How Schools Are Teaching Students to Cheat

Special to the Lions’ Pride

By: Maria Larcomb, ENG 440 Student of Professor Marissa McLargin

When parents send their children to school at any age, they expect them to be taught many different things: how to factor equations, how to write, and how to work a microscope. Pushing their kids to succeed, parents want them to learn a lot and to learn it well.

However, parents and society at large are extremely unaware of the most common lesson that students are currently being taught at school every single day: how to cheat.

The current school system that stresses to students that their greatest goal should be getting straight A’s and that everything else is second priority is in need of dire change. According to the Journal of Psychology of Education, by placing immense value on good grades, “…schools remove the importance of learning,” and place it on receiving high marks instead. Thus, with heavy pressure placed on students’ shoulders to succeed at all costs, methods of cheating are often adopted to ensure success.

Unfortunately, this trend of cheating is prevalent at all levels of academia. Both elementary school and university students alike are succumbing to the temptation of cheating. According to the Journal of Business Ethics, approximately 75 percent of college students admit to cheating at least once during their years spent earning a degree.

Some of these students cite their reason for cheating as a means of surviving; they are terrified of failing. However, other students state that they feel compelled to cheat in order to retain their streak of impressive marks received in the past. A Saint Leo student-run survey revealed that an average of three in five students have, in fact, cheated before.

According to the Psychology of Academic Cheating, students cheat their way through school because this “shortcut” method offers them many advantages. It provides an opportunity to maintain a student’s image among their peers or family members, a chance to succeed academically, and a way to bypass the punishment of repeating a grade.

Although the promotion of independent learning is commonly cited as the primary focus of schooling, it has regrettably become second fiddle. As directed by the school system, teachers are frequently forced to “teach to the test” and provide long vocabulary lists instead of promoting autonomous and invested learning.

The National Education Association attests that this teaching strategy is both disadvantageous and harmful to students. As a result, students are tasked with memorizing countless terms and words before a test, only to forget them weeks or even days later. Therefore, those who struggle with remembering numerous terms for a test will not receive grades that are indicative of their true potential. Instead of reflecting their learning abilities, it will only demonstrate their memorization skills.

Thus, these students will look elsewhere for means beyond those of memorization in order to pass exams. In the fall of 2016, Columbus State Community College released a newsletter stating that although cheating has been around forever, it is now expanding past its old limits. With the increase of advanced technology, the trend of cheating has become easier and more prevalent than ever. Access to tools that promote and encourage cheating are readily available to students with simply one quick click of a mouse. Likewise, plagiarism can be executed with only a few keystrokes.

It is evident that the current structure of the school system and the stress that it places on students to receive good grades has dire effects. Through the unintentional promotion of cheating, students are being pressured to adopt dishonest behavior and learning is losing its purpose. In order to combat this, it is essential that we are aware of this detrimental lesson that is being taught to students and advocate for the school system to place its priority on learning once again.

By reworking the school system to focus its attention on promoting the importance of learning, rather than placing such heavy significance solely on earning good grades, cheating culture could be considerably curbed to students.


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