Everyone is cheating
• It is essential to cheat to keep up or beat the competition
• There is a major gap between those who are winners and those who are losers. If you fear losing, you will cheat
• A lack of understanding. Some people are actually unclear as to what constitutes academic misconduct. They actually do not understand the rules governing plagiarism.
• Society fails to punish those who cheat
• It is all part of a game
• The teachers shirk their work or don’t care so why should we?
• Students believe ‘everyone’ only cares about grades only, not the work behind them
• A lack of attachment to the school

How do students cheat?

Technology is a marvelous thing. In the pre-electronic gadget days students would write on the sleeves of their clothing, sit next to someone who was considered “bright” or hide cheat notes. Now people cheat using various devices. When in a classroom, they use their cell phones to access the internet to find any needed information quickly, or calculators capable of storing written information.

And for homework, instead of getting the “smart person” to write their paper, students are now turning to the internet. Here they can find a wide variety of options from which to “lift” the material. Some just rewrite the articles neglecting to realize they have already been paraphrased several times or directly lifted from another unacknowledged source. There are also plenty of service on the internet that will sell you a paper online.

Cheating has become a more serious problem than ever. It may be that students at all levels are simply more open to it or it has become too easy. It may also be that it is more accepted – a matter of marketability rather than morality. Technology has also made it easier for teachers to determine when someone’s work is not their own, but that fact still doesn’t seem to deter cheaters.

Sources: Nauert, R. (2010). Is Cheating in High School Normal?
Minnesota University (2011). “Academic Dishonesty.”

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Mary Brown

Mary Brown

Mary Brown has enjoyed writing about education and finance related topics, such as scholarships, student loans, college, vocational degree choices, and adult education since the early 2000's. She also writes about school budgets, accreditation and fundraising.