Sad: Cheating Surges in Schools

From the Wall Street Journal:

A year of remote learning has spurred an eruption of cheating among students, from grade school to college. With many students isolated at home over the past year—and with a mass of online services at their disposal—academic dishonesty has never been so easy.

To me, academic integrity is at the heart of what we do as educators.

While I have students that cut class, miss assignments, and perform poorly on tests, none of that bothers me nearly as much as when a student cheats.

(I should note, that despite the surge, I still believe that honest students far outweigh the number who cheat. But the surge is certainly of major concern.)

Like most colleges, we have a code of academic integrity that our students are required to read, and the faculty are supposed to reinforce throughout the semester.

I used to copy and paste part of the code onto my syllabus, but I was not sure how effective that was.

So I changed it to simply say: “Don’t cheat. You know it’s wrong.”

I wasn’t sure if that worked either, so after reading a book about how powerful labels can be, I changed my syllabus again to say: “Don’t cheat. If you do, you’ll be known as a cheater, and every time I pass you in the hallway, that is the first thought that will come into my mind – you’re a cheater.”

Well if the article above is any indication, that probably doesn’t work either.

I understand that it has been a tough year for students, and they are feeling a lot of pressure.

But cheating is such an unacceptable way of dealing with such stress.

And like in many situations, teachnology is a double edged sword.

Technology has enabled education to continue during the pandemic, and while parts of such an approach may not be as effective as in-person learning, I think if used correctly can still deliver a quality educational experience. And there are wonderful computer-based tools to enhance the learning process.

But at the same time, technology has enabled the cheating. From online student “support” sites, to smartphones, to drones (yes, one student tried to use a drone’s camera to take images of a test to possibly share with others).

(Others have used less sophisticated approaches:

  • one person was trying to cheat by using information on sticky notes on his dog
  • a female student who sneezed and disappeared from camera view, was suddenly be replaced by a male wearing a blond wig, impersonating her)

The article, and the comments, offer lots of possible reasons for the surge in cheating: parents, teachers, college administrators, and society in general.

While they may contribute to the problem, I think the primary person at fault is the one doing the cheating. Most, if not all of them, know that what they are doing is wrong, yet they have done some sort of cost/benefit analysis and decided that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Somewhow, we’ve got to change the dynamics of that analysis.

As my title notes, it’s a sad state of affairs…


61 thoughts on “Sad: Cheating Surges in Schools

  1. I noticed that new word you invented: “teachnology.” Very clever.
    I suggest the firing squad for any known cheaters. That should serve as an effective deterrent, unless the cheaters wear bullet-proof vests.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I also like that new word that my typing ineptitude created.

      Another deterrent may be they have to read and comment on each one of my blog posts for an entire semester. No student would want to do that…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It is a sad state of affairs and some of it goes all the way to the top. The politics of the not so distant past are one example. But when leaders get away with it, then others feel they can too. I think there is a lot more cheating going on than we would like to admit and not just by students.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel the same way about cheating, although I admit that I would have liked to see the fake sneeze routine.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A sad reflection on modern life, but I guess if they see the country’s former leader doing it multiple times every day that sets a precedent and an example to follow – a very bad example.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree; leaders need to set the right example, since people do look to them for guidance in how to act appropriately. We can certainly do better in choosing leaders of good character…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is sad to hear, but I guess not unexpected. Even if they are successful at cheating, they will forever know that they never truly earned the rewards they now hold so important. Integrity is to valuable a commodity to give it away.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. i think those who cheat, will cheat regardless of tech teaching or not, though this makes it much easier and harder to resist for those who might on the edge of this choice. it is sad when people cheat, and even with the pk, when playing candyland, we talk about why it’s important not to cheat and why we just do our best, win some, lose some, with my hope that i can instill this in them to consider this now, rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is sad but I really don’t know if there is anything that can effectively stop it from happening. Some may be detered. But as for the ones who really want to cheat, tey will convince themselves they won’t get caught, no matter the consequence.

    After all cheatimg isn’t just a problem with students. How many adults are there that cheat on their taxes, or cheat at work on the hours they say they put in? Take an extra long lunch break, etc. I think it really just boils down to your character.


  8. Without going into all the details, there were times when I think I was cheated or treated unfairly by teachers in high school and college who assumed unusually good performance must be the result of cheating or in another case who believed I was lying about not knowing he revoked the extension of the due date for an assignment on the one day I missed class because of legitimate illness. The assignment was done and could have been turned in on the original date. In the back of my mind I wonder if bigotry played a role.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hate to hear that cheating is surging, I would like to think that there are more honest students compared to those that do cheat. I was too afraid of the nuns to cheat, and of course there was the issue of not wanting to disappoint my parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nothing good has come from this pandemic. Just wait til the stats start coming out about the carnage of mental health damage done to millions globally. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with your stance on cheating. Even West Point has been dealing a huge cheating scandal. If I was still teaching middle school computer-based applications, I would have struggled with remote learning and evaluating work since everyone was no longer in a classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

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