To cheat or not to cheat

GLOBE2a

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“To cheat or not to cheat, that is the  question
Whether ’tis nobler to in the mind to suffer
The sleepless nights of outrageous homework
Or to take arms against a sea of academia
And by opposing end it. To cheat, to pass —
No more– and by passing to say we end
The headache and the thousand hours of study
That students are heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To cheat, to pass–
To excel–perchance to be caught:
Ay, there’s the rub”

 

With apologies to William Shakespeare for  revising his work, I find this a fitting way to point  to a major dilemma in education today.

Living in a global village makes information easier to obtain. Therefore, instructors have requested increasing amounts of work, which has a tendency to lead to increasing amounts of academic dishonesty. In a recent study on academic dishonesty at the University of North Carolina students completed a survey (anonymously of course) confessing the type of cheating that they were most likely to indulge in. The results according to frequency were as follows:

1st – copying someone else’s paper (for instance, lab reports or group projects)

2nd- knowing that someone else was cheating but not reporting it

3rd – getting an answer from someone else’s paper during a test

4th – using unauthorized information sources during a take-home exam

5th -giving or receiving unauthorized help but still signing the Honor Pledge

6th- plagiarizing parts or all of a paper [1]

The conclusion to this study was that students perceive cheating to be easier and not as risky when writing a paper as compared to other academic work, particularly taking a test. [1]   Whenever Internet access is introduced to schools, cheating and plagiarism multiply. Schools increasingly use software designed to check for plagiarism in papers, but there is away around this – pay for another person to write the paper. Writing college papers for additional income has occurred for years; however, Michael Trucano has noted that the Internet makes this even easier:

“In an age where the ‘outsourcing’ of certain jobs and tasks is considered normal business practice, how should we feel about students who, for example, contract out their homework to well educated online ‘tutors’ based in places like India, Pakistan and Egypt?”[2]

Many business have moved from the local workforce in an attempt to bypass labor restrictions and increase profits. Are students learning to do the same thing in education – bypass their own limitations by hiring someone else to do the work for them? In the end the student may get the diploma, but the other person may get the job.

Photo: Shakespeare’s Globe Theater by Gerd Thiele

[1] “Which Methods of Cheating Are Most Common at UNC?” in Academic Dishonesty at UNC: A Collaborative Study, Part IV Report by Stephanie Eissens and Jacques Stanislaus; Research performed by Melissa Cox, Stephanie Eissens, Abby Martin, and Jacques Stanislaus. (accessed Dec. 28, 2012)
[2] Crowdsourcing, collaborative learning or cheating?  In Edutech, by Michael Trucano,  Wed May 4, 2011  (accessed Dec. 28, 2012)

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