Friday, September 7, 2012

The New York Times on Why Students Cheat

The New York Times has an article on why students cheat here.  The article states:

"Studies of student behavior and attitudes show that a majority of students violate standards of academic integrity to some degree, and that high achievers are just as likely to do it as others. Moreover, there is evidence that the problem has worsened over the last few decades. Experts say the reasons are relatively simple: Cheating has become easier and more widely tolerated, and both schools and parents have failed to give students strong, repetitive messages about what is allowed and what is prohibited."

The article continues: "The Internet has changed attitudes, as a world of instant downloading, searching, cutting and pasting has loosened some ideas of ownership and authorship. An increased emphasis on having students work in teams may also have played a role. 'Students are surprisingly unclear about what constitutes plagiarism or cheating,' said Mr. Wasieleski, an associate professor of management."

Cheating happens even at elite colleges, “We want to be famous and successful, we think our colleagues are cutting corners, we’ll be damned if we’ll lose out to them, and some day, when we’ve made it, we’ll be role models. But until then, give us a pass.”

Maybe the problem is that "Few schools 'place any meaningful emphasis on integrity, academic or otherwise, and colleges are even more indifferent than high schools. . .'”

In addition, "Mr. McCabe’s surveys, conducted around the country, have found that most college students see collaborating with others, even when it is forbidden, as a minor offense or no offense at all. Nearly half take the same view of paraphrasing or copying someone else’s work without attribution. And most high school teachers and college professors surveyed fail to pursue some of the violations they find.  Experts say that along with students, schools and technology, parents are also to blame. They cite surveys, anecdotal impressions and the work of researchers like Jean M. Twenge, author of the book 'Generation Me,' to make the case that since the 1960s, parenting has shifted away from emphasizing obedience, honor and respect for authority to promoting children’s happiness while stoking their ambitions for material success. . ."  “Thirty, 40 years ago, the parent would come in and grab the kid by the ear, yell at him and drag him home.”

As I have said before, students who cheat get nothing from their education.  Education should be about learning, not about getting a piece of paper.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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Very troubling, Scott. By the way, Tamar Frankel's book, Trust and Honesty: America's Business Culture at a Crossroad (Oxford University Press, 2006), makes the same and related observations about our culture for honesty more generally, using a number of specific examples. [sigh]

Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: Joan Heminway | Sep 9, 2012 3:35:22 AM

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