Cheaters Never Prosper, Except When They Do

“Someone wanna type my journalism article for me? $20 for a complete assignment lol.” Send.

Yes, it is that easy to cheat on assignments in today’s world. Technology has been able to revamp the way students learn both in the classroom and out of it. It has opened new doors that have the potential to make cheating easier than ever. Students can cheat on assignments in lots of ways, whether it is buying someone’s old poster for a presentation or paying someone to finish your essay that you waited last minute to do. The question still remains: is it as easy as sending a text in a group chat? The Central High School Journalism Team decided to monitor each stage of the cheating process to see just how accessible cheating is as an option.

The way students can communicate and trade assignments with each other has rapidly evolved alongside the new platforms of social media and phone software. The Central High School Journalism Team found the best way to get an assignment done is to send a text in a group chat of peers in the same class or on someone’s snap story so it can reach a wider audience.

It is obvious students can accomplish cheating with ease, but still, there are lurking questions that need to be answered in order to be able to better understand this behavior and process. What is considered cheating? What do teachers do to combat it? What are the consequences if someone were to get caught? How does cheating vary between different assignments and courses? Perhaps the most important, why do students cheat?

The project was started by team members setting out to find proxies or “middlemen” to do the asking. The reason behind this was to disconnect our team from the situation and to protect everyone’s identity. All they had to do was put out an actual assignment, given to a senior class, for someone to complete. Convincing people to be the middleman was not easy. After hearing they would have to send screenshots of the conversation to us they would back out. We finally managed to hunt one down and the assignment was officially out for other student to do.

Within 10 minutes of having our assignment put out we got a response.

What we received were pictures of every question answered on a separate sheet of paper. In an instant, a student could have a completed report over a book and get an A on the assignment.

There is a large bridge that has to be crossed in order for students and teachers to understand each other. Part of the problem is inevitable based off the fundamental flaws in the school system all across the United States, not just Central High School. In this exposé the Central Journalism Team delves into this messy conflict which is filled with not only misinformed sides of the spectrum, but also moral conflict. Both teacher and student interviews will be presented so it is easier to comprehend both arguments and inform the public. In the end it may not be a matter of who is right and who is wrong, but a more pressing question. What needs to change?

“Send me the answers??”: How Phones Affect Cheating

Cell phones have made cheating even easier. Now all students have to do is go to Google and search for their answers. Cell phones allow students to have all of the answers on Google in their pocket.

With your cell phone at your i=disposal you can have easy access to the internet. Certain classes have their entire quizzes and worksheets on the internet. Students are able to quickly pull up the answers and copy them down.

“It makes you feel relieved because you don’t have to put that much effort into the assignment,” a senior student said.

Another way that students use cell phones to cheat is that they send answers to each other. Usually, this is done on SnapChat or through text messages. Students from central high school can also confirm this when a student said ,” Yea i’ve helped my friends out with on test and stuff I just sent them pictures of the answer sheet.

Some students are even in group chats together, where nearly the entire class is in one large group chat. In these group chats, students send answers to each other, quickly and discreetly sharing the answers with nearly the entire class.

“The night before the test, other students would ask for the quiz prep. It would always be that kind of stuff. You have to have that done to take the retake, so people were desperate to get it done,” admits one senior student. Cell phones are not going away and teachers and students could agree to that because it helps students to get their task done easier.

“In future situations if I don’t understand an assignment or test i’m gonna use my phone to cheat because if that’s what’s gonna help me then i’m going to use the resources on my phone.

Despite making it easier to cheat students and teachers don’t see phones going away anytime soon and with them always around students will find new ways to cheat. It is not like there isn’t anyway to prevent this it is just some teachers approach it differently.

“What’s the worst that could happen?”: School Policy on Cheating

Like all schools, Champaign Central High School has its own policies and rules regarding cheating.

Champaign Central defines cheating in the Student Code of Conduct:

“CHEATING―To use, submit, or attempt to obtain or provide data/ information dishonestly, by deceit or by means other than those authorized by the teacher.” (page 38, Champaign Unit 4 Student Code of Conduct)

The 2016-2017 Champaign Central Student-Parent Handbook lists the consequences of cheating as follows:

“It is all about honesty. Simply put, students are expected to do their own work. If a student misrepresents another person’s work as his/her own, if the security of any test is compromised, or if a student allows his/her work or answers to be used by others, he/she has cheated. When teachers expect student to gather and use material from outside sources, they will instruct the student about the proper use of that material. In almost every case, if one fails to identify the source of the information and attempts to pass the work off as one’s own, the material has been plagiarized. This includes material from the Internet. If a teacher believes a student has cheated in any way, he or she will: 1. Discuss the incident with the student, 2. Determine if the student has cheated or plagiarized material, and 3. Inform the family. Classroom teachers have individual classroom policies regarding cheating/plagiarism.” (page 24, Champaign Unit 4 Student Code of Conduct)

When a teacher catches a student cheating the results are different than one might expect. Individual teachers create their own policies, that are enforced at the teacher’s own discretion.One teacher may choose to do option one and “discuss the incident with the student,” while a different teacher may enforce option three by “inform[ing] the family.” The rules are ultimately up to the teachers to enforce.

Because consequences are left up to teacher discretion, different students may receive different consequences depending on how the teacher interprets the situation. For instance, a teacher might punish a student who cheats with their phone more than a student who simply copies answers on a piece of paper. These disparities make it so that students are unclear of the consequences of cheating.

“How does it compare to Urbana?”: School Policy Comparison to Other Schools

Comparing Champaign Central High School’s policy on cheating to other nearby schools reveals a shocking revelation; Champaign Central High School, without having a discipline policy on cheating, makes it one of the most lenient schools in Central Illinois.

Most schools take cheating much more seriously. For instance, St. Thomas Moore can get you expelled for cheating. Similarly, Judah Christian can get you suspended for cheating, and will give you a zero on the assignment, whether it be a test or some homework.

Mahomet-Seymour has many possible consequences, none of which are guaranteed to happen, all of which are listed in the table below. The worst of these being suspension, and the best, relative to the student, being notifying the guardian of the student.

Last year in Mahomet, a student was caught in a group chat with all of their peers from the same class. Students were exchanging answers on the assignments, and they were caught.

“Last year, all of the AP and honors classes had a groupchat that shared homework answers to everyone in the class,” the Mahomet-Seymour Junior at the time said. “They got caught. I also got caught cheating on homework once, and I just got a zero. They had to delete the groupchat.”

Urbana does not have any listed consequences, but does say that it will give “serious school consequences.

These comparisons show that Champaign Central High School is, most definitely, one of the least strict schools in Central Illinois when it comes to the cheating policy.

School: Policy on Cheating:
Champaign Central Teacher discretion and a 0 on assignment.

Source: Mr. Yacko, Disciplinary AP

St. Thomas Moore Expulsion.

Source: https://stmcsnc.org/student-handbook

Mahomet-Seymour 1. Notifying parent(s)/guardian(s).

2. Disciplinary conference.

3. Withholding of privileges.

4. Temporary removal from the classroom.

5. Return of property or restitution for lost, stolen, or damaged property.

6. In-school suspension. The Building Principal or designee shall properly supervise the student.

7. After-school study or Saturday study provided the student’s parent/guardian has been notified. If transportation arrangements cannot be agreed upon, an alternative disciplinary measure must be used. The student must be supervised by the detaining teacher or the Building Principal or designee.

8. Community service with local public and nonprofit agencies that enhances community efforts to meet human, educational, environmental, or public safety needs. The District will not provide transportation. School administration shall use this option only as an alternative to another disciplinary measure, when appropriate, giving the student and/or parent/guardian the choice.

9. Seizure of contraband; confiscation and temporary retention of personal property that was used to violate this policy or school disciplinary rules.

10. Suspension of bus riding privileges in accordance with Board policy 7:220, Bus Conduct.

11. Out-of-school suspension from school and all school activities in accordance with Board policy 7:200, Suspension Procedures. A student who has been suspended may also be restricted from being on school grounds and at school activities.

Source: https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/eb6d35290dee1cb017a44203c6e18ad1/MSHS%20Building%20Procedures%202016-17.pdf (pages 19-21)

Urbana Serious School consequences

Source: http://www.usd116.org/uhs/files/2016-17UHSStudentGuidebook-ENG.pdf (page 23)

Judah Christian Suspension, cheating will also result in a zero grade for the test/quiz, assignment, etc

Source: http://www.judah.org/editoruploads/files/secondary%20handbook%202016-17%20rev%208_5_16(1).pdf (page 19)

“I need this grade!”: Why Students Cheat

Nowadays, it is drilled into students’ heads that without a stellar GPA and ACT score, they have no chance at obtaining a quality higher education. At the same time, they are told that without a degree, they will not be able to get a job and be successful as an adult. With so much emphasis put on the importance of higher education, many students feel as though they have two options, those being, to not care and accept bad grades, or, cheat in order to get the results that colleges are looking for. The students who are focused on in this Exposé are the ones who chose the latter.

When asked why they think fellow students cheat, students gave varying answers. A majority of the answers were along the lines of “Kids don’t care as much about getting a good education as they do about getting good grades” or “Teachers care more about grades than our education, why should we?” One student in particular had a good point:

“Students used to take school more seriously because it wasn’t always a right to go to school. It used to be, if you were at school, then you had the privilege to go there, which meant it was more strict and kids tended to try harder. But now everyone goes to school, so there’s always going to be kids who don’t wanna be there and don’t take it seriously. They just want the good grades they need in order to get into colleges.”

Of course, not all students cheat solely because they do not care about school. Several students that were interviewed said that they cheat because they try their hardest in their classes and sometimes still need to cheat to be able to get higher grades. One student said “It’s frustrating to put so much effort into trying to learn the material and it not being enough, but knowing that you need an A in the class to be competitive with your peers. When you can’t get the grades you need on your own, cheating seems to be the only option.” They feel as though accepting the grades that they earn would put them at a disadvantage when applying for secondary education.

A student’s GPA plays a large role in their college acceptance. GPAs are supposed to reflect a student’s work ethic, study habit, productivity, and success. Students are told since freshman year to keep their GPA’s up because colleges will be looking at them. Students compare their GPA’s with other students to see how competitive they are within their own school. It becomes such an important thing to obsess over in high school, that students decide to cheat in order to get the grade that they need to maintain or raise their GPA. One student said, “I’m applying to colleges next year and my GPA just isn’t where it needs to be. At this point, I cheat on assignments just to be able to get it up.”

Students these days are faced with a huge pressure of getting good grades so that they can get into the schools they want and ultimately that will help them do what they want in their lives, and since not all kids are capable of getting those good grades the traditional way, they resort to cheating to get what they need.`

“I literally can’t even”: Why Students Cheat

Teachers say that students cheat because they are lazy. However, there are other complicating factors, many students admit that laziness is a reason why they cheat.

Students are constantly trying to find the time to fit everything in their schedules that needs to be done. When they think one assignment isn’t as important as another, they will often put less effort into it and choose to copy it from somewhere else or look up the answers online. Cheating is a simple way to get an assignment done quickly, which is why so many students do it.

However, from the student interviews, students admitted that many will not put effort in if they feel that the teacher is not putting effort into the work being assigned. When students sense laziness from the teachers side, they are much less likely to put in their full effort when completing work for a class. If students realize teachers are taking assignments directly from websites online, the students will use the online answers keys to copy the answers. If the answer key to the homework is in the back of the book, the student is going to copy it. Challenging students with their schoolwork and preventing cheating starts with the teacher’s preparation and effort. Students can and will pick up on the teacher’s motivation, and often times they will mimic it.

Rather than teaching themselves or learning from one another, students often copy work from another student when they do not understand the material. Students say they feel that the assignments they cheat on are not valuable to their education or worth taking the time to understand. Teachers tend to assume laziness is the only reason students cheat, but that is far from accurate.

Interviewing students revealed they have countless reasons they believe cheating is okay or necessary. Social pressures, career goals, higher grades, and low understanding are some of the many reasons our high school students feel inclined to cheat.

“Look, I can’t fail another test!”: Why Students Cheat

One of the reasons students cheat at Champaign Central High School are because they want to appease their peers who give them a certain amount of peer pressure. Students give into their friends because they like to be reliable.

“My friend needed me because she wasn’t there when we got the notes for the quiz,” a student said, “instead of giving [the notes] to her, I just sent her pictures of my test since she was in a different period than I am in. I wasn’t just going to let her fail.”

The student felt like he needed to do this because he felt that his friendship was more important than a grade on a test and so he took a picture of his and sent it to her, she was a good friend to him and he just thought that he needed to pull in this one favor to show that he was committed to the friendship.

Students will cheat in more classes with a harder curriculum because students don’t always know how to do the course material. They are also more cheated in because of the high expectation that the teacher has in them to succeed. The teachers expect the students to already know the material or have an idea of what is going on in the class. When the teacher doesn’t put in the effort to teach his students, the students don’t put in the effort to do the work.

When the teacher shows that the grade is more important than the learning in the class then the students don’t really feel like they are getting a good education, they feel like the teacher isn’t putting much effort in to teach and because the pressure is so high on the grade the students will do anything to get a high grade and not go to the failing mark.

A student said, “I will do anything to keep my grade high in [Chemistry] because the teacher puts pressure on the grade than on the actual learning of the material.” The student felt this way because the pressure from the teacher and his parents to keep his grades high just got to him so he started cheating and it has gotten him this far and his parents are proud of him and the teacher gives him the credit he deserves, neither his parents or his teacher know that he is cheating.

Another reason students cheat is because they want to attend social events and they want to maintain their reputation.  Social events are a big thing for athletes and students and if you have a failing grade then you are on social probation in order to get off then you get your grade up and the fastest way to do that is to cheat off of someone that will let you cheat. They also do it to maintain their reputation.

Peer pressure in Advanced Placement (AP)  history classes because everyone else is doing it. One student said, “I cheat because I see people in my class doing it. It seems like everyone is doing it these days.”

The peer pressure that “everyone is doing it” so they have to cheat too. The amount of peer pressure to cheat is high and that’s why students cheat because they see their peers are doing it and passing and so they do it and they see the result of them passing without having to do the work.

In conclusion the pressures from school and society have a big impact on students cheating, from “Everyone is doing it” to “I just want to get a better grade, students have the reasons and the resources to cheat and they succeed as well.

“Ugh, another survey?”: Student Survey Data

To get an idea of how Central’s students view cheating, we asked junior and senior students to take a survey about what it means to cheat. Most of the students didn’t respond and because of this it’s difficult to say that this applies to majority of the school population.

Out of 21 students, 57.1% of the students took majority Academic classes and that 71.9% were involved in the community. Majority of these students were also female. Out of these students, 42.9% of them were White, 38.1% were African American/Black, 14.3 % were mixed race and 4.8% of them were Asian.

When asked whether or not they cheated in the last week, 90.5% of the students said that they hadn’t. We also found that 47.6% of the students cheat at least once a week. At Central, 90.5% of the students said that they never paid someone to do an assignment for them  We also found that 61.9% of students cheated on their homework and or major assignments  but for the most part, students at Central cheat on minor assignments.

What’s interesting is that 47.6% of these students said that they cheated in their math classes compared to the 9.5% of students in science, 14.3% of students in foreign language and the 4.8% of students who cheat in social studies. The reason for this may be because of how easy it is to cheat in Central’s math classes.

Another interesting thing that we found was that 61.9% of students do not believe sending pictures of your homework to someone else cheating. This may be because of the fact that almost everyone does it so it’s widely accepted within the school and maybe the world.

When students were asked why they thought students cheated, three out of six students said that they thought the students were too lazy and/or didn’t care enough about the work. One student said that they thought students cheated because they don’t understand the material so they cheat to pass the class.

“Cheating? My Students?!?”: What Teachers Think

Cheating occurs through all school systems for various reasons. At Central HIgh School, the teachers express their ideas and feelings on cheating as it occurs in and out of the classroom. When asked, all teachers said that they were aware of cheating in their class.

Teachers also listed the main reasons why they thought students would cheat. Broadly, teachers believed that students cheated because of procrastination, not being prepared, students not caring, or the students were under pressure for a test or grade.

The teachers also admitted it was pretty easy to catch the students in the act due to similar wording, clearly wrong answers, use of cellphones, etc.

An anonymous teacher replied “I’ve caught them taking pictures, or talking about it to other teachers”.

Another teacher said, “I’ve even caught them showing pictures to kids in the classroom, and talking about test questions”.

When asked how the teachers responded to cheating in his class, Mr. Hwang a math teacher at Central, replied “I basically talk to them one on one and then give them a second chance.”

Mr Sitch, a Social Studies/Psychology teacher at Central said he responded with “Use of humiliation as a function of likely existing moral concepts.” Which shows how Sitch relates cheating to their own ideas of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.

A teacher who wished to remain anonymous said they would respond to the situation by “giving the student a 0 on whatever assignment they were cheating on.”  

Teachers were also asked how big of a problem cheating was in their specific class. Teachers believe that it is harder for students to cheat on Math, and Science tests, but with classes like English and History they can easily copy the homework at home. With Math homework teachers are aware that you can copy the answers directly from the back of the book, or even copy directly from a friend.

When asked what have teachers done to prevent cheating Mr.Hwang replied “I try talking one on one with the student which is the best way to understand where they are coming from, and recognize that it is the wrong choice.”

Teachers also voiced that the students who were most likely to cheat were honors students. Also Mr.Reid said the kids who are most likely to cheat are “the ones who aren’t used to low grades, from parents at home”. An anonymous teacher replied “Honors students because they care more about their grades”.

At Central most students participate in cheating. Although teachers are aware of this there is not always something they can do about it.

“It’s not my fault!”: How Teachers Affect Cheating

A teacher’s role in the act of students cheating plays a huge part in the stereotype that comes forth to society. A common accusation is for society to say that students that cheat are lazy and unmotivated, however, the act of cheating is not entirely the student’s fault.

Each week, teachers push more and more material and coursework onto students. A lot of times, more coursework is added onto a student’s plate, before the student is able to fully understand the work they were previously given. From this, students are left with few options, as far as making sure the material is fully understood. Teachers forget to remember, high school students have eight classes a day, and only so much time to study for all those classes.

Most teachers, when asked, “do you ever ask your students, when caught in the act of cheating, why they chose to cheat?” replied that they never investigated the motivations. This shows a lack of interest in the wellbeing of the student.When teachers lack a personal relationship with their students, that prevents students from having the desire, or feel comfortable asking for help.

What teachers lack in doing to prevent cheating, is to motivate their students and show value in the coursework. Students are so focused on the grades they get rather than the real life applications they could be making.

“I’ll put in the effort to do the work when teachers tell me that me learning is more important than the grades I get,” a student said.

Teachers, and school institutions in general, don’t really express how grades affect students in the long term. Students fail to recognize, that twenty years after they graduate, it won’t really matter whether they got a A+ or and A- in their algebra 2 class sophomore year. This aspiration is very real for the students in the moment, and leads them to cheating in order to fulfill these short-term non life-threatening situations.

This lack of personalization between course-work and students, caused by the teacher, is the most influential way a teacher causes cheating in their classroom.

“So what?”: Conclusion

 

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