Folks, we have a cheating problem on our hands. I know it’s naive to think that my students WON’T cheat, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.
About two weeks ago I was helping one of my students email me an assignment from his iPad. Doing this required him to open his Gmail app so that I could attach a photo of an assignment. While I was there, an email caught my eye that basically said,
Send me the math and English homework because I just got home from practice. In exchange I will send you moon photos the rest of the month.
Wow. Really? The homework wasn’t even that difficult; it was basically finishing what we were working on in class the previous day.
I proceeded to email that message to myself as evidence of this. I wanted to alert the other members of my team to what was happening during the SECOND WEEK OF SCHOOL. I couldn’t believe that this was happening so soon!
NOTE: Some of you may have initially thought that this was an invasion of privacy, however this was a district iPad using a school-sanctioned email address, and all students and parents signed a contract stating that they understand that district employees can monitor their accounts and iPads at any time.
This past week I caught a student copying the homework from another student – RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! Yet another of my students cheated on an Accelerated Reader test while in ASB. When I mentioned cheating to my classes, some gave each other guilty looks, and one students loudly whispered “Oh yeah, ____ was cheating…” Needless to say, I’m so disappointed in my students right now.
A culture of cheating
Please take a moment to Google the following key terms (search them separately):
Now that you’re back, I’m sure you found articles online regarding:
- Infidelity (I don’t know why I should care who Josh Duggar is)
- Cheating in sports (particularly with the New England Patriots)
- Cheating in schools (in a variety of situations)
When you talk about cheating in sports, the infamous Jim Rome states “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, and it’s only cheating if you get caught.” Tom Brady was in the hot seat for the Deflategate scandal. Lance Armstrong, the 7-time Tour de France “winner,” admitted to cheating during his career. And who could forget A-Rod’s use of steroids? One common factor: they were at the top of their game, and with the expectation of winning, they had more to lose.
This is actually mirrored in schools. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times states that “students feel under more pressure than ever to succeed and increasingly see cutting corners as nothing serious.” In the same article, a research study claims that as much as 68% of undergraduates admit to cheating! In an interview by ABC, Joe, a student from a top college, stated, “There’s other people getting better grades than me and they’re cheating. Why am I not going to cheat? It’s kind of almost stupid if you don’t.” There are even accusations or instances of school officials cheating and altering standardized test answers. These examples also outline a common factor with sports: when there’s more to lose, there’s more incentive to cheat.
Winning is everything. Good grades are the ticket to success. If you can gain an advantage over your competition, then do it. If everyone else is doing it and getting ahead, then you should too.
The students in the Foreign Language and Global Studies program at my school tend to be students that have been identified as GATE, have parents who are very involved in their lives and education, and welcome an academic challenge. Students must apply to the program, take an entrance exam, and be recommended by their sixth-grade teacher. It would be safe to say that the majority of them will take rigorous courses in high school and are college-bound. There is a lot of pressure – from parents and/or school – to perform well to stay within the program.
I do NOT condone cheating in any form, for I think they will both lose their integrity and the opportunity to learn. I can see that they may have chosen to cheat in order to avoid consequences or to live up to their family’s expectations, however I think it’s important for them to take accountability for their actions. At this age, the consequences for not doing your homework are nowhere near as bad as developing a habit of cheating.
Apparently cheating begins in middle school, so it should be of no surprise that it’s happening now. However it’s disheartening.
The bigger picture
I found Academic Cheating Fact Sheet from Stanford University, and it painted a clearer picture:
Did you see the part about cheating continuing after college? Cheating can be addicting and have negative implications in the long run. The evidence in a study by Harvard Business School and Duke University shows that cheaters are more likely to convince themselves that they earned the high grade based on their own abilities, and set themselves up for future academic failure.
Cheating in one part of their lives can lead to cheating in others. Let’s not forget all of those examples of cheating that you Googled!
My own personal experience
I wish I could remember an instance of when I cheated. I’m sure at some point I copied #9 on the Calculus homework because I just didn’t get it. But to be perfectly honest, cheating was NOT part of my strategies for success.
Growing up as a concert pianist, I had to work very hard to succeed and win competitions. There really was no way to cheat in that: either you were good or you weren’t. I also worked my butt off in school to succeed. I didn’t resort to cheating because getting caught TERRIFIED me. Even as an adult, I’m still paranoid about it. I recall at one of my former schools that we were supposed to do peer observations with someone in our department. The teacher I was supposed to swap with never made it out to observe me, so she asked me to write down what I did that day in my class and give it to her. I told her that I was worried about getting caught, and she rolled her eyes at me. While I probably wouldn’t have been caught, I’m still glad I didn’t do it. I definitely didn’t make a friend that day, but as a probationary teacher at the time, I know I did the right thing.
Where do I go from here?
So…do I have my students and their parents read this blog post? Do I send out an “I’m so disappointed in our students” email? What?
My team came up with some consequences for cheating, including having the STUDENT call their parent and tell them that they cheated, as well as the consequences for their actions. We also have loss of privileges and opportunities for activities such as field trips. The FLAGS program will have to remove a student that persistently cheats.
As I stated in my previous post, I’ve also attempted to take away the pressure of grades and focus on learning. I’m hoping that this will decrease cheating in my class since my entire focus this year is on growth and improvement, not the grade.
Fine, I’ll give you an A so you can stop stressing. Don’t cheat because it’s not worth it; just improve your use transitional phrases and properly cite your sources.