Survey: As Pressures Increase, More High School Students Turn to Cheating. (News Connection)

By Branch, Al | Curriculum Administrator, August 2001 | Go to article overview

Survey: As Pressures Increase, More High School Students Turn to Cheating. (News Connection)


Branch, Al, Curriculum Administrator


According to a recent three-quarters of the nation's high school students admit to cheating at least once or regularly in the past year, an alarmingly high percentage that the author of the study says may not decrease any time soon.

By all accounts, cheating is nothing new in academia. As long as there are students, there will be students who cheat. But, what is frightening--what should be the wake-up call to educators--is the pervasiveness and cavalier attitude today's students seem to have toward cheating, according to the study conducted by Donald McCabe, a professor of faculty management at Rutgers University.

Seventy-four percent of the respondents "admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on a test or examination," the report says. McCabe describes serious cheating as copying from another student on a test, or using crib notes. Another 72 percent of the respondents admitted to plagiarism and/or turning in work that was done by `someone else. Also, 23 percent of the students say they have also committed other forms of cheating, namely collaborating on assignments with others when teachers expressly asked for individual work.

McCabe surveyed a total of 4,500 students, half of whom were juniors, at 25 high schools across the U.S. He originally mailed out 5,000 questionnaires. Eleven of the 25 schools were private.

In addition, 47 percent of the students say that their teachers sometime ignore signs of cheating, such as when a teacher sees two or more students stealing glances during a test. And, 26 percent of those surveyed believe that their school's bureaucracy is such that some teachers would rather not go through the hassle of reporting instances of cheating. Other reasons students gave for why some teachers don't report cheating were that teachers simply don't care, the teacher likes the student and the teacher feels sorry for the student.

Asked whether he thinks students--deep down--wanted to cheat, McCabe told CURRICULUM ADMINISTRATOR that he feels it partly comes down to a matter of whether or not the student is engaged in the course. "I think there are a lot of students who want to cheat, but really only if they didn't care about the course or the teacher, or if they were forced to take the class."

Cheating is not just the domain of high schools. In fact, in late June, the state of Michigan was grappling with a huge cheating scandal at several of its schools on the Mich-igan Educational Assessment Program. A state report listed 71 schools where written answers on the test were similar at elementary and middle school levels. The matter was being investigated and administrators at some of the schools were lashing out at Gov. John Engler and others for unfairly branding their schools. …

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