Cheating in academic settings is one of the problems that it is often discussed by teachers and journalists. Such behavior can significantly decrease the value of educations; this issue is particularly important when one speaks about different forms of plagiarism. On the whole, cheating is a serious violation of ethical rules adopted in schools or colleges and it should be punished; however, educators should remember only by punishing students they will not be able to cope with this problem. Their main task is to show that the main objective of learning is to gain knowledge and skills, and that education cannot be reduced only to good grades and recognition of other people. This is the main argument that should be discussed in this paper.
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It should be noted that academic dishonesty can take many forms. For instance, teachers pay close attention to plagiarism or presenting the work of other people as one’s own. This importance of this issue should be underestimated because thousands of students can submit essays or term papers that were either copied from the Internet or written by someone else. Very often, such practices may not be detected even by anti-plagiarism software. In his essay The Plagiarism Plague Raymond Schroth argues that cheating in academic setting can make students believe that dishonesty will help them achieve success (Schroth 14). In the future, these people may become managers, public administrators, engineers or other professionals, and they can take credit for the work done by other people. Raymond Schroth argues that “plagiarists present themselves as people they are not” (Schroth 14). This means that cheating in academic settings may have far-reaching implications. Furthermore, these students will not be able to acquire the knowledge and skills that are necessary for good performance in the workplace. So, the task of educators is to eliminate such behavior in academic settings. In part, this goal can be achieved by using anti-plagiarism software or penalizing those learners who use the works of others without acknowledging it. The most lenient sanction is to give a plagiarist a failing grade for the assignment. It seems that this penalty is quite justified.
Nevertheless, educators should not assume that such strategies will be sufficient for the struggle against academic dishonesty. It is necessary to understand the reasons why students can be engaged in cheating or other forms of cheating. The essay written by Alfle Kohn is aimed at identifying some of these factors. For instance, according to the author, learners are more likely to submit plagiarized papers in those cases when they believe that their assignments are irrelevant to their academic or professional interests (Kohn 5). In other words, they do not understand why they should spend their time doing something that will be of little use to them in the future. Moreover, plagiarism is more widespread among people who think that the ultimate goal of education is good grades, rather than knowledge and skills (Kohn 6). These students may be reluctant to do their assignments independently, they are afraid of receiving a poor grade. Moreover, there are many schools that have honor rolls or lists of students who are recognized for their academic achievement. Alfle Kohn argues that the students of these schools can have an extra incentive to cheat because students attach more importance to the recognition of other people, instead of their learning objectives (6). This is another factor that leads to academic dishonesty.
This problem of cheating in academic setting has several dimensions. The development of information technologies has certainly enabled students to use the ideas of others without giving credit to the author. Nevertheless, one should not assume that in the previous years, cheating or plagiarism did not exist. For instance, Alfle Kohn refers to the surveys conducted at the beginning of the twentieth century and in the recent years. According to them, approximately the same percentage of students admitted their academic dishonesty (Kohn 8). Therefore, it is impossible argue that the attitudes or values of learners have changes significantly over time. Overall, these examples indicate that only penalties are not likely to prevent students from plagiarizing or cheating. Teachers should demonstrate the rationale for learning tasks and explain their benefits. Moreover, they should spend more time on discussing academic assignments with students. Provided that it is done, learners will be better able to cope with tasks. This is one of the points that should be kept in mind.
Plagiarism and other form of cheating are regarded as the plagues of the modern educations. Such behavior justifies dishonesty in the daily lives of students and should certainly be penalized. Nevertheless, teachers should not assume that such practices can be attributed only to a person’s lack of ethical principles or values. In some cases, cheating can be the result of poor instruction and inability to motivate students. By looking at the problem of cheating from this perspective, teachers will better address it.
Kohn, Alfle. “Who’s Cheating Whom.” Education Digest, 73.5 (2008): 4-11. Print.
Schroth, Raymond. “The Plagiarism Plague.” America, 2012:14. Print.