ERIC Number: ED498963
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-May
Justice or Just Us? What to Do about Cheating. Carnegie Perspectives
Stephens, Jason M.
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Jason Stephens traces the growth of cheating over three decades, noting a disconnect between expressed shock and research that has shown over and over that most students do cheat, at least some of the time. Some students cheat for simple, pragmatic reasons: to get high grades and because they do not have time to do the work carefully. However, the researcher notes findings indicating that students do not generally cheat in all of their classes and that it is not the difficulty of the course that predicts in which classes they are more likely to cheat. High school students, especially, cheat more when they perceive the teacher as less fair and caring and when their motivation in the course is more focused on grades and less on learning and understanding. Students do not seem to feel that it really matters if they cheat under these circumstances. Findings also suggest that students make a distinction between behaviors that are overtly dishonest (such as copying the work of another, which effectively serves to misrepresent one's state of knowledge) and behaviors that are not inherently dishonest (such as working with others, which can serve to enrich one's interpersonal skills and academic learning). Educators, too, should be cognizant of this distinction, writes Stephens, and be judicious in prohibiting collaboration. Even with pervasive student acceptance, the writer does not feel that it is acceptable as a society to tacitly accept cheating as a fact of life. Cutting corners and compromising principles are habit-forming. They do not stop at graduation, as seen in scandals in business and journalism. Cheating or cutting corners in one's professional or personal life can cause real damage, both to oneself and to others. Stephens advocates that it is necessary both to care about and do something about cheating and that the best ways to reduce cheating are about good teaching by: (1) Helping students understand the value of what they are being asked to learn by creating learning experiences that connect with their interests and have real-world relevance; (2) Considering whether some of the rules that are frequently broken are arbitrary or unnecessarily constraining; (3) Connecting assessment integrally with learning, creating assessments that are fair and meaningful representations of what students should have learned; and (4) Giving students images of people who do not cut corners. Finally, Stephens concludes, educators must strive to personally exemplify intellectual integrity, looking for ways to make deep and searching honesty both palpable and attractive.
Descriptors: Student Attitudes, Cheating, Integrity, Ethics, Student Motivation, Student Reaction, Cooperation, Teaching Methods, Tests
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 51 Vista Lane, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel: 650-566-5102; Fax: 650-326-0278; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: High Schools
Authoring Institution: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Menlo Park, CA.