Cheating In College: Where It Happens, Why Students Do It And How To Stop It
In May 2012 a teaching fellow for a government class at Harvard started noticing similarities between students’ final exams that shouldn’t have been there. The professor brought the case forward and it was discovered that approximately 125 students – nearly half the entire lecture class – had been cheating. If students at Harvard – the most prestigious school in the world – can be caught cheating in large numbers, it’s safe to assume that cheating happens on every campus much more often than we would like to think.
About 75% of college students admit to cheating, suggesting that probably even more than three quarters of college students have done something against the rules to improve their grades. With an increasingly competitive atmosphere and a culture that some say is more accepting of cheating than it was in past generations, cheating has sadly become a somewhat expected phenomenon at universities across the country.
It’s hard to say what makes cheating common and acceptable. There are many different opinions about the prevalence of cheating yesterday and today and why students are so likely to take part.
Has cheating become more prevalent today than it was fifty years ago? According to the Boston Globe, the number of students who admit to cheating has remained constant since it was first measured in 1963. As our culture changes, college campuses become more competitive and internet gives cheating new forms, it seems surprising that the percentage of students cheating would remain the same. While this may or may not tell us something about ourselves and people in general, it clearly indicates that whatever is being done to stop cheating today hasn’t worked.
A blog post by Ralph Heibutzki on GlobalPost.com put students’ reasons for cheating in five different categories. These categories were ambiguous attitudes, competitive pressures, institutional apathy, lack of understanding, and self interest. A student’s decision to cheat could come from any one of these five sources or a combination of more than one.
First, ambiguous attitudes among students about what qualifies as cheating may cause more academic dishonesty than intended by students. While most students will call plagiarism cheating, many of them will define plagiarism in a way that allows them to indirectly copy the work of others.
Competitive pressures placed on children at a very young age carry on with them through high school and college. With so much pressure to stand out as the smartest in a class, some students may give in to the opportunity to succeed at the price of integrity.
Institutional apathy likely causes many students to cheat as they do not see the academic environment as one that deserves their honesty. Just like cheating at Monopoly is easier to justify than tax evasion, if students don’t believe their university deserves high standards then they may see no reason to follow all the rules about grading. Lack of respect for the collegiate institution should also prevent students from reporting instances of dishonesty they see around them.
Many students lack understanding of what constitutes cheating as most probably haven’t read their student rules. This lack of understanding may lead students to cheat on accident or in a way that isn’t known to be called cheating.
Self interest is the final category but would appear to encompass all cheating. Students are hoping to see a return on their investment of time and resources in college and watching someone else make a better grade can be painful. With only his or herself in mind, cheating is hard not to justify when someone can get away with it.
As the internet makes cheating easier than ever and the college environment becomes more competitive, how can cheating be stopped?
Tightening the rules on classroom behavior during exams seems like the most obvious and readily available solution. The University of Central Florida has a testing center designed to prevent, or at least limit, cheating on campus. Exam proctors record everything suspicious, measures are taken to prevent students from photographing a test, and students aren’t even allowed to chew gum as it provides a way to hide that they’re talking into a hidden microphone.
Since cultural ideas may influence the prevalence of cheating, the best long-term solution may be to take a societal approach. For cheating to be reduced, instead of seeing cheating as something that can’t be done, they must come to recognize that it should not be done. Removing the desire to cheat is the least immediately practical but most assured way of encouraging academic integrity.
So instead of laughing it off when you hear a friend’s story about cheating, confront them about it. And when you see someone cheating in class, don’t be afraid to report it to a teacher. Cheating in college poses a threat to all of our educations, and it can only be reduced by us choosing to stop it from happening.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
Discuss This Article
More Uloop Campus Life Articles
TEXAS A&M TEST PREP LISTINGSSee all TEXAS A&M Test Prep Listings
TEXAS A&M Test Prep Listings
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
TOP TEXAS A&M NEWS
MOST POPULAR TEXAS A&M NEWS
BROWSE OTHER COLLEGES
- By CollegeBaylor UniversityUniversity of HoustonUniversity of North TexasRice UniversitySouthern Methodist UniversityTexas State University-San MarcosTexas A&MUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonUniversity of Texas at AustinUniversity of Texas at San AntonioTexas Tech UniversityUniversity of Texas-Pan AmericanSam Houston State UniversityUniversity of Texas at El PasoUniversity of Houston (downtown)Lamar UniversityUniversity of Texas at BrownsvilleUniversity of St ThomasStephen F Austin State UniversityUniversity of Texas at DallasTexas Southern UniversityTexas Woman's UniversityCollin CollegeTrinity UniversityTexas Christian UniversityPaul Quinn CollegeSouthwestern UniversityNorth Harris Montgomery Community CollegeMcLennan Community CollegeAmarillo CollegeWest Texas A&M UniversityAbilene Christian UniversityAmberton UniversityAngelo State UniversityAustin CollegeBaylor College of MedicineBrazosport CollegeCollege of Biblical StudiesConcordia University TexasDallas Baptist UniversityDallas Theological SeminaryEast Texas Baptist UniversityHardin-Simmons UniversityHouston Baptist UniversityHoward Payne UniversityLeTourneau UniversityMcMurry UniversityMidland CollegeMidwestern State UniversityOur Lady of the Lake UniversityParker College of ChiropracticPrairie View A & M UniversitySt. Edward's UniversitySouth Texas CollegeSouth Texas College of LawSouthwestern Assemblies of God UniversitySouthwestern Baptist Theological SeminarySt. Mary's UniversitySul Ross State UniversityTarleton State UniversityTexas A & M International UniversityTexas A & M University at GalvestonTexas A & M Health Science CenterTexas A & M University-Corpus ChristiTexas A & M University-KingsvilleTexas A & M University-TexarkanaTexas Lutheran UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterTexas Wesleyan UniversityThe Art Institute of HoustonThe University of Texas at TylerThe University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonThe University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioThe University of Texas Medical BranchThe University of Texas of the Permian BasinUniversity of DallasUniversity of Houston-Clear LakeUniversity of Houston-VictoriaUniversity of Mary Hardin-BaylorUniversity of North Texas Health Science CenterUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at DallasUniversity of the Incarnate WordWayland Baptist UniversityAlamo Community CollegesBlinn CollegeOblate School of TheologyAmerican College of Acupuncture & Oriental MedicineOdessa CollegeGrayson County CollegeTarrant County CollegeSan Jacinto CollegeAustin Community CollegeAlamo Community College DistrictAlvin Community College Austin Community College DistrictBrookhaven College Cedar Valley College Cisco CollegeClarendon College Coastal Bend College Collin County Community College DistrictDallas County Community College DistrictEastfield College El Centro College El Paso Community College DistrictGalveston College Hill College Houston Community College SystemHouston Community College System- Central CollegeHouston Community College System-NortheastHouston Community College System-Northwest CollegeHoward College Kilgore College Lamar Institute of Technology Lamar State College-Orange Laredo Community College Lone Star College- Cy FairLone Star College- MontgomeryLone Star College- North HarrisLone Star College- TomballMountain View College Navarro College North Central Texas College North Lake College Northeast Texas Community CollegeNorthwest Vista College Palo Alto College Panola College Paris Junior College Ranger College Richland College San Antonio College San Jacinto College District St Philip's College Tarrant County College- NortheastTemple College Texarkana College Texas Southmost CollegeTexas State Technical College- HarlingenTexas State Technical College- MarshallTexas State Technical College- WacoTexas State Technical Colleges Texas State Technical College-West TexasTyler Junior College Vernon College Victoria College Wharton County Junior College Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Austin
- By State
- By City