What is Cheating?

There are a variety of behaviors that may come under the heading of cheating:

  • Using other’s work or answers on examinations, tests, or quizzes
  • Copying material from a person, the Internet, a publication, or a group that provides pre-written papers (called web paper mills)
  • Making up or otherwise using inaccurate or false data, including citing made-up sources
  • Having someone else take an exam or test in one’s stead
  • Collaboration on an assignment that was meant to be completed by individuals
  • Using a cheat sheet, crib notes, or looking at another person’s work while taking an examination, test, or quiz
  • Getting an advance copy of an examination, test, or quiz from someone who has already taken it.
  • Helping or assisting someone else to do any of these things

How Many Teens Cheat?

In their biennial survey of high school students in 2004, the Josephson Institute of Ethics found that while 98% of the nearly 25,000 students said it is important to them to be a person of good character and 92% were satisfied with their ethics and character,

  • 35% had copied an internet document for a classroom assignment
  • 62% had cheated during a test at school
  • 83% had copied someone else’s homework at least once

A Rutgers’ Management Education Center national survey of 4,500 high school students, reported by CNN, found that about 50% of the respondents don’t think that copying questions and answers from a test is actually cheating.

Some Ways Cheating Occurs

  • Web paper mills whether they claim they are models or for instructional purposes or not) to use in homework or other schoolwork. Papers are obtained by purchase, or even by hiring someone to write a customized paper on a particular topic, or by trading a paper in and taking one out.
  • Free note/book summary sites provide information so that students can write term or research papers or essays for literature classes and others without actually having read the assigned material and done the work.
  • Reference and data base sites that are legitimate may be misused by students who copy and paste an authentic article meant for research and claim it as their own.
  • Cell phones with cameras or text messaging, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and calculators that have storage, can be used variously to copy or transmit information to others, or to bring forbidden material into the testing area¬†– substituting for less hi-tech crib sheets or cheat sheets written on paper.

Ways that Cheating Is Detected

Teachers may detect cheating simply from keeping their eyes and ears open and realizing when a student’s “voice” in his or her writing has suddenly undergone a major transformation. Catching students using various cheating methods during exams, is also simply a matter of eyes and ears.

For cheating that goes on outside of the teacher’s presence, the task of detection is different. In this case, Googling on a particular phrase in a student work, or using turnitin.com’s web-based system to evaluate papers also helps teachers to discover material that is substantially written by others and submitted as a student’s own.

Reducing Cheating

There are at least three ways that have been identified to reduce cheating.

  1. A zero tolerance policy, that is enforced.
  2. Diligent checking of student work by teachers. Turnitin reports that institutions that use it see major drops in plagiarism rates.
  3. A study by the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service found that character education can change students attitudes toward a variety of behaviors, including reducing cheating on exams by 30%.

What is Cheating Sources

  1. wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/OIIA/communityupdate/searchpage5.cfm?mag_id=64
  2. archives.cnn.com/2002/fyi/teachers.ednews/04/05/highschool.cheating/index.html
  3. josephsoninstitute.org/Survey2004/2004reportcard_pressrelease.htm
  4. aacis.org/conferences/aacis_2005/To_Cheat_or_Not_to_Cheat.ppt
  5. turnitin.com/static/plagiarism.html