One cannot overstate the importance of education because not only it helps us build a better future for us but also teaches us how to be a more productive member of the society. We do not attend an academic institution just to learn facts and theories in a wide range of subject matters but also to learn principles, values, and rules that are essential for success in both personal and professional life. One such rule is to engage in ethically responsible manner and safeguard one’s personal integrity which includes not engaging in cheating. But unfortunately, the instances of cheating are quite common in academic settings. Like any problem, it is important to understand the primary causes behind cheating to more effectively address this ethical issue.
One of the major reasons students cheat is due to the competitive pressure they face . Students know success is a desirable trait and failure enjoys quite negative perceptions in the society. While successful people are celebrated whether in academics or sports or even in professional career, failures are perceived as something to be avoided at all costs because they indicate the individual is less capable than the rest. Thus, it is only natural for students to be tempted to cheat to increase the prospect of success and avoid being seen as a failure.
Students are also tempted to cheat because of peer pressure . This shows one cannot ignore the influence of the group. If others cheat to get ahead, it puts one at disadvantage, producing a strong temptation to cheat in order to eliminate others’ unfair advantage. Thus, schools can reduce the temptation to cheat by putting effecting monitoring controls in place so that honest students don’t feel at disadvantage.
Another way schools can discourage cheating is by putting greater emphasis on learning than grades. When schools judge students’ progress by grades as opposed to learning, it creates an incentive to cheat. Similarly, students may also be more likely to cheat if they have poor relationship with the teacher . Thus, a teacher that enjoys the respect of his/her students may influence the students to work harder and to be less likely to cheat so as not to risk disappointing the teacher.
Students also cheat because they may not really perceive it to be unethical or a big deal. Some of the arguments they make in their defense is that everyone does it, the teacher doesn’t teach properly, and/or it was just a little help and nothing else . Thus, it is important to teach the importance of personal integrity to students and make them realize cheating carries serious consequences some of whom could be life-changing. Similarly, cheating may also occur because certain actions may not be perceived by the students to be acts of cheating. One example is plagiarism which explains why instructors often try to educate their students on plagiarism.
Students also cheat because they may perceive the benefits of cheating to be greater than the risks . The competitive pressure on students continues to increase and it is, especially, true in college where their grades may influence their job prospects. This is also the reason why unethical conducts like cheating occur in the real world including in competitive sports. The solution is to increase the costs of cheating so as to make it less attractive course of action.
Cheating is one of the major challenges faced by educators. It is apparent there are many factors that influence the probability of cheating and not just one factor. Such factors include competitive pressure faced by the students, negative perceptions associated with failure, peer influence, the quality of relationship between the teacher and the students, students’ own perceptions and understanding of the acts of cheating, and the risk-benefit analysis.