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Cheating: A Norm?


Staff Writer

Fifty-one percent of college students openly admitted to cheating on an exam one or more times over the course of an academic year, according to a study done in 2012 by Best College Reviews.

When put in perspective, it can be seen as more than half of the students enrolled in all colleges and universities. Considering this, cheating seems to be a natural behavior in society today.

Is this a question of character?

Most people would undoubtedly say that it is in fact a question of character, but not one that stands alone. Cheating is most often associated with peer pressure, and that is exactly what the previously mentioned study determined as the No. 1 reason why students cheat.

What the study also touched upon was that some students do not even realize they are cheating when they do it. This is not to say that people who look over their shoulder at another person’s paper do not know exactly what they are doing, but rather that with expanding technology, cheating in the form of plagiarism, for example, has become more common and unintentional.

Dr. James Burton, assistant professor of communication arts here at SU, says that he would be crazy to think that cheating does not occur here on our campus.

“I think the most common form is the failure to cite sources of information, or in some cases the use of essays found online or from various shady sites,” Burton said. “In these cases the students often shoot themselves in the foot because the amount of time that it takes to find the essay and the fact that it doesn’t fit the assignment guidelines means that the cheats often get worse grades than they would by doing the work.”

Burton is not alone in this thinking that cheating undeniably occurs. An article written by Richard Pérez-Peña entitled “Studies Find More Students Cheating, With High Achievers No Exception,” explains that there are no particular demographics for those who cheat. Pérez-Peña says that there are students who cheat in order to survive in academia, and students who already succeed in their studies but use cheating as a means for thriving.

In the same article Pérez-Peña states that “a 2010 survey of Yale undergraduates by The Yale Daily News showed that most had never read the school’s policy on academic honesty, and most were unsure of the rules on sharing or recycling their work.”

This raises questions of whether or not colleges make the necessary effort to make their students aware of their definition of cheating, as well as the consequences that accompany it. While all of the blame cannot be placed on the institution, they must take some responsibility for not blatantly distributing and reinforcing information regarding their academic misconduct policies.

Salisbury University has its own academic misconduct policy, and it can be found by an easy Google search or at provost/AcademicMisconductPolicy.html.

While many professors are aware of cheating in the typical classroom, are students similarly aware? Freshman Emily Taggart shares that the cheating she knows about is not typically in the classroom per se.

“I’d say yes. I have friends in some classes who look up the answers to homework and don’t actually do it,” Taggart said. “I’ve heard some people said (sic) they handed in a paper they wrote in high school, but I haven’t witnessed any incidents in the classroom, although I am sure that occurs too.”

It is up to students to use their consciences, will power and morals to resist the urge of cheating on a test or an assignment. Aside from cheating being illegal in terms of plagiarism, as well as dishonorable, it can also become a habit you cannot break throughout your life. If the moral implications of cheating do not turn you off to it, the thought of getting caught cheating in the work world and losing your job might do the trick.

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