Why Students Cheat and How to Stop Them

Why Students Cheat and How to Stop Them

My experience is not one of the greatest to tell. I am truly disappointed with students who cheat, especially with those that seem to be completely honest. They are the worst. They look innocent, yet they might as well lie about their grades and knowledge. Of course, there are A+ students who don’t cheat at all. But they are rare. During my teaching career, I realized that at some point in their academic life, all students cheat. Haven’t you cheated before?

Looking deeper into the problem, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t simply assume who cheats and who doesn’t, even though, as a teacher, you know it. Thus, I wanted proof. During the last exam session, I redesigned my grading system, coding the multiple-choice answers. A meant B, B meant C, and so on and so forth. I knew that by coming to my desk and asking me different questions about the exam, students would see my answer-key sheet. So, I “tricked” them. And it worked.

Why Students Cheat

I watched them go back to their places and changing answers. They had a smile on their faces. It was obvious that they were completely satisfied with the decisions they had taken. It was wrong, and I was mad – but I knew I got them. They were about to learn a truly important life lesson. 

After analyzing their exams, I could not believe that even the best students in class cheated. I was very disappointed. Those former A’s might have been a lie. It feels sad knowing that students don’t actually care about the knowledge. All they care about is their grades. Of course, that is not entirely the student’s fault. It’s the systems. 

During our next class, I said, “I have some bad news for students who cheated on the last exam.” Everyone seemed surprised, especially those who cheated. They seemed very sure of themselves. They didn’t expect to be caught. When I handed back their exams, they were truly disappointed to see where they actually stand. I caught them, and they knew it. They were ashamed, sad, and very disappointed with themselves too. I think the life lesson was well-received. 

Cheating Is a Major Problem Nationally 

According to the 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics Biennial Report Card on American Youth, about 51% of students surveyed admitted to cheating on exams in the past year. That is more than half of all American high-school students! This nationwide problem has started to become very concerning. Students are not interested in receiving new information anymore. All they care about is proving to their parents and teachers that “they do well in school,” when in fact, they don’t.

Marjorie Crestwood, freelancer at Write My Essay and former elementary teacher, shares her opinion on the matter. “Of course, this problem arises from the strong emphasis colleges put on standardized tests such as SAT or ACT. It determines students to focus on getting high scores, but not on acquiring knowledge during their four years of high school. They become ignorant of what’s truly important. Results are all that matters.”

How to Stop Plagiarism and Detect Cheating

Nowadays, there are many online tools to help teachers detect plagiarism. Thanks to the quickly-expanding technology, there’s no point in “tricking” the students anymore by switching the key answers. Detecting cheating is way easier now. Resources such as Grammarly or Quetext help teachers figure out if their students have been copying content, or coming up with their own ideas. 

On top of using technology to detect cheating, you could also have a conversation with your students, explaining to them the cons of plagiarizing their work. Opening talks on the topic might help them realize that cheating is wrong for many reasons. It says something about their characters too. Word travels fast, so plagiarizing might be unfavorably for their future careers too.

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