The first thought that comes to one’s mind when someone mentions academic dishonesty is cheating and plagiarism, the theft of ideas and other forms of intellectual property, which occur within an educational setting.
In high or secondary school, a standard penalty for academic dishonesty is a failing grade, where as in college it can result in expulsion.
However, still the most widely spread forms of academic dishonesty are cheating and plagiarism. These notions are usually easily identified, because a clear distinction between the terms is quite obscure.
Cheating comprises of giving and receiving information during an exam, using and dissemination of material during an exam, taking an exam or writing an exam for another student, or asking someone to do so, submitting the same paper for more than one course, misrepresenting and fabricating written work.
Whilst, plagiarism is the use of another writer’s words or ideas without acknowledging the source, this is the same as theft. In Harvey Gordonís Guide for Harvard Students, plagiarism means “passing off a source’s information, ideas, or words as your own, by omitting to cite them or it is an act of lying, cheating, and stealing.”
Wikipedia describes plagiarism “as a form of academic dishonesty; it is a matter of deceit: fooling a reader into believing that certain written material is original when it is not. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense when the goal is to obtain some sort of personal academic credit or personal recognition.”
Academic dishonesty can have deep roots in the system of education, that now seem practically ineradicable. Statistics shows that academic dishonesty among students is rising in the past 50 years. It acquired various forms, including sharing another’s work, purchasing a term paper or test questions in advance, or even paying someone to do the work for you.
The most common facts on cheating emphasizes the fact that the phenomenon of cheating begins in elementary school, when children break or bend the rules in the course of competitive games against classmates.
Researches about cheating among elementary age children confirm that young children believe that cheating is wrong, but find it difficult to resist when others offer to break the rules. At this very age, when the value system is not completely molded and young children fall under the influence of authority easier, they should be thought that there is a stigma to being a cheater and plagiarizer.
Dishonesty in high school culminates as about 75% of the pupils admit to some sort of academic misgivings. High school students are less likely, than younger test takers, to report cheaters, because they would be irritating a friend.
High school cheaters usually are hesitant to give up their cheating habits in college and in their future job, their cheating techniques become more sophisticated, and they are less likely to get caught, as they are being fully versed how to twist their professors round their fingers.
What is behind academic dishonesty?
The scale of academic dishonesty increases with each year to come. Undoubtedly, there are a numerous reasons that force students to trick their instructors. Even the best students feel compelled to cheat.
The most common causes, behind academic dishonesty are:
- Many students blame their workload, as they are always up to the elbows in work. Their life is so hectic that at times they can not manage to juggle life, work, studies, and friends, therefore they are compelled to look for an easier way out of the situation, asking for help other people and excessively resorting to the help of the Internet.
- Good students plagiarize as they feel pressure from family and peers, they want to maintain the reputation and do not want to do modestly well. Good students do not want to undermine their authority, but today it is above an average college students who are cheating, as well.
- In the intense competition, students do everything to go ahead. The 1998 poll of Who’s Who Among American High School Students, 80% of the country’s best students, stated that they have cheated to get to the top of their class.
- The demands from society is that the people have to be knowledgeable. With overloaded schedule and stressful life, students can not cover all needed aspects of knowledge and becoming eager to meet the demands of society, getting good job, earning much money, they vigorously try to elbow the way through the crowd to the top.
- The grading system boosts competitive, zero-sum game spirit, where if one wins, the others loses. Grades have been made for the majority to focus on them all this accompanied with a great pressure for high grades. The contemporary educational system grades, measure the abilities of students, the talents, the potential, the individual prestige and authority of the students among their peers. Cheating comes as an easier way to achieve these.
- Students cheat because they see others cheating, they do not want to be unfairly disadvantaged. Freshmen very quickly find out that cheating and plagiarism are a campus norm and they go with the stream. They see cheating in every facet of life: politics, business, home, and school, and unfortunately accept it as a common practice.
What can be done to fight the scale of academic dishonesty?
For one we can change the educational system to make it more relevant to the world, to teach proper social skills, and at the same time eliminate the deceitful, hidden acts of cheating by recognizing cheating for the good that it brings: group activities toward a common.
The e-learning that is created to facilitate the learning, is a very good example of a beginning of abandoning the practice of cheating in learning.
The pupils, students, academic citizens are faced with the learning application online and have a unique chance to check their knowledge numerous number of times without being ashamed of making a mistake. The lectures are available online and they can repeat them as many time as as they wish, the atmosphere of learning is not tense and there are no palls that will tease you or make you nervous.
On the other hand there is the option to have a virtual classroom, if you wish to join one and then you will have peers that are in a segment of your screen or monitor. Less stressful, more comfortable!
There is no line between the teacher’s desk and the class that can make the student nervous and reach for the forbidden resources – and cheat.
Everyone who has started learning online is lead by the idea that it is easily available, cheaper option than regular classes, lectures can be repeated countless number of time and is learning to gain the knowledge for him or herself.
If you open a book when having an online exam, you are cheating yourself only! Not the examiner!
E-learning is a good beginning of an increasing the awareness of the people that learning is meant to be an enjoyable process, stress free and available to everybody.