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For as long as the education system has existed, so has cheating and plagiarism. Although this problem exists outside of school, it is most self detrimental during this time. In three different articles, Cheating in College by Scott Jaschik, Rise in Student Plagiarism Cases Attributed to Blurred Lines of Digital World by Kevin Simpson, and Studies Shed Light on How Cheating Impedes Learning by Sarah D. Sparks, the roots of cheating and what actions can be taken to prevent it are summarized. Although all three articles share different opinions, all agree that cheating is not caused by an increase in technology, but instead is caused by a lack of teacher and parent involvement. These articles shed light not only on what students are doing wrong, but what teachers and parent are doing to promote this behavior. As cheating and plagiarism continue to occur in America’s education system, teachers and parents can contribute to help end the existence of this problem.
Scott Jaschik asks and answers many questions about cheating in the higher education system in his many interviews titled, Cheating in College, featured in a collaborative book, Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It . One question that particularly stuck out asked if this generation of students, compared to previous generations, are less aware of the moral issues associated with cheating. Jaschik responded to this by saying they know exactly what cheating is, however, students now feel so pressured that they have convinced themselves cheating is okay. Another major question asks if colleges can do anything to better educate their students so they won’t cheat. This question is answered simply by use of the honor code without labeling it as an honor code. Jaschik has found in his studies that schools that don’t enforce some sort of code also follow with other characteristics that can support cheating, such as unproctored exams. The last question asks if strict punishments for cheating actually prevent it. The authors reply is very interesting because he believes students deserve a “rehabilitation” after a cheating incident. He agrees circumstances must be taken into account, but for the most part, students should get a second chance.
An article in the Denver Post by Kevin Simpson, Rise in Student Plagiarism Cases Attributed to Blurred Lines of Digital World, he interviews many high school and college teachers and administrators, and gets their insight on what is happening with this generation of students and their plagiarism habits. The most interesting point made was by Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University. She says the real problems is not students plagiarising, but their lack of knowledge on how to cite sources and understanding what is and is not common knowledge in their writing. She later says that one of the best ways to catch plagiarism is to simply get to know the students better. A local high school teacher, Michael Mazenko, agrees with Fishman and says one of his most important tasks is helping students define those boundaries between plagiarism and common knowledge. Mazenko argues that technology has not made this generation “better” at cheating, and if anything technology has only made it easier to catch cheaters. University of Colorado writing instructor Eric Klinger says there is a “stark contrast between academic laziness and students who do not understand attribution rules” (254). This further proves Fishman’s earlier point that lack of knowledge is the real culprit behind plagiarism.
Sarah D. Sparks wrote an article in Education Week, Studies Shed Light on How Cheating Impedes Learning, that shows not only through experience and opinion, but actual tests and studies that show why students cheat and the effect it is having on their future and education. The main point in this article is simply that students are more likely to cheat under pressure. This generation is experiencing so much more pressure from parents and teachers to get a good grade that they forget to learn. John Fremer says “One of the sad phenomena is that, on average, one of the things they are learning in school is how to cheat” (256). The phrase “You’re only hurting yourself” reigns true for these studies. It was proven that students who cheat and receive a good grade are more likely to deceive themselves into think they earned that grade fairly. Multiple studies also showed that students are more likely to cheat when they feel as though their teacher is unfair or fails to engage them to learn. In addition to this, research supported that students are most likely to cheat when they are under pressure to get high grades. A survey showed that 55% of honors students admitted to cheating on tests in the past. It was also proven, however, that cheating is more preventable when students are reminded of an honor code before a test or assignment.
These three articles clearly have the same topic, but their content all connects in the same way as well. Every article points out the fact that cheating obviously is not the issue, but outside pressures to succeed. These articles also agree that cheating is not something that can be completely prevented. Teachers hold the key to potentially decreasing the amount of student dishonesty. Increasing teacher involvement, not only in teaching, but in developing a one on one relationship with the student would benefit the student’s education and also give the teacher tools to catch plagiarism. These articles agree that technology is not the problem, as many seem to believe. Statistics and educational studies even proved that students are most susceptible to cheating when they feel pressured to receive high grades. I can personally vouch for this as a student because the only times I have ever felt a need to cheat or plagiarize is when I am most stressed or under pressure to succeed.
If there is one main thing every article agreed on is that cheating has not gotten worse throughout the years, but teacher and student relationships have gotten off track. Teachers have become yet another addition to the pressure students feel instead of someone to guide and teach them. All three articles feature different opinions but can agree that the teachers can all do something to help prevent cheating and plagiarism within the education system.
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