A poll on 356 students at the college revealed about 78 percent of students have cheated on homework in various ways. The Campus Ledger poll was taken last month on students in the food court.
It may not come as a surprise to many students; it seems that creating class group chats where homework is shared or using apps like Photomath to scan and solve math problems has become the norm.
Barbara Ladd, professor, Psychology, discussed how advances in technology have made students more inclined to cheat.
“In this digital age, it is easier than ever to cheat in school and there are certainly many more resources to plagiarize than ever before,” Ladd said. “In general, as with any non-ethical behavior, those with less self-control are more inclined to cheat. While I don’t think cheating is an innate urge, I do think most people are inclined to look for the easiest way to accomplish a task of any sort.”
Tristan Martin, student, said cheating on homework and tests typically stems from lack of preparation. As far as an explanation for why the college’s rate is largely on par with that of the national average, Martin may have an answer.
“Every once in a while, I’m tempted to cheat, but I try not to because I know it’s better to learn through school,” Martin said. “It seems like most cases of cheating are from laziness. I personally work and go to school all day, and studying can be hard to fit in there at times — the busyness of students here [at the college] can make students more likely to cheat.”
Elizabeth Drummond, student, had a different take. Drummond felt that the pressure of succeeding at the college, rather than having a tight schedule, can give students enough stress that they turn to cheating.
“I think students cheat because there is so much pressure to get good grades,” Drummond said. “[The college], for some, is a stepping stone to a higher university, so there is a lot of pressure to get into certain programs or universities. The college is also a second chance for those who didn’t do well at a university — in both cases, there’s stress toward getting your GPA higher.”
Ann Lathrop, author, claimed that the reason behind some students’ cheating is that they simply don’t know the material. She discussed this in her novel, Guiding Students from Cheating and Plagiarism to Honesty and Integrity: Strategies for Change.
“Students find teachers’ failings — real or supposed — useful in justifying cheating,” Lathrop wrote. “The question here is not the difficulty of the tests or the course material. Students speak angrily about teachers who give [homework] that covers material not discussed in class…and they may find it relatively easy to justify cheating in such cases.”
Within the last several years, cheating via internet has become easier to accomplish — with sites selling essays and apps scanning and solving math problems, students have entered a new age of cheating. This is not the only difference Martin has seen between cheating in high school versus college.
“In high school, I didn’t mind cheating as much, but I still wasn’t for it because it’s stealing someone’s hard work,” Martin said. “In college, I’m paying for my education and I’d rather people did things for themselves. I haven’t been here all that long, but since people here are more mature, I don’t think cheating happens as often as in high school.”
Tech-savvy students are always discovering new ways to get out of doing homework or writing essays; so, what can teachers do? Ladd claimed the answer lies in the types of policies teachers can enforce.
“Teachers can help prevent cheating by having strict policies and [doing] all they can to monitor them,” Ladd said. “But, in the end, ethics are up to the individual. Unethical behavior may pay off in the immediate circumstance, but do not accumulate in a life well-lived.”
The development of these policies will come at an imperative time — according to an article published in The Huffington Post, just under 75 percent of college students admit to cheating, which was described in the survey as doing something against the rules to improve their grades.
Although no reason was given in this poll, Drummond said that the times she has felt most inclined to cheat occur when the pressure of college overwhelms a difficult lesson. At these times, cheating may feel like the only course of action.
“Sometimes you can study excessively and still not understand the concept,” Drummond said. “This adds a lot of pressure on top of the stress you already have, and it can push you to do whatever is necessary to get a good grade. There’s a lot of money invested in me to get a degree, and sometimes that thought takes control. If you’re really frustrated with a concept, cheating seems like the only option in the moment.”