Cheating in schools goes high-tech

21 Dec

Some colleges in an attempt to curb academic dishonesty on campus are beginning to employ methods one has usually associated with Las Vegas casinos. Minnesota State University Mankato has an excellent newsletter article about academic dishonesty. Richard C. Schimming writes in Academic Dishonesty

A recent survey found that 1/3 of all students admitted to cheating on an examination, 1/2 admitted to cheating on a class assignment, 2/3 admitted to cheating at least once during their college career, and 2/3 have seen classmates cheat on exams or assignments. Paradoxically, 3/4 of those in that survey believe that cheating is not justified under any circumstances. Finally, 1/2 of the students surveyed believe that the faculty of their university do not try to catch cheaters….

The various reasons that students give for cheating can also be instructive in obtaining a picture of academic dishonesty. Gleaned from a variety of sources, the list of student reasons for cheating given below is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive:

  1. Today’s generation of student has less of an attachment to the institution so that cheating is more impersonal and seen as less painful because of this detachment.
  2. The difficult job market places a premium on a high grade point average so that any means necessary will be employed to achieve and maintain good grades.
  3. Some students believe that professors are cheating them in the classroom by shirking their teaching responsibilities. Therefore, students come to believe that turnabout is fair play.
  4. New entering students find themselves in courses beyond their capability so they resort to cheating to succeed in the course.

The metaphors and social constructs provided by students in surveys can also provide insight into the rationale for academic dishonesty. In one recent study, students used the following metaphors for cheating:

  1. Cheating is just a game, so that it is not important how you win but what is important is that you win.
  2. Cheating is an addiction. Once a student has successfully cheated in some academic context, the urge to continue can become addicting.
  3. Cheating is an easy out. Rather than working hard to master the material, a student can be tempted to use the shortcut of academic dishonesty.
  4. Cheating is a personal dilemma. Students do not begin to cheat because they are ignorant of the potential consequences. Rather the decision to cheat is a difficult decision for most students.
  5. Cheating is theft. The act of cheating robs the institution, the professor, the cheating student, and the other students.
  6. Cheating is a team effort. Cheating does not occur in a vacuum. Where there is a culture that condones cheating and where a student sees other students cheating, academic dishonesty is more likely to flourish.

For some students, cheating starts early. By the time some kids reach college they have already established a pattern of cheating. ABC News has a good report, A Cheating Crisis in America’s Schools

B.A. Birch has posted ‘e-Cheating’ Students Harness High-Tech Tools at Education News:

A new study by Common Sense Media has found that more than 35% of teens ages 13 to 17 with cellphones have used the devices to cheat.

52% of those polled admitted to some form of cheating involving the Internet.

Earlier this year, Omar Shahid Khan, 21, an Orange County student, pleaded guilty to stealing Advanced Placement tests and altering college transcripts. Khan is said to have hacked into the school’s grading system by installing spyware on school computers.

“This is about the pressures that kids are feeling in school,” says Jill Madenberg, a Great Neck, N.Y., college consultant.

“The pressure to do well, the pressure to get into a good college… It’s literally all over the country — it’s an epidemic of sorts.”

cheating cases, they’re just making it harder to detect.

“The naïve folk belief is that cheating never used to be a problem,” Bramucci says.

http://www.educationnews.org/technology/e-cheating-students-harness-high-tech-tools/

Trip Gabriel has an interesting article in the New York Times about the University of Central Florida’s attempts to defeat cheaters. In To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery Gabriel reports about the attempts of the University of Central Florida to stop cheating. Since cheating has become an issue at college campuses, just like bacon and eggs, next comes the study.

Sora Song of Time.Com discusses the inevitable study in the article, Profiling Student Cheaters: Are they Psychopaths?

Psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that students who cheated in high school and college were likely to meet the criteria for psychopathic personality – the type that tends toward a range of bad behaviors, like alcohol and drug abuse, bullying and reckless driving. It’s the same impulsive, callous and antisocial personality that characterizes criminal psychopaths, though, to be fair, student cheaters scored a lot lower on psychopathy questionnaires than actual criminal offenders. (More on Time.com: Video: Giving Dropouts a Second Chance)

The researchers found that academic cheaters also scored high in two other personality traits: narcissism (people who suffer from grandiosity, self-centeredness and an outsized sense of entitlement) and Machiavellianism (cynical, amoral types who make it a habit to manipulate others). But of the three disordered personalities – together known colorfully as the Dark Triad – psychopathy was the only trait significantly associated with student cheating.

The new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, describes the results of a series of three studies involving nearly 600 college students. (Read a PDF of the paper here.) In each, the volunteers were asked to fill out anonymous personality questionnaires; some participants also took tests of intelligence. Personality questions included: “I like to be the center of attention” (i.e., I may be a narcissist), “It’s hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there” (Machiavellianism), and “I have attacked someone with the goal of hurting them” (psychopathy).

The conclusion of the study is that the only thing which can be done is to make it impossible for the psychopath to cheat, since they obviously have no impulse control and an appeal to values doesn’t work. One of the frightening prospects highlighted by the article is that it is possible to screen for psychopathic traits in people, but it probably wouldn’t be ethical for schools to do so. So, like the chicken and the egg riddle, society is back at placing the emphasis on strong families, values, and a K-12 education which sets some perimeters. Something to think about.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

4 Responses to “Cheating in schools goes high-tech”

  1. MilindL January 28, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Well, as a school student seeing this, cheating is rampant in schools too. But cheaters do get caught, as demonstrated here(http://404fatalerror.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/funschool-height-of-cheating/) When they cross their limits…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Suing to get a better high school transcript after cheating incident « drwilda - May 2, 2012

    […] Cheating in schools goes high-tech                                                        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/cheating-in-schools-goes-high-tech/ […]

  2. Cheating at Harvard « drwilda - September 2, 2012

    […] For some students, cheating starts early. By the time some kids reach college they have already established a pattern of cheating. ABC News has a good report, A Cheating Crisis in America’s Schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/cheating-in-schools-goes-high-tech/ […]

  3. Dishonesty on the part of adults in schools | drwilda - April 1, 2013

    […] Cheating in schools goes high-tech https://drwilda.com/2011/12/21/cheating-in-schools-goes-high-tech/ […]

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