Despite knowing that they may get caught, many students still choose to cheat. In a study done by Northumbria Leaning over half of the respondents supported the use of anti-plagiarism software but still thought that they could get away with it (Lagerkvist, 2006). Cheating has blossomed in pace with technology. With all the answers at their fingertips, how will today’s students learn the consequences of cheating?
Students today cheat for a number of different reasons. First among these is the fact that it is easy to do. Not only does the technology available today make cheating easier than ever, but since cheating is so prevalent it is possible to find likeminded co-conspirators quite easily as well as non-cheaters who are willing to keep silent. “In McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield's (1999) qualitative research, a number of students expressed considerable concern about peer reporting decisions and a reluctance to report others, especially friends” (McCabe & Trevino, 2001).
Unfortunately, cheating may be passively or actively encouraged by instructors, the very people who should be acting as positive role models to their students. “Incentives to bend the rules are strong in the No Child Left Behind era, when persistently low scores can shut down a school, trigger a takeover or force teacher transfers” (Asimov & Wallack, 2007). Unless the school administration takes a firm stand against cheating, teachers may feel pressured to ignore less blatant forms of cheating in the classroom.
Students may cheat unintentionally simply because they do not truly understand what constitutes cheating. Without specific direction, they may be confused over what is illegal. If students can download songs and movies from the internet, and edit “authoritative” content on Wikipedia without citing anyone, it becomes easy to understand why they may think that downloading and editing someone else’s ideas is acceptable as well. Fortunately, there has been some increase in education on cheating, even at the elementary school level. The Educational Testing Service launched a campaign specifically targeted at pre-teens that aims to educate about the downfalls of cheating (Abramovitz, 2000). This is but one example of a growing societal awareness that cheating has consequences, even if the offender is not caught.
Blake writes that society today seems to believe that “the only learning worth doing is that which can produce measurable indicators of economic success, and that failure is too fearsome to contemplate (Blake, 2000). Fear of failure is the ultimate driving force behind cheating. Pressure to get into a good college or the college of their choice can cause otherwise upright people to make bad decisions. Students know that a good college is also the entry into a good career. There may be family or peer pressure for students to achieve certain grades and be accepted to certain schools. Since education is valued so highly in our society many...