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…