How High School Students Think about Cheating

Thou Shall Not Cheat?
How High School Students Think about
Monica J. Kowalski, Ph.D.
ACE Consulting, University of Notre Dame
Research conducted at
The Ohio State University
Do YOUR students cheat?
 Generally, research has shown high rates of cheating
in high school
74% admitted to cheating on tests (McCabe, 2001)
Nearly all students report cheating when other assignments
are included (Miller et al., 2007)
Cheating tends to increase from K-12 and decrease again
during college years
High school is peak time for cheating
The Study
 Research Objectives:
To examine high school students’ perceptions of cheating in
academic settings
To examine the cheating patterns and beliefs among students
relative to their school (Catholic vs. public, high vs. low
The Study
 Schools:
 Highly affluent school in high performing public school district
High poverty urban school in low performing public school
Catholic high school, racially and socioeconomically diverse
The Study
 One-on-one, semi-structured interviews
39 ninth- and eleventh-grade students
14 Catholic school, 25 public school students
Part 1: General questions about cheating in their school
Part 2: Specific questions about own cheating
 ALL students reported cheating
 Catholic school students no less likely to cheat than public
school students
 Decision to cheat related to probability of getting
Cheat less with stricter, more vigilant teachers
 Catholic school students more frequently talked
about consequences of cheating
Demerits, Saturday schools, meeting with Dean
 Excessive workload = pressure to cheat
 Meaningful assignments = less cheating
 Strict discipline = less cheating
 Do teachers care if students cheat?
High variability
Perception of condoning cheating for high performance
…But what else?
 No perceptions of moral issues
 No connection to Gospel/religious values
 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he
who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” –
Proverbs 10:9
 “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the
Lord's sight but also in the sight of man.” –
2Corinthians 8:21
So what?
 Cheating in school = cheating in life?
 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in
much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also
dishonest in much. “ –Luke 16:10
What can we do?
 Talk about it
 Improve conditions
 Take consistent action
“One of the stated goals of X school is to provide
opportunities for students to achieve their maximum
academic potential and to master various learning
techniques. The achievement of academic potential and the
mastery of learning techniques require honest and
consistent effort by the student. These goals are
underminded by plagiarism and other forms of cheating.
Therefore, each student is expected to submit only his or
her own work on tests and assignments (including daily
homework). The student should acknowledge all sources of
information on research assignments. The student should
neither give nor receive assistance on tests.”
“A student shall not cheat on tests or other school
assignments, or plagiarize. Any student caught
cheating on a quiz, test, or project will receive a zero
and may be subject to disciplinary action. Any student
who steals the instructional materials from a teacher
or staff member will be subject to disciplinary action.
Any student, who knowingly provides a term paper,
project or test information for another student will be
subject to disciplinary action.”
“X holds itself to the highest standards in all endeavors
and defines excellence as achievement with integrity.
The core values of honesty, fairness, and responsibility
are central to the discussion of academic integrity.
There can be no excellence without strong
commitment to these values. Violations of academic
integrity will be dealt with seriously and consistently,
but also with understanding, compassion, and with
education in mind. Instances of dishonesty, however,
cannot be excused, and if the nature and extent of the
pattern of misconduct warrants it, a student may be
dismissed from the school.”
“The school community strives to implement moral values in all
aspects of the school’s operation. Understanding the moral
responsibility of the school as a Christian community to address
the issues involved when academic violations by students occur,
the following policy has been established to deal with these
academic violations…
…. The student will then meet with the Dean of Academics, who
will make a record of the violation. ..The purpose of this meeting
is not to be seen as punitive, but rather as pastoral. The Dean
will dialogue with the student for the purpose of determining
the root causes of the behavior and choices that led to the
violation. It is the goal of the meeting to help the student
recognize his responsibilities as a student of X and a citizen of
the United States to act with integrity and honesty.”
“Learning is the pursuit of truth. As truth is the goal,
truthfulness must also characterize the pursuit. Each
student’s academic integrity is of paramount
importance and must be preserved for the student’s
moral good as well as that of the school. Just as
academic integrity must be preserved, academic
dishonesty must be intolerable. Should a student
choose to be dishonest, the student will suffer the
consequences outlined below. All students sign the
Honor Code as part of their Commitment to the High
School Mission.”
Talk about it
 Clearly define cheating
 Mission-driven policy
 Moral and religious rationales
 School and classroom level discourse
Improve Conditions
 Workload awareness
 Meaningful work
 Authentic and/or personal assignments
Take Action
 Consistent monitoring
 Consistent enforcement
 Mission-driven consequences
 Opportunity for formation
Thank You
 Questions?
 Comments?
 [email protected]

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