Cheating Lessons

Most people would like to think that they would never cheat, regardless of the circumstance. We can say with certainty that if the likelihood of being caught cheating is especially high, we definitely would not even attempt. However, when the likelihood of being caught cheating is low, research and past events have found that people would in fact cheat a little bit. According to research by Dan Ariely, only way to defeat the problem of cheating in high education is by changing the structure of the environment in which they are performing, instead of focusing on what group cheats more than another group. The author acknowledges that cheating cannot be eliminated in its entirety, however preventative measures can be taken. If the learning environment itself is modified, then the number of instances of cheating can be reduced. In the “Princess Alice” study, a group of 5 year olds were given a difficult task in to do (using their non dominant hand) alone as well as in front of an adult and an imaginary person named Princess Alice. It was found that the children were more likely to cheat without the presence of an adult or if they did not believe that Princess Alice was real. Ariely’s experiment and the Princess Alice experiment both provided common cheating-inducing experiences.

Psychologist George M. Diekhoff conducted a survey in 1994 comparing cheating habits among students in similar courses in both Japanese and American universities. The American students were, on average, younger than the Japanese. Other survey research finds that older students are less likely to cheat than younger ones. Yet the Japanese students cheated 29% more than the American students. It can be theorized that the difference in rates of cheating is due to the cultural differences between these two countries. In order to encourage more honest work and less cheating, courses need to be modified. For example, in Japan final exams are weighted most heavily, with pop quizzes and other exams rarely given. Therefore, study habits were not regularly practiced. Passing these exams, therefore, is a lot of pressure for these Japanese students. The explanation is as follows: “The fewer opportunities that students have to earn their grade in a course, the more pressure they feel to perform on each exam or assignment. The more pressure they feel on each exam or assignment, the more likely they are to succeed by any means necessary, including cheating.” For most of those teaching in higher education, they have the ability to design their courses as they see fit, unlike those taking the Chinese civil-service exams or other standardized tests, where cheating is found to be prevalent. Providing many assessments, as opposed to just two or three large exams, is more likely to eliminate cheating. The benefit of cheating on one small assessment is low, while the consequence of cheating on any assessment is always high. These frequent assessments will also provide students with practice for when the high-stake exams take place, because this article does not condone eliminating them entirely. The point made here is to not exactly redesign a course to reduce cheating but rather to induce learning.

The first survey of cheating in higher education in the United States was conducted by William J Bowers in 1963. This survey asked if the students had engaged in any of 13 dishonest academic behaviors. 75% of students surveyed admitted to cheating at one point during college. There has been an astounding rate of cheating amongst college students over the past 50 years. The author believes that it’s time for the faculty to take a role in redesigning courses, assessments and daily classroom habits to prevent cheating from occurring. The best defense against a student cheating is a student not needing to cheat, therefore learning. When provided with the tools they need, students need not to cheat. Actually taking more quizzes and exams produces more learning than simply reviewing notes, hi-lighting text, or rereading books. The key to learning in the Karpicke and Roediger study is the repeating testing and not the studying.

2 thoughts on “Cheating Lessons

  1. Connor Edward Opalisky

    Cheating is definitely a big problem in schools. I personally know kids who would spend more time figuring out how to cheat than they would studying. I think that the main cause of cheating is the extreme pressure on students to get good grades. Instead of actually taking the time to understand the subject, they resort to extreme measures to get good letter grades. Often this ruins the educational value of courses.

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