If you’ve been a part of any academic setting, you are familiar with the concept of cheating in one way or another. Unfortunately, in most schools, the term is thrown around casually because wherever there is any form of a test, there is always room to get the desired results without following the proper protocol.
People have always found a way around the rules of the system. But why is that? Why is cheating so common in school institutions? What could be so wrong with cheating when it doesn’t harm anyone?
In this article, you will find out:
If we were to define academic cheating as pertaining to one single act, then we would summarize it as using illegitimate means to acquire a higher grade than one would otherwise acquire using proper means.
While the end goal is to get a higher grade, students use several ways to acquire their desired grade. And in our opinion, all of these means qualify as academic cheating. These include:
Students excuse their cheating for the following reasons;
Most students will confess that they have resorted to cheating in a test simply because they felt unprepared to pass at the time of the test. Usually, this stems from a lack of proper planning or an indifferent attitude towards learning as a whole, but whichever they end up cheating in their examinations.
For some students, their self-confidence stems from their academic prowess. Therefore, they go to lengths to pass and curb the shame that they would otherwise feel when they fail in the test.
There are too many papers to submit (assignment overload)
Students get tempted to cheat the most when they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do, assignments they have to submit, and tests to have to read for. And on top of all that, they still have to balance a social life for their own well-being.
At the very core, they understand that they have to pass all the tests they partake in, regardless of how many they are, so they end up cheating in some.
Although few, some students attribute cheating to the subpar standards of their lecturer’s teaching skills. They may feel that either their tutors don’t put enough effort into helping them understand the coursework yet expect them to pass their tests or that what is taught in class appears to be relaxed, yet the tests are far too complex. Thus, the only option they think they have is to cheat and score a high grade.
Of course, parents and teachers play a big role in terms of the expectations they set out for their children/students. The reality is that all students can’t have the same level of understanding, but it is hard to explain that to a lecturer who puts effort into preparing their lectures and parents who work hard to finance their children’s studies.
So to please their parents, regardless of their intelligence level, some students end up cheating to get a good grade and please their parents.
Cheating has become more and more acceptable in everyday society, and interestingly, it is not the ‘dumb’ students who cheat nowadays but rather the more intelligent ones. The reason for this is because they are under constant pressure to maintain their high grades.
The pressure to pass comes from all sides, from the parents to the tutors and even from the student themselves. However, the pressure is especially harder when school institutions only admit the best students.
The desire to get enrolled into such colleges may result in a student using all means to get into them.
This is the simplest reason why most students cheat on their papers. They get used to the cheating culture in colleges because the truth is that there is a huge opportunity and temptation to cheat in colleges that do not have a strict academic integrity policy.
This is to the point that such students feel that they do not have to put extra effort into their studies because on the one hand, ‘everybody cheats’ and on the other hard ‘of the few who are caught cheating, only a small percentage faces severe punishment.’
Whether it be for their egos or to maintain a good, albeit falsified reputation, some students reason that they have to use shortcuts to secure their reputation.
This is perhaps the most selfish reason why some students choose to cheat in their papers and assignments because, in their mind, the end justifies the means.
For such students, there has to be a moral justification such that when someone is hurt due to an action, we can call the action harmful.
Cheating doesn’t harm anyone, right? So the student leaves with a high grade, the parent/ guardian/ sponsor is pleased with the student’s results, and the tutor is also happy about his or her student's passing.
So why is cheating in school so wrong?
According to a research study, cheating in higher education is an issue globally, with students perceiving it from an ethical perspective. Academic integrity matters a lot, and if there is anything that affects it, it is cheating in exams, written assignments, and online classes.
The purpose of education is to inform students. As such, tests are a way for the education system to determine whether the students who are under their care have increased their level of knowledge from the moment they began their course work to the designed end period of the coursework.
Cheating negates the whole point of testing students and deprives them of the ability to make progress.
It fails to produce value for the student. In fact, the only good thing that the students acquire from cheating is a meaningless grade that they can only flaunt for a limited amount of time. When one truly ranks the amount of knowledge acquired, the student stands at a loss.
The education system is built on mutual trust between teacher, student, and parent. It states that the parent/ guardian will provide the payment for the teaching services, the teacher will educate the student, and the student will commit themselves to learn from their teachers.
Tests are thus established to assess the progress of the student. When the student cheats on a paper, their money goes to waste because their child is not getting what they have paid for.
Additionally, the teacher’s efforts go to waste, and the student’s time is also wasted. So at the end of the day, cheating is a disservice to every involved party.
Most students seldom think about the fact that their lecturers or examiners actually put much effort into teaching them and ensuring that the knowledge they have imparted has actually been instilled in their students’ minds.
The true test of a teacher’s success is in their student’s ability to understand what they have taught. In other words, a teacher is only as good as their student’s success.
By cheating, the teacher is robbed of determining whether they are truly successful in their skill.
Remember, teachers also seek to improve themselves. And they are unable to make any changes to their teaching craft because when their students cheat and pass, they get the idea that their teaching skills are successful.
Cheating is a morally wrongful behavior, as is theft.
When one cheats through plagiarism, they are practically stealing someone’s idea. The idea of a person is their own intellectual property. They dedicate time, put in work, and sacrifice so much on their end to come up with content. Not to mention that much thought goes into creating a unique body of work.
Taking someone’s work and claiming it as your own forfeits all their effort. It is unfair to the person who actually came up with the work.
Cheating can be qualified as good or bad based on what it produces or fails to produce. In this case, it produces laziness.
When students cheat in a test and actually succeed, they conclude that they don’t have to put any effort for them to get their desired results. But in the real sense, nothing comes easy in life, so when students cheat, they only feed into this lousy character.
The moral expectation in any academic setting is that everyone plays by the same rules. Therefore, all students are given the same resources to pass and presented with the same test to gauge their understanding.
When you get the credit for scoring high in a test or possibly being the top student for a test that you cheated on, you rob the actual top student of their position.
It is also unfair to students who get lower grades and then up facing comparison with the student who cheated or got lashed at for not being as brilliant as the other student when they have tried their best in reality.
The effect of cheating is that one gains an unfair advantage over their fellow students because their chances of passing the test are heightened by default.
A student should prosper academically based on their personal effort, and awards should be given based on personal growth.
Students don’t just cheat with no result in mind. Instead, they aim to achieve the desired results with less effort. When students cheat and pass their tests, the action produces arrogance in that they start believing that they are invincible.
The arrogant belief is that they can cheat any system and not face the consequences for it.
Students usually forget that just like them, their teachers were once young. And with life comes experience.
When they cheat via plagiarism, it is disrespectful to assume that a teacher is not aware of the subject matter they are teaching about. It is also insulting to assume that a teacher cannot gauge the level of knowledge they have imparted.
Think of it this way, if a student searches the internet for someone else’s work, so can the teacher. Therefore, to assume that all lecturers are only interested in their paychecks rather than actually imparting knowledge to their students is disrespectful to the entire academic society.
Besides getting good grades through falsified means, the only other benefit that a cheater gains from cheating are getting trained to be a successful serial cheater.
When deciding to cheat, the cheater never realizes that they are losing out on information that could prove handy in later circumstances.
When students succeed in school through cheating, then they end up being unqualified when looking for employment later on as they lack the necessary skills. The bitter truth is that no employer will hire a person who doesn’t have basic skills.
And if they do, they will find it hard to accomplish tasks in a job setting using honest means.
Like we’ve shown above, the consequences of repeated behaviors is that it forms a habit that is hard to break.
If students acquire a position through cheating, then they might eventually get employed by the same means. This means that their future careers are built on cheating, yet the fact is that that they do not have the required skills to perform tasks in the workplace.
When one acquires a high position through cheating, they are less likely to serve with the utmost knowledge and precision than the person who has the actual knowledge
That is how we end up with electricians, doctors, plumbers who perform faulty services and are involved in malpractice. It all stems from people who did not acquire the necessary knowledge to perform those tasks but instead chose to falsify their way into success.
As you can see, cheating is unethical at all levels. Furthermore, it hurts everyone involved more than the student realizes as they decide to cheat. To show that further, let’s have a look at the psychological impacts of cheating in school.
The repercussions of cheating are usually far more consequential than students peg it out to be when they decide to cheat. The effect stretches to great psychological harm for the cheater and society at large. These include;
The actual process of cheating is stressful to the student themselves. There is always the risk of being caught, being penalized, being told on by a fellow student, and at the most extreme end, being suspended from further studies from an institution.
Schools are run by a code that clearly stipulates that cheating of any kind is wrong. To further emphasize this, they set up disciplinary bodies to deal with such cases accordingly.
Some students tend to reason that they end up cheating because they are pressed for time and therefore find a way to compensate. But, ideally, they end up being more stressed because they are aware that all actions have consequences at the back of their minds. And so, in essence, not only do they have to figure out how to cheat, but also how to avoid being caught and being penalized.
The thing about cheating is that it never really ends once the work has been submitted. If the teacher suspects any amount of cheating, the student will eventually have to be summoned for explanation and clarification. At this point, they are usually forced to get stuck in a web of lies because they then have to defend themselves.
The other source of stress comes from the pressure to maintain that picture-perfect image of a high-scorer that has been sold to parents, fellow students, and tutors. By nature, the lie will only keep growing.
When students take credit for someone else’s work and get high recognition, the end result is that some have to live with a guilty conscience. And they have to live with that guilt because they reason that admitting their wrongs will only have greater repercussions that they may not be ready to deal with.
Innately, most people gain self-confidence when they make accomplishments from their work. In the same way, students feel good about themselves when they pass a test through their own effort.
It is a reflection of their learning ability.
However, for some students, having to cheat to pass results in low self-esteem as the student lacks confidence in their learning ability.
In addition, those who get caught cheating suffer low self-esteem from the embarrassment of getting exposed to an immoral act against their fellow students.
The reality is that the student who cheats deceive their tutors, parents, and friends. And once they get exposed, then their perception of the student shifts negatively.
The dishonesty makes them untrustworthy in other areas in general as the people around the cheater find themselves wondering if the cheater is limited to academic cheating or they also engage in cheating in all other areas of their life.
The psychological impact of academic cheating on society as a whole is that it encourages moral decadence. If everyone who cheats gets away with it, the whole system understands that cheating is not a moral violation.
Good behavior strengthens character while bad behaviors weaken it. Therefore the moral decadence of a community can be sourced from small behaviors such as cheating in a test, traced from a young stage.
Consequences of Cheating in School
There are several repercussions that the student is at risk of when they are found guilty of cheating. These include:
When it becomes clear to the tutor that a student is guilty of cheating on a test, they have to penalize them. In most cases, the student is usually penalized by being given the least acceptable score on the test.
In reality, it would have been better for the student to get the score that would come out of their efforts than for them to cheat and get the lowest score. However, as a consequence, they have to accept the lowest grade.
When one chooses to cheat, it shows that they are either unprepared for the test or have truly not gathered anything from the course works. So why would they proceed to the next level when they have not acquired the things from that level?
For some institutions, the cheater is usually forced to re-take the course work and/ or test; and prove that they have genuinely acquired knowledge from it.
For repeated cases of cheating or particularly in stricter institutions, school boards may decide to suspend the student from the school for a certain period. This pushes the student’s level behind their fellow students.
The most extreme consequence of cheating is being expelled from a school or college. The purpose of that is to act as an example for other students to keep from cheating.
The most severe case of cheating is when there is a money exchange for a person to either sit in for another student during an exam or for an outside source to alter the actual results of a student and/ or get them illegal admission into an institution.
In such fraudulent cases, the institution and/or government bodies may require monetary compensation.
An excellent example of that has been witnessed in scandals involving high-ranking members of society who have bought school admissions for their children. Not only have such parents been penalized monetarily, but they have suffered public embarrassment, and some have even been arrested for depriving qualified students of getting admitted for their well-deserved effort; and, more importantly, for breaking the law.
What to Do as Students to Avoid the Consequences of Cheating
With all that said, how can a student avoid the pressure to cheat and the consequences that result from cheating?
Take the initiative and create a timetable whereby you can set time for schoolwork yet still enjoy leisure. A structured way of doing things has proven to be more beneficial than doing things haphazardly.
With a timetable, you can focus on the work you are set to do within an allocated time frame and even find yourself eager to complete it. Leisure time feels more rewarding when you have used your schoolwork time well.
Moreover, if you allocate your time well, you will not feel overwhelmed when a paper is due.
Even after you have created a timetable, it is still easy for students to find themselves slacking. This stems from a lack of discipline in their work. Those who procrastinate do so with or without a proper timetable.
If you cannot adhere to your own rules, you will be unable to comply with the rules of others. Therefore, students who disregard their set timetables are also likely to disregard the rules set by the school.
Be disciplined in working towards your studies, and you won’t have to cheat.
Students usually shy away from speaking to their professors or tutors because they fear rejection.
Provided you have a legitimate reason you have not completed your assignment; you can request an extension for you to proceed with the work. The truth of the matter is that you are not really requesting special services but rather requesting equal time as the other students.
Those who could submit the work on time did not have interference that stopped them from working. However, because you suffered a setback because of an emergency, tragic life event, or other legitimate reasons, then you are an excellent candidate to request an extension rather than cheating.
Most students who cheat in their college studies probably have experience cheating in their prior school life. This means that if we can emphasize changing the attitudes of younger students towards cheating as early as when they join the education system, then the chances are that they will avoid cheating or, better yet, associate it with bad morals as they get older.
For college students, simply understanding and respecting the fact that cheating robs the honest students of great opportunities can help them avoid cheating. After all, a true winner only emerges from a fair fight.
Some students cheat because they find the workload too heavy, the tests unfair, or too hard. If that is the case, the only way the lecturer will be aware of it is to make that known to them. After all, you are the one who is taking the test.
If the test is tough, then you can get other students who share your sentiments. Provide proof that you actually know other subject matter from your course work and that you aren’t just mobilizing support from a fellow student to promote your laziness.
If the problem is that you do not have time to commit to all the assignments, you can show that to your tutors. They are trained to give a balanced workload, but sometimes the works become overwhelming when they surpass that limit. It’s nothing that communication between the students and lecturers can’t solve.
You don’t have to cheat. Sensible tutors will find a way to work with this new information.
All right, now let’s address the elephant in the room
We’ve shown why cheating is wrong, but there is a very gray area that needs to be highlighted. For example, is using a dissertation writing cheating?
Let’s talk about it.
Contrary to some people’s belief, the use of dissertation writing services does not qualify as cheating. This is why:
As far as the education system goes, dissertation writing services are created to act as a teaching aid for students.
Such systems have existed since time immemorial. The most common example of teaching aid is textbooks. Textbooks have always been used both within and outside of class to help students understand what their teachers have taught them within the class.
The correct way to use dissertation writing services is for the student to purchase the model paper related to their work and then use it as a model to craft their dissertation paper. By referencing the model papers, they can understand some factors better than they did before.
If they paraphrase the work, then they are writing it in their language, it means that they have understood what they are talking about; which in turn means that the teaching aid has accomplished its purpose
Like a textbook, a student can peruse its pages and find a page that deals with the topic they are interested in. If what they are looking for is not available in the first textbook they search in, they look for that information in the next book.
Dissertation writing services narrow down the search process such that the student is automatically provided with the paper they are looking for without needing to go through the process of book-searching. So, in essence, they work to make the work of the student easier.
Like we’ve said above, these services aim at easing the work of the student but not spoon-feeding them.
To further show that these services are primarily teaching aids, they include guidelines for the research process. As such, they help student design their own dissertation by outlining the best steps to follow.
Again, within the right framework, dissertation writing services are meant to benefit the student by providing a guiding example for them to follow.
However, the problem arises when the student chooses to hand in the model paper as their own then. By doing so, they deceive their tutors and rob themselves of the opportunity to truly apply what they have learned or test their level of understanding of a particular subject matter.
The service provider should not be punished for the errors of their customers. If a student chooses to present the work from the service provider as their own, then it is entirely a breach of honor codes and university standards or policies on their end.
To conclude, just like any other published guidebook such as textbooks, dissertation writing services aim to enhance the understanding of the student. If one would qualify these services as unhealthy or even term it as cheating, so should other teaching aids such as textbooks.
Never! Cheating is inexcusable. Don’t do it. And don’t condone it as well.
A society that tolerates cheating will only breed more cheaters. And however complex or stressful the circumstances are, students must be willing to resist the temptation to cheat. They are much better at getting results from their own efforts!