Chilling by cheating

The problem that is considered a solution


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Cheating has become a major issue in the educational system and can start as early as elementary school.

Eunice Ramilo, Photo Editor

Cheating, according to Google, is defined “to act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination.” It’s known by every student. It can start as early as elementary and even develop well into college years; and as a result, it has placed a big question mark on student liability.

Recently, NBC News reported that two teachers from Vero Beach High School in Indian River County, Florida “allegedly helped students cheat on a certification exam in an effort to receive bonus pay.” While the two teachers, Alison Moody and Ralph Vaughn, may face the consequence of getting fired, “all students from the last two years lost their industry certification through the program and could also lose several math credits and other grades from the state.” Clearly, cheating has continued to distort the definition of learning and what it means to gain knowledge from getting an education.

Instead of students depending on each other for things such as study groups, they’re more so depending on each other for the answers to a test. Why is that? What caused cheating to become this wildfire of an issue among students, and yet it hasn’t been stopped or even contained? One answer is that it’s way easier and faster nowadays. With the numerous advancements in technology and the countless opportunities covered by the internet, answers come in fast, even faster than what the average student mind can think of.

According to an article titled “Studies Find More Students Cheating, With High Achievers No Exception” by the New York Times, the internet allows “students to connect instantly with answers, friends to consult, and works to plagiarize…a world of instant downloading, searching, cutting, and pasting has loosened some ideas of ownership and authorship.” The same article took note of a recent study done by Jeffrey Roberts and David Wasieleski at Dusquesne University in which they came to the conclusion that copying was more evident when college students were exposed to more online resources. As the internet is continuously updated with new information and more educational resources, students begin to become more dependent on the internet itself more than their own knowledge and understanding.

In a 2011 feature article titled “Beat the Cheat” by the American Psychological Association, a survey of 40,000 U.S. high school students was released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. The survey showed that “more than half of teenagers say they have cheated on a test during the last year, and 34 percent have done it more than twice.” In light of the survey, the article suggested a second reason why cheating has become so prominent in the past years: The developing pressures over the courses of students’ lives to do better and to succeed creates desperation to do whatever it takes. Thus, “students who are more motivated than their peers by performance are more likely to cheat,” (“Beat the Cheat”). The desperation to succeed changes the way students decipher between right and wrong; once started, cheating doesn’t stop (“Beat the Cheat”). From there, they begin to develop a mindset that focuses on getting that A in the class to satisfy their parents’ expectations or to look good for college rather than benefiting from the lessons taught and applying those concepts in real life situations.

On the other hand, supporters of cheating argue that cheating may be the only option a student has due to uncontrollable circumstances happening in his or her life. Cevin Soling from Wired wrote a straightforward article titled, “Why I Think Students Should Cheat” in which he encouraged to look at cheating not as an act of immorality, but rather as a form of support for students “because it aids a helpless victim who has been involuntarily subjected to unreasonable conditions.” Soling went on blaming educational facilities and the strict systems they impose on students having said that “cheating should be recognized as the necessary and logical outcome of an arbitrary and oppressive institution.” Soling hits some key points in explaining how the stress on grades in the academic system has paved the way for cheating to thrive amongst students and how punishments for cheating have been deemed ineffective due to the fact that cheating still exists in schools to this very day. However, it is still invalid to consider cheating as an “aid” because that excuse does not apply to the majority of students who cheat just to get by with a good grade. What Soling thought was helping students going through serious life problems has actually been helping them hurt their future. Cheating has deprived students of the incentive to work hard and to develop intellectually because now they have access to a much easier route that would save them time and energy.

As technology continues to improve and schools continue to focus more on the value of perfect grades rather than student ability, cheating has become the trap that students unconsciously fall into. And it will continue to be so unless academic dishonesty is more clearly addressed and teachers become more aware of this issue among their own students. For both the student and the teacher, it’s better to be safe than sorry in a society where the pressures of desperate situations can lead to measures that are a bit too desperate.