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Inside The Cheater’s Mind: Why Do Students Cheat?

Author: Brenda Berg
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The Students Who Cheat

Cheating Hand

A concept that has existed since tests and examinations were introduced to the educational system, cheating is a practice that people, especially students, are infamous for. In regards to why these students cheat, you wouldn't be alone in thinking somewhere along the lines of 'Because they didn't pay attention in class so now have to cheat to be able to pass the test'

In most cases, allegations of laziness, recklessness or short attention spans are to blame, but is this really the ideology behind the age-old practice? What is cheated isn't as bad as we make it out to be? After all, it could be viewed as a responsive survival reflex.

Let's set the scene. You're at work, or even in a home environment, and you're about to carry out a specific task, for example, you need to change a light bulb in your car or your boss has asked you to input some data onto the computer system. If you're unfamiliar with changing a light bulb in the car or haven't used the software on the computer before, what's the first method you would follow to complete the task?

If you're like the vast majority of people reading this, you would have said something along the lines of 'search online for instructions' or even 'ask a friend/colleague'. Now, that seems perfectly acceptable and quite an approved method to go and complete a task. So why in the setting of say, a school exam hall, is this not allowed?

Granted, a school exam is to test the students’ individual learning ability but, at the end of the day, surely if the student is putting down the right answer on the test sheet, they have effectively solved the problem? However, with modern advances in technology, the plot thickens.

 

How Technology Is Changing the Playing Field

According to a HigherEd Morning survey, 26% of students stated that they record information on their smartphones prior to the examination to use as a reference whilst under test conditions. Other answers from this survey included taking pictures of the tests to send to friends, researching answers online and texting between friends to share answers. Nearly 25% of students who admitted to cheating didn't even believe that what they were doing was cheating and described the action as 'help'.

Jake Fox, a writer at Academized explains, “Students are becoming more and more ingenious with their methods of cheating. With technology such as smartphones and smart watches becoming more and more accessible and streamlined, soon it will be nearly impossible to stop students cheating, especially when it comes to taking exams. With many devices able to send messages instantly, take high resolution photos and have the ability to connect to super-fast networks such as 4G, the practice of cheating will only become more streamlined, the more technology develops”.

This trend continues throughout the individuals’ educational lifetime with 56% of scholars exclaiming that they have copied information from online sources. On top of that, 36% believe that paying for and downloading an essay assignment off the Internet is not cheated and 27% of students confessed that they have asked professional essay writing service to do their assignment for them and 42% believing that it should be deemed as a slight breach of the rules instead of being so punishable.

 

So, Why Do Students Feel The Need To Cheat?

As stated in the introduction, if you were to ask a friend or 'Google' something in the real world, this is sociable acceptable yet the same cannot be said in an educational environment. With this mind, one theory suggests that students have already noticed, from a young age, that real life and 'educational' life are two completely different things.

This detachment, thanks to a range of reasons such as an outdated education system, could be the cause of why some students cheat. One study on cheating even found that external factors, such as the lighting in a room would determine whether someone is more likely to cheat or not as a darker room would help to create the feeling that the individual was less likely to get caught.

With numerous completed studies, the majority of the results suggested that the practice of cheating always came back to the individuals’ morals. The results in some people, individuals that valued personality traits such as fairness, compassion and honesty, simply wouldn't cheat at all, no matter what situation or environment they were placed in.

Jason Morris, a lead writer at Australian Help explained another reason why students may cheat, “We receive a ton of orders from students, varying from high school years to scholars working towards a PhD, especially in the months and week leading up to the last days of the educational year. Last year, nearly 60% of the orders made by students matched this description and, when surveyed through site feedback, nearly 80% of these students were requesting these assignments due to a complete lack of time the students had to complete the work”.

Is the current education system simply applying too much pressure to students, forcing them to find alternative methods to help them achieve their workloads?

To summarize, the reasons we cheat can vary from person to person. Research suggests that technology has played a huge role in enabling groups of people to cheat more often and more effectively although studies suggest there is a vast range of factors to consider that make us more or less likely to cheat. The question will always remain of whether cheating should be frown upon and even punishable or maybe it's not as condemnable as we first thought.


About the Author

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. She is self-motivated results driven individual who is encouraged to travel around the world and share gained experience.


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3 Comments

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  • A concept that has existed since tests and examinations were introduced to the educational system, cheating is a practice that people, especially students, are infamous for.
  • According to a HigherEd Morning survey, 26% of students stated that they record information on their smartphones prior to the examination to use as a reference whilst under test conditions.
  • With technology such as smartphones and smart watches becoming more and more accessible and streamlined, soon it will be nearly impossible to stop students cheating, especially when it comes to taking exams.
  • Research suggests that technology has played a huge role in enabling groups of people to cheat more often and more effectively although studies suggest there is a vast range of factors to consider that make us more or less likely to cheat.