Consequences of student cheating on exams

Cheating comes in many varieties. Someone may copy a math problem from another student's assignment. Cheating has come to a new level with the growing use of technology in our home and professional lives, some students have begun utilizing technology to cheat. It has been documented that as early as high school, students are more often caught using electronic devices to either locate or share answers to tests with friends than the 'old' forms of cheating through passing notes in class or whispering answers to each other. In other cases, often with more serious consequences, some college students have gone as far as download papers from the Internet to pass off as their own work.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the definition of plagiarism; attempt to explain why it happens, and what can be done about it. Then, we will discuss some examples of using technology to cheat such as sending text messages from cell phones and using the Internet to either knowingly or unknowingly commit plagiarism. Finally, we will analyze how some teachers are implementing new ways to detect, as well as stop, this behavior and how parents can ensure that their students understand the seriousness of plagiarism.

There is a belief that there is a good deal of cheating in most college classes that seems to be widely accepted. As a usual thing the amount of cheating supposedly or actually taking place is attributed simply to the dishonesty of the students, and the only measures usually taken to prevent it consists of stricter supervision or examinations. (Gillentine, Jul 1937). Some of the things that would cause a student to cheat on an examination are as follows: A student might cheat if the subject matter on which he was to be examined had not been well organized and clearly presented. The student felt he could not be reasonably sure what to expect on the exam and could therefore not be prepared to pass it honestly.

Even though the other conditions were what they should be, an otherwise honest student might be driven by fear to cheat on an examination if he knew that the whole grade for a course depended on the exam, especially when it seemed to him almost a life and death matter that the he passes the course.

There are a multiple number of ways that students cheat. These include crib notes, plagiarism from another paper or the Internet, copying, or giving test questions to a classmate. One other major concern for Professors is the degree of cheating that occurs for the online environment and how to prevent it. Many online instructors know that a great deal of cheating goes on during a test that is given online. Students often have materials at hand and ready to use during tests, as well as the Internet that is readily available to quickly look up factual answers. As today's technology continues to advance, it is thought that the students that are taking distance learning classes are more motivated than those who attend classes. There is no one to push them to turn in their assignments or to ask where their assignment is.

Although it takes a motivated and disciplined person to attend online classes, it is still possible for one to cheat in the online environment if they are computer savvy enough to know what to do. They could install spyware to check out another student's computer and see how they are answering the questions or check out the instructor's computer to see what they are typing on their computer. This typically can only happen when students are taking an online exam at a given time. On another note, who is to know if a student is alone when taking an exam? The student could live close enough to another student that they could get together to take the exam or worse yet, they could get someone to take the exam for them. Just because a person signed in with their password, does not mean that person is the one who is actually taking the test at the other side of the computer screen.

Instructors are using different strategies to be certain that their student does not plagiarize. Having good strategies in place for students will possibly avoid any mistakes. Instructors inform students what plagiarism is and all the different ways that plagiarism can be committed. Students are provided with manuals regarding plagiarism by their Instructor. All students should know how to paraphrase, summarize, quote and cite any information that is not their own property. Web sites can also be provided to students on plagiarism and others sites that can provide help with citing material. Instructors can use many different techniques to detect plagiarism. They should be aware of his or her students writing capabilities. By knowing this, he can perhaps know if a student has actually done the work himself or used other sources. The instructor can look for words that are out of the student's usual vocabulary.

Another step would be to look for inconsistency in the document. For instance, if some parts of the paper are written unsatisfactorily compared to the rest of the document, this could be a sign of plagiarism. The instructors can look for differences in the format, fonts or layout of the documents. There are many websites that the instructor can use to check for plagiarized documents. In order to do this the instructor can type certain phrases in the document in the search engine. Also there are websites that provide instructors with information regarding plagiarized documents. Student caught with plagiarism will receive a failing grade, and suffer more consequences as deemed by the Instructor.

In our society, we are pushed to get as much done as possible and as quickly possible. It could be deduced that students are under too much pressure in school and would do anything to keep up. Although this simple explanation is understandable, it is not an excuse for cheating. Cheating is a moral decision; therefore, increased use of technology cannot be blamed for the way some choose to utilize it. Parents should begin in the early years, to teach young students the importance of completing one's own work and reward that work. This will lead to an adult student that recognizes the importance of honesty in the academic environment and who fully understands the impact that plagiarism could have on his or her education.

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