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The Roots of Academic Dishonesty Lie in the Deficiency of Educational System

Academic dishonesty includes cheating and plagiarism, the theft of ideas and other forms of intellectual property that occur within an educational setting. In high school, a standard penalty for academic dishonesty is a failing grade, while in college it can result in expulsion. The most widely spread forms of academic dishonesty are cheating and plagiarism. These notions are usually identified, because a clear distinction between the terms is quite obscure. However, the difference exists in the very essence of the given forms of academic dishonesty, which must be pointed out.

Cheating comprises such activities as giving and receiving information during an exam, using and dissemination of unauthorized material during an exam, taking an exam or writing an exam for another person, or asking someone to do so, submitting the same paper for more than one course, misrepresenting and fabricating written work.

Whilst, plagiarism is the use of another writer’s words or ideas without acknowledging the

source; in a word, it is akin to theft. In Harvey Gordon’s Guide for Harvard Students plagiarism means “passing off a source’s information, ideas, or words as your own by omitting to cite them – an act of lying, cheating, and stealing.”

Wikipedia defines plagiarism “as a form of academic dishonesty; it is a matter of deceit: fooling a reader into believing that certain written material is original when it is not. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense when the goal is to obtain some sort of personal academic credit or personal recognition.”

Overall, academic dishonesty put down so deep roots in the system of education that now seems practically ineradicable. Statistics shows that academic dishonesty among students has risen dramatically during the past 50 years. Moreover, it acquired various forms, including sharing another’s work, purchasing a term paper or test questions in advance, paying someone to do the work for you.

The article that highlights the most common facts on cheating elicits the fact that the phenomenon of cheating begins in elementary school when children break or bend the rules in the course of competitive games against classmates.

Research about cheating among elementary age children confirms that young children believe that cheating is wrong, but, nevertheless, find it difficult to resist when others offer to break the rules. After all, they are more trustful and don’t have strong and unwavering convictions. At this very age, when the value system is not completely molded and young children fall under the influence of authority easier, they should be imbibed that there is a stigma to being a cheater and plagiarizer.

Speaking about academic dishonesty in high school, it is important to mention that it culminates during high school when about 75% admit to some sort of academic misgivings. Moreover, high school students are less likely than younger test takers to report cheaters, because it would be “tattling” or “ratting out a friend”.

High school cheaters usually don’t give up their cheating habits in college and in their future job. What is more, their cheating techniques become more sophisticated, and they are less likely to get caught, being fully versed how to twist their professors round their fingers.

What stands behind academic dishonesty?

The irrefutable fact is that the scale of academic dishonesty increases with each year to come. Undoubtedly, there are a slew of ulterior reasons that force students to trick their instructors. Why even the best students feel compelled to cheat. We will try to figure out the most common causes, which stand behind academic dishonesty.

• Many students blame their high workload. In fact, students are always up to the elbows in work. Their life is so hectic that at times they can’t manage to juggle life, work, studies, and friends. So, they are compelled to look for the way out of the situation, asking for help other people and excessively resorting to the help of the Internet.

• Good students plagiarize because they feel pressure from family and peers. They want to maintain established reputation and don’t want to do modestly well, because they got used to be at the top of the class. Good students don’t want to undermine their authority. The new research has shown that in the past it was the struggling student who was more likely to cheat just to get by. Today it is above – average college bound students who are cheating.

• No wonder that in the intense competition, students do everything to go ahead. According to the 1998 poll of Who’s Who Among American High School Students, 80% of the country’s best students cheated to get to the top of their class.

• There are demands from society for people to be knowledgeable. Having overloaded schedule and stressful life, students can’t cover all the facets of knowledge. Naturally students are eager to meet the demands of society, getting good job, earning much money, and they vigorously try to elbow the way through the crowd to the top.

• “The grading system fosters competitive, zero-sum game spirit in which if one wins, the others lose.” Grades have been made the major focus of many students, and there is a great pressure for high grades. In the contemporary educational system grades measure not only the abilities of students, but also talents, potential, and even the individual prestige and authority of the students among their peers.

• Students cheat because they see others cheating, they don’t want to be unfairly disadvantaged. Freshmen see that cheating and plagiarism are a campus norm and they go with the stream. What is more, they see cheating in every facet of life: politics, business, home, and school.

What can be done to diminish the scale of academic dishonesty?

Reading Donald Norman’s article “In Defense of Cheating”, I excerpted one passage, which offers a very sensible solution to the cheating problem.

“We could change the educational system to make it more relevant to the world, to teach proper social skills, and at the same time eliminate the deceitful, hidden acts of cheating by recognizing cheating for the good that it brings: group activities toward a common end.”

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