Academic Dis-honesty Grows

photo courtesy of www.woofound.com

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

So, you’re taking a test. You spent all night studying and you think you’re prepared. Oh crap, you can’t remember the answer to number 10. Your teacher has her back turned, and you sneak a glance at the paper of the kid sitting next to you.

Most people have done this at some point during their high school career: cheat. They have snuck a peek at someone’s test or “borrowed” someone’s homework, or copied someone else’s information into their essay. In fact, according to the website plagiarism.org,  59 percent of high school students said they cheated on a test last year and 1 out of three said they used the internet to plagiarize.

Does this help students prepare for college? Does this help them learn the material? Or does it set them up to be cheaters through the rest of their lives?

“We live in a day and age where cheating has become much easier to do for a lot of the students, with cell phones that you can just take pictures of exams readily available at your desk or your pocket. You can connect to the internet in class to Google an answer or to look up an equation,” counselor Duane Mango said.

“Cheating is bad because you’re taking credit for something that you didn’t do, and when you don’t really do the work, you don’t learn anything,” said sophomore Bobby Poole.

Counselor Jake Donohoe and other staff have conducted surveys and collected data on the amount of cheating that happens on campus. “Almost everybody cheats at least once. Not everybody, but a lot. There’s definitely a feeling that there’s a difference between cheating on a test or cheating on homework. I would say that kids are much less comfortable cheating on a test then they are on a homework, but there’s still a lot of both,” Donohoe said.

According to www.takepart.com, one major reason why kids tend to cheat on their schoolwork and tests is that their schools have raised the stakes too high. The website suggested that a better alternative would be to reward kids for their effort rather than their academic achievements. Then, students would be less focused on how much a C would affect their grade and more focused on doing their own work honestly.

“People don’t cheat on tests as much than they do on homework because you can cheat on homework easier. You can sometimes cheat on tests because they [teachers] don’t really pay attention,” Poole said.

Caveon.com reports that last year, 95 percent of nationally surveyed high school students said they had cheated on an assignment or test and were not caught.

 “You’re not learning what you’re supposed to learn. Cheating will get you the temporary grade, but it will not give you the knowledge that you need so, when you cheat, and you go to the next advanced class, you will be lacking the fundamental skills that not cheating would have prevented,” math teacher Tom Schumann said.

Although students think they are fooling their teachers when they cheat, it may not be the case. New technology makes it easy for teachers to check for originality. According to an article on ABCnews.com, a professor at a New York City college found a similar sentence in many of his students essays. He typed the sentence into Google and found that it came from a paper written by a fifth grader.

High school students cheat so much because it is almost natural to them, according to Schumann. “One of the big reasons for why it does happen is that it is the nature of many teenagers to procrastinate and put off their work. They have an assignment for a week, and when do they start working on it? Day 6, ten o’clock at night,” he said.

Donohoe said that teachers are trying to be more observant in class during tests, but are also examining how much homework they give students on a nightly basis. “I think teachers can look at how much work they’re assigning and whether their putting too much stress on kids,” she said.

Schumann has used discipline to try to discourage cheating, but believes that discipline on its own is not enough to solve the problem. “I’ve given referrals, I’ve given zeroes. From a teacher’s perspective, the best way to help, to prevent cheating, is to provide excellent teaching. I figure the more students are knowledgeable, the more they feel that they are learning, the more time that they have to adequately prepare,” he said.