Student cheating survey

My journalism students conducted a survey on cheating last week and 65.8% of our high school students admitted to cheating before. Only 20.6% reported they hadn’t and 13.6% didn’t respond to the question.

I guess I’m not surprised. You only need to walk down the hallway in the morning to see kids “helping” each other with last night’s homework (which they didn’t start until this morning!). I’m all for collaboration and for kids working together and explaining a difficult concept to each other but what I am afraid is that what is probably happening is one person is copying the other person’s homework.

Students also have different opinions of what cheating is.Almost half of the 322 students surveyed do NOT consider copying off someone’s homework as cheating though 87% reported that copying of someone’s test IS cheating.What’s the difference?? See chart (right) for more results

The comments left on the survey were telling. Student gave reasons why or why they did not cheat.

“I didn’t have time to do the homework … I’m too lazy … I forgot my book at home … I wanted an A … My parents get mad at me if I do poorly in school … It’s just easier to copy your friend’s homework … I don’t want to ruin my GPA …I had to work last night …The assignment was “stupid” … Everyone does it … I didn’t want a 0 on the assignment … I didn’t understand the assignment … My friend lets me copy their work … The teacher assigns extremely hard work …So what?”

“Cheating is wrong … The consequences aren’t worth the risk … I’d feel guilty if I cheated … You are only hurting yourself … I don’t want to get caught …It’s not that hard to just do the work … Cheating is bad”

There isn’t as much shame attached to be a cheater these days. Some research I did explained that is was the high achieving AP students and busy athletes who cheat the most. They justify their cheating so they can get into a good college and they explain, “Everybody does it”.

An article titled Everybody Does It” by Regan McMahon, (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 9, 2007) suggests Top 5 Ways to Curb Cheating:

  • Create an honor code with student input so they’re invested in it
  • Seriously punish cheaters according the academic integrity policy
  • Create multiple versions of tests to make purloined answer keys useless
  • Ban electronic devices in testing rooms
  • Develop multiple modes of assessment so the grade is not determined primarily on tests

Doug Johnson is his Blue Schunk Blog suggests:

  • Use performance-based assessments that require personal application of or reaction to the topic
  • Be very clear about what will be tested/assessed
  • Make every assignment a group assignment with expectations that the role of each group member be clearly defined
  • Only make assignments that are actually necessary (Alfie Kohn writes that there is little correlation between test scores and homework?)
  • Eliminate “objective tests” or make them all open book.

So what does this all mean for me? Honestly, I don’t think kids cheat that much in my computer classes because I rarely give “homework” and most assignments are completed in class. Yes, they “help” each other out, but I call that learning. I don’t allow kids to take over the controls of another student’s computer but I encourage collaboration.

I think it is very valid to examine some of the telling reasons why kids cheat. Teachers assign homework and tests to check for understanding and if kids are copying each other’s homework – then the teacher isn’t getting valid feedback and cannot adjust their instruction accordingly. But at the same time, if a teacher is just assigning busy work so they have a “grade” to enter or to “get through” the material, then they are giving the kids too much busy work and the kids know it.

We must discuss cheating with our students. The consequences are too high, now, later on in college and in the business world. Let’s examine our current educational system and devise instruction that is so engaging for students that they WANT to do their best work and are motivated to LEARN.

Isn’t that what this is all about … L E A R N I N G. We need to make that clear.

One Reply to “Student cheating survey”

  1. Great information – I was hoping to use the chart but could not get a clear picture.
    I have been teaching a freshman technology class for the past eight years and have had at least one blatantly obvious cheating incident each semester…knowing that there are more that I would never find. I have realized that some of the technical information I teach is less important that the ethical information I need to teach.

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