Cheating culture: The problematic increase in academic dishonesty among students because of eLearning
BY RYAN MERARD
Since the awakening of the COVID-19 pandemic, school tasks have been fully online, leaving students with the only option of getting their education through a computer. This seemed like a relatively quick switch at first, yet has resulted in a huge change of scenery for the academic environment.
Cheating is always an infamous topic when school is involved, but having students go online full-time brings cheating culture to another level. Asking a friend for help every now and then may not be as bad if the student still tries to learn on their own for the most part. However, when a bad habit of cheating comes into play—a habit where students don’t even try on assignments or tests because they’re online—is when cheating can take a toll on a student’s education, whether it be just in that moment or in the future as well.
The online setting makes cheating easier than ever, and there seems to be no real solution to it. Canvas has features such as Turnitin to check for plagiarism and Honorlock proctoring that allows teachers to see if a student leaves a tab during a test. These still hold no real boundaries on multiple-choice exams, though, when students can easily share the answers with each other.
The online setting makes cheating easier than ever, and there seems to be no real solution to it.
It could seem so easy at times to just text a friend or a classmate for answers to an assignment, but then those answers could just continue to spread around. What this can do, is alter a student’s mindset towards homework. Something that is supposed to reinforce the lessons learned during the day may turn into tedious tasks in the eyes of a student, which makes it so easy and convenient to just cheat on them instead of using the assignment for its actual purpose.
Even if a student is getting answers from their peers, in the physical setting they would still be learning somehow as they would be writing out the words. With a computer document though, students can simply send the assignments to each other electronically, allowing them to submit documents without even looking at them. As irresponsible as it may seem to not even try to change the assignment a little bit, blatant cheating is something that several teachers have had to face in this era of eLearning.
“I have had students forget to change the name on assignments and submit a peer’s work verbatim,” Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Marine Science teacher Sarah Solodokin said. “Also, I have students who copy and paste direct works from the internet and leave the hyperlinks, or students just do not hide the fact that they have cheated.”
“I have had students forget to change the name on assignments and submit a peer’s work verbatim.”Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Marine Science teacher Sarah Solodokin
This present “cheating culture” also can have more damaging effects than merely changing one’s mindset. With Advanced Placement (AP), Cambridge AICE and other courses like Algebra and Geometry which all require end-of-course exams, students with a habit of cheating would struggle with these exams when the time comes for them.
If a student continues to cheat on just about every assignment or test, it would be very unlikely that they are properly learning the lessons established in class. When the pandemic eases to a level where full-time face-to-face learning can take place, who knows what to expect when students engulfed by “cheating culture” come back to campus and have to work on their own.
As for a solution to this cheating epidemic, there just isn’t a clear or effective option to choose. All teachers can really do is encourage their students to be as honest with their work as they can be. No real action can be used to prevent students from sharing answers for assignments and during tests.
This pandemic has created a new lifestyle for numerous students, and while cheating may seem easier than ever, falling into a habit of cheating can be even more catastrophic. This is why it is important to understand the long-term effects that could come out of the current cheating culture and take individual initiative to avoid partaking in it.
Illustration by Sofie Kahlig