Cheating Today

Academic dishonesty is endemic in all levels of education. In the United States, one study has shown that 20% of students started cheating in the first grade Similarly, other studies reveal that currently in the U.S., 56% of middle school students and 70% of high school students have cheated. A large-scale study in Germany found that 75% of the university students admitted that they conducted at least one of seven types of academic misconduct (such as plagiarism or falsifying data) within the previous six months.

Students are not the only ones to cheat in an academic setting. A study among North Carolina school teachers found that some 35% of respondents said they had witnessed their colleagues cheating in one form or another. The rise of high-stakes testing and the consequences of the results on the teacher is cited as a reason why a teacher might want to inflate the results of their students.

The first scholarly studies in the 1960s of academic dishonesty in higher education found that nationally in the U.S., somewhere between 50%-70% of college students had cheated at least once. While nationally, these rates of cheating in the U.S. remain stable today, there are large disparities between different schools, depending on the size, selectivity, and anti-cheating policies of the school. Generally, the smaller and more selective the college, the less cheating occurs there. For instance, the number of students who have engaged in academic dishonesty at small elite liberal arts colleges can be as low as 15%-20%, while cheating at large public universities can be as high as 75%. Moreover, researchers have found that students who attend a school with an honor code are less likely to cheat than students at schools with other ways of enforcing academic integrity. As for graduate education, a recent study found that 56% of MBA students admitted cheating, along with 54% of graduate students in engineering, 48% in education, and 45% in law.

Cheating in high schools is growing in the United States at an exponential rate. There is also a great difference in students' perceptions and the realty of their own ethical behavior. In a 2008 survey of 30,000 students in high school carried out by the Josephson Institute for Youth Ethics, 62 percent of students polled said they "copied another's homework two or more times in the past year." Yet, on the same survey, 92 percent said they were "satisfied with their personal ethics and character." Hence, there is generally a discrepancy between actual behavior and self-image of high school students' character.

Moreover, there are online services that offer to prepare any kind of homework of high school and college level and take online tests for students. While administrators are often aware of such websites, they have been unsuccessful in curbing cheating in homework and non-proctored online tests, resorting to a recommendation by the Ohio Mathematics Association to derive at least 80% of the grade of online classes from proctored tests.

While research on academic dishonesty in other countries is less extensive, anecdotal evidence suggests cheating could be even more common in countries like Japan.

A typology of academic misconduct has been devised by Perry (2010). Perry's typology presents a two dimensional model of academic misconduct with one dimension measuring the degree to which rules are understood and the other dimension measuring how closely these rules are followed. According to the typology only those students who understand the rules but fail to adhere to the rules are classified as 'cheats'.

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