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A Teacher's Guide to Dealing with Cheating

written by: Margie • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/15/2012

How do your students view cheating? Do they know the consequences? Learn how you as a teacher should prepare to deal with this subject and how you can help end cheating in our schools.

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    Are Your Students Cheating?

    Cheating is nothing new. Students have been cheating for as long as there have been students. What is new is that there is an increasing number of cheating students. In 2002, CNN cited a Rutgers Management Education Center study that found that out of 4500 students surveyed, “75 percent of them engage in serious cheating.” Read more here. And what makes this so alarming is that many students really don’t see anything wrong with the cheating. The line between right and wrong as it pertains to cheating seems to be rapidly blurred.

    Many students cheat to relieve some of the academic pressures of school. There is ever-increasing competition to get into “the best” colleges, and many students look at cheating as a way to achieve acceptance to these schools. In fact, three “top tier” high schools were recently in the news due to cheating scandals. All three scandals involved students actually stealing exams from teachers, some students going so far as to break into the school at night to steal a test out of a file cabinet. Read more about it here. (ABC News)

    Some people think that cheating is a normal part of school. They believe that there have always been and always will be cheating students. It has been found, however, that cheating can have far more serious consequences than just a teacher being duped into believing that her students actually understand material they really do not. According to a study conducted by S. Nonis and C. Swift (2001), "students who engage in dishonest acts in college classes are more likely to engage in dishonest acts in the workplace.” (Student Cheating Habits: A Predictor of Workplace Deviance) Obviously, considering the long-term consequences, cheating should be taken seriously and steps to curtail it should be taken immediately, if they have not already been taken.

    To Stop Cheating:

    Plagiarism: If you suspect students of plagiarism, there are Internet sites and software you can use to confirm or disprove your suspicions such as Turnitin.Com.

    Consequences: Make certain there are consequences in place for students caught cheating and make sure are consistent in implementing them.

    Integrity: Teach integrity. While it is not possible for one teacher to instill morality in all students, it is good to teach integrity to your students.

    One way to do this is simply by modeling it for your students. If you see students cheating, do not ignore it, act. In the study by Rutgers referred to earlier, it was found that 47 percent of students believe “teachers sometimes elect not to confront students they know are cheating.” (CNN) Don’t be one of them!

    Do your job well. Model for your students daily how a person of integrity handles his or her job. Do not make personal phone calls while your students are in the room, be prepared for class, etc.

    Talk to your students. Plan a weekly discussion time to discuss different aspects of integrity with your students. Let it be a true discussion, not a lecture.

    Build Their Confidence: Make sure your students know that success is not singularly defined by A’s on tests. With the competition among students to be the best and to get into the best schools, it is easy for them to equate success with perfect academic performance. Let them know perfection is unattainable, no one is perfect, and that is okay.

    The most effective way to stop cheating students is not through punishment or “catching” the offenders, it is by stopping the cheating before it ever starts. Teachers have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of the students they teach. They can help stop the practice of cheating before it becomes any more ingrained in the lives of our students.

Competition In Our Schools

A 4-part-series focusing on competition in our schools today. This series will look at teaching in a competitive environment, the effects of high-stakes testing, and the influence of competition on students and teachers.
  1. How to Succeed When You're Teaching a Competitive Environment
  2. How to Help Students Succeed on Standardized Tests
  3. Pros and Cons of Competition in Our Schools
  4. A Teacher's Guide to Dealing with Cheating