Cheating 2.0

It’s easier than ever to cheat via cell phone–text a friend, take a photo of the exam sheet, do a quick under-the-desk Google search.

Stats on cell phone cheating from Wikimedia Commons

Stats on cell phone cheating from Wikimedia Commons

I hear time and time again from my current students that anyone who graduated at the top of his or her high school class was a professional cheater. People rationalize that “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.”

That’s the bottom line: getting an “A” in everything. As the Center for Academic Integrity notes, “Grades, rather than education, have become the major focus of many students.”

How do you know that everyone else is cheating? Sure, depending on the study, anywhere from 30% to 98% of high school and college students have cheated on an assignment, but let’s be clear…

AN assignment. In the previous YEAR.

Not everyone is cheating on everything, all the time. Most students are doing their own work, and it’s unfair to those who are trying that a few choose to take a shortcut.

You’ve heard that before…cheating just hurts you because you aren’t learning…cheating impacts the rest of the class…but do you really understand? Teddi Fishman, with the Center for Academic Integrity, recently gave a presentation to the university faculty where she shared a very effective example:

Your teacher walks in and says she doesn’t know the best way to do an assignment. Therefore, all students in the first row will write a 1000-word paper, all students in the second row will write 2000 words, and all students in the back will be required to submit a 3000-word essay. No worries, though — the paper is worth 20% of everyone’s grade regardless of the word count.

How would you feel? Wouldn’t you be furious that you had to write 3 times as much as another student for the same credit?

Yet that’s what cheating does, Dr. Fishman explained. Cheaters expect the same credit for far less work.

And seriously? Quit stressing over your GPA unless you want to go to a top 10 graduate program, law school, or medical school. Many employers don’t care. Some quotes for thought…

Besides, if “everyone knows” that only cheaters get a 4.0, who would hire someone with that unethical GPA anyway?

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