Cheating in University

Recent surveys have shown that upwards of a quarter of students in college are cheating, causing the education system to lag behind in catching them.

One year ago, Harvard University was rocked by a cheating scandal when news of 125 students were to be investigated for cheating on a take-home final exam. After the dust had settled, 70 students were forced to withdraw, with the highest-profile being basketball players and senior co-captains Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey. Each took the 2012/13 year off because of their roles in the cheating scandal, with Casey working at a non-profit foundation and Curry as a registered life insurance salesman.

 

But Curry and Casey are only two—albeit high profile—examples of cheating that takes place on college campuses. One of the causes is a looser definition of cheating. It's easy to say that looking at another student's paper and copying the answers directly is cheating, but harder when it comes to something like a classmate telling you what's on a test when you haven't written it yet.

Cheating can be even harder to pinpoint with education firmly in the digital age. On a take-home test, is collaborating on answers cheating? Discussing answering strategies? Looking up past tests? Another cheating strategy has little to do with the test itself, as students are taking drugs to sharpen their minds during exams, calming their nerves and keeping them laser-focused.

Despite the problem of even being able to stringently define what cheating is, there lies another: how schools are—or aren't—managing with the problem. The Lompoc Record, a newspaper in California, has reported that a set of three studies at Ohio University uncovered 72.5% students having reported cheating in online work. The fact that students had to sign an honor code didn't dissuade almost three-quarters of them from cheating, and it's clear that schools have a long way to go before they can adequately stamp it out.

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