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Honors Codes as a Solution of Academic Cheating Problem

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Revising the Honor Code

Today, cheating is an increasingly problematic epidemic that plagues educational institutions around the nation. This could include students performing acts of plagiarism or collaborating on individual assignments. Administrators have been quick to acknowledge the problem, but have unsuccessfully diminished it. The latest, and to the staff most promising, system to reduce cheating is the honor code. This set of regulations teaches students to report others of potential cheating in order to keep their academic integrity. However, many students don’t support this code, therefore creating a huge flaw. Schools shouldn’t have such unregulated guidelines and should remove the honor code to replace it with a more reliable system to prevent cheating.

The biggest flaw in the honor code is it’s lack of student support. In most schools that use these regulations the students don’t see them as reliable and thus don’t encourage or enforce them. Students see these as just another set of rules they must follow and don’t fully understand the intent behind them. One way the honor code was enforced was by writing pledges of honor, which received much student criticism due to dishonest students writing pledges even if they were invalid. While Harvard administrators hope that an honor code can improve the academic integrity of the college, critics-especially Harvard students-are skeptical that signing a piece of paper will suddenly cause a cheater to change his ways (Source C). This evidence shows that students don’t have faith in the current system and that it should be replaced with a more concrete solution to the problem of cheating.

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Another flaw in the honor code is, that the honor code has unintentionally created a culture that resents reporting their peers. Students have created an environment in schools that look down upon others who report cheaters, causing the honor almost irrelevant due to the miniscule amount of people who actually follow it. In Source E, students at a code to be obscure. With this attitude towards keeping your peers in check, this system becomes small, astonishing 8 percent of the students would report a fellow student for cheating. Due to such low amounts of students enforcing the rules of the honor code, it is almost rendered useless as the entire public university created a survey to see how the students see the honor code. In this survey, only an premise of it relies on student backing.

Supporters say that the honor code helps promote integrity and the elimination of academic honesty in the community, thus building more self-reliable, honest students. However they couldn’t be more wrong. Students have made a culture within schools that looks down upon those who report their peers. They would rather brush off a questionable act in order to keep their reputation intact than do what is right and report them. However, honor codes don’t always work. Mr. McCabe says that their success depends on a “culture of academic integrity” that leads students to take enforcement of the rules seriously (Source C). This evidence shows that honor codes only survive on student faith and accountability. Without the students to enforce it, then it is useless.

In conclusion, honors codes are an unreliable solution to the ever growing problem of academic cheating. It not only lacks the desperately needed student support, but has also created an environment where the students look down upon its use. While many argue that it creates a better community with more reliable students, it instead creates a culture where they don’t report known cheaters. With such flaws, we cannot expect to see a decline of academic cheating in the future and should instead place in new methods to prevent dishonesty.


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