Academic dishonesty is incurring in any action that as a result gives an unfair advantage to a student or more members of an educational community. One of the most commonly used types of academic dishonesty is cheating. Cheating is “gain an advantage over or deprive of something by using unfair or deceitful methods” (Oxford Dictionaries). This type of academic dishonesty is not acceptable in academic institutions, however this is becoming a constant theme amongst the 120 high school students that attend Centro Educativo Cocoyoc, located in Atlatlahucan, Mexico. According to a recent survey that I conducted of 38 students that attend this high school, 92% of the students admitted to have cheated during exams. Some concerning effects of cheating are that students are not learning or applying what has been taught to them. This is due to the excessive amount of homework and exams that they have to do and take. By cheating, students receive grades that are not achieved by their own efforts, making their grades not reliable for college applications or for the school’s average grade. Students misuse technology by using apps and other programs to facilitate cheating. In order for the cheating in Centro Educativo Cocoyoc to dissipate I propose that the amount of academic work and exams be decreased and there should be speakers for mandatory conferences on how to be organized for school and how to develop a good academic work. There should be new school policies implemented and new rules on the use of technology during exams.
Academic dishonesty is not only happening in Centro Educativo Cocoyoc, recent studies have shown that this is a worldwide issue. The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 43,000 high school students in public and private schools and found that: 59% of high school students admitted cheating on a test during the last year. 34% self-reported doing it more than two times (Josephson Institute of Ethics, 2010). But, the statistics from the survey I conducted were alarming, more than half of these students cheat during exams up to 2 to 3 times per week. 50% of the students claim that the main reason why they cheated was because of the lack of time to study for the excessive amount of exams and homework allocated to them throughout the week, and 29% said they wanted to have good grades to apply to distinguished colleges. As a former student, I also experienced the stress of having too many exams and homework. Centro Educativo Cocoyoc is well-known for the great amount of exams given to the students. The most exams I took in a month during my three years of high school were thirty-one, that means that the average of exams we had during a week was about six exams and the least number of exams I took in a month were twenty-five exams, which means we had five exams every week. The amount of exams in the institution made it really hard on me to be able to finish the required homework, I also caught myself memorizing the course material instead of analyzing it and applying the knowledge learnt.
Students rely on cheating as their easiest and fastest option. Some of the most common used techniques for cheating are whispering to each other the answers, having notes hidden underneath the desk, writing notes on the desk and on their hands. Teachers in Centro Educativo Cocoyoc check for any notes written on the desks, they also randomize the assigned seats during exams, as well as walk around the room to check if anyone is trying to copy. Even though teachers have tried to stop cheating, cheating is continuing to happen in the school. Over time, cheating is still happening but students are finding new ways to not get caught with the help of technology. Students use their cellphones to look up for answers or scroll down pictures of their notes. Two years ago students were required to bring iPads in order for the class to be more interactive and innovative, so the school could start having exams online to save paper. Even though, exams are tested individually students would solve them as if they were group exams. Students started using technology for their cheating techniques, they would use text apps like Messenger, WhatsApp or AirDrop on their iPads to send each other the answers.
If the school continues to operate the way it is now, the students will continue cheating. Changes have to be made in order for a significant amount of academic dishonesty to be decreased. The amount of work should decrease so the students do not cheat as much. School policies have to be implemented. For example, if a student is caught cheating suspension or expulsion should be considered other than having an F in the exam. The school should have specialized speakers to give conferences every month on how to be organized and how to prepare a good academic work. These conferences should be mandatory on the last Friday of every month in order to keep students on track. During this conferences students and faculty will review proper study habits like having a planer, using sources like Quizlet to facilitate exam reviewing, among other study habits. There should also be new rules applied during exams such as the students’ phones should be put inside a box on the teacher’s desk before the start of the exam. Some students admitted to have put their phones underneath their legs where the teacher would not be able to see them so they can look for notes and answers. Teachers should not do iPad quizzes, there should only be written exams as iPads can be connected via Bluetooth and students can send multiple pictures of notes, they can also take screenshots of their answers and send them to their classmates or use texting apps like WhatsApp and Facebook message to send answers and asks questions to their classmates.
While some may argue that the amount of exams and school work cannot be decreased as the students have to learn and who through all the course material, I think it is a reliable solution as most of the students of the school admitted that the main reason why they cheat is because of the excessive amount of exams and school work they have. If the students are giving less exams they will have more time to spend on studying and they will be less likely to go for the quickest way to get a good grade. The students are not learning anyway, as they are cheating in order to do good in exams. After taking an exam they forget the material reviewed in the exam and shift their mind from one subject to another without retaining the information. Another implementation of the solutions that some may also argue, is by not allowing the students to cheat they will get lower grades, I think this is a necessary solution because even though it is true that the student’s grade might go lower if we look at the long-term effect, they will be able to use their knowledge and what has been taught to them to achieve good exams grades.
In conclusion, most of the students that attend Centro Educativo Cocoyoc are cheating during exams due to the excessive amount of exams and homework they have. The effects of academic cheating are that students are not really learning or applying what has been taught to them, instead the students are using the quickest and easiest way to get good grades. The student’s and school’s grade average are not reliable due to the fact that almost everyone in the school are not obtaining their grades by their own efforts. The solutions for the school’s problem are creating new school policies so students are more thoughtful when considering cheating, the amount of work should be decreased so the students have more time to study and are not tempted to cheat, there should be conferences on how to be organized and create a good academic work. There should also be new rules during exams such as putting their phones inside a box before the exam so students do not pass each other the answers with the use of their phones to cheat. It’s not fair to the students who earn their grades honestly for other students to cheat their way into having good grades. It is important to take action and do something about the school’s concerning issue because according to the survey, 92% of the students interviewed admitted to have cheated and that is an alarming statistic.
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