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The Effectiveness of Honor Codes in Universities

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Honor codes have been implemented into many school to combat a variety of phenomenons. Although there is some statistical proof that implementation of an honor code can reduce cheating, there is more proof that indicates the opposite; Other proof determines that honor codes are less effective then believes, and for this reason should be diminished.

A study done on a public university showed that 88 percent of students believed that failure on an assignment was a reasonable warrant for a violation of the honor code. This was paired with a value of 40 percent of students who had violated the honor code and had not been caught. This shows that even with an honor code system that is implemented into the university system does little to reduce cheating and for this reason should be dismembered. The availability and will to do so is still there, leading students to overlook the honor code system and perform “immorally.” At the University of Virginia, where the honor code “is so well defined and policed by an elite student committee,”(Source D) plagiarism has become a large problem within the school. This once again shows that even when the honor code is strictly implemented it does little to nothing to enforce its written code of conduct, tying back, since the honor code system changes little of the integrity of the students, it should not be implemented into any schooling system.

This also touches upon the overarching honesty of students. In source A it shows a satirical piece that touches upon this matter. The scene depicts a staff development meeting in which they are being briefed on the usage of honor codes to prevent cheating; placed as a quote underneath the cartoon it states, “Recent research has shown that a spycam can greatly improve the honor code.” This statement touches upon the unhonesty of the students, implying the effective way to have a functional honor code system is to have the usage of spycams.

Another factor that plays into the functionality of the honor code is weather or not other students who are observing these actions are willing to uphold the rules enacted within the honor code. According to Mr. McCabe, a professor of management at Rutgers university, who specializes in student integrity, stated, “Their success depends on a “culture of academic integrity” that leads students to take enforcement if the rules seriously.” (Source C) refering to the success of the honor code system, he makes a point of saying that the system is in part determined by the whims of the students that choose to enforce it. Meaning, if few students choose to enforce this system, is would fail to hold up the honor code system. This arises problems, many students fear that “a mandate to confront peers would create friction”(Source B) and that these reports “ could not be easily kept confidential.” (Source B) Students fear the social ridicule that would come from, so called, “ratting out” a fellow student, therefore pas on the opportunity to give up their peers who are cheating. With the lack of student enforcement in the honor code system, it will fail to persist and do its job, so it should rather be reinforced to supply its resources elsewhere.

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The Effectiveness Of Honor Codes In Universities. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from
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