Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Why they cheat 

An article reprinted in our campus newspaper proclaims that universities push academic integrity, but perhaps it's a losing battle. This is an excellent article in my view, and I want to clip about five paragraphs here. If you're not interested, scroll on down. A couple of comments below:
...about three-fourths of all college students cheat, either on tests or on written assignments, according to his 1999 survey of 2,100 students on 21 campuses. The greatest offenders, he has found, are business majors, fraternity and sorority members, male students, younger students and those with low grades.

But bright students cheat too, said Vincent Jacabazi, a senior and academic integrity panelist at [Saint Louis University]. "They want the grade," he said. "That's what they're primarily concerned about. ... They need to get into medical school, law school."

[Rutgers Prof. Donald] McCabe agrees that many students are in college "just to get their credentials." On top of that, with many employers insisting that graduates have practice in working with others, professors are assigning more group work these days. The more students grow accustomed to it, the more they may conveniently lose sight of where permissible collaboration ends and cahoots begin. "I think technically (students) know where to draw the line, but they think they shouldn't have to," McCabe said.

Experts say academic integrity requires the commitment of teachers as well as students.

Consider, for example, the case of a professor who sits reading a magazine during a test, ignoring students who whisper to one another and oblivious to one in particular who copies answers from another student. Who is more at fault here, the inattentive professor or the cheating student? This is one of several hypothetical cases posted on the Web site of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University.
I think one is expected to behave with integrity even when people aren't looking at you. When I was a graduate student, most of the students in my class were foreign-born, many from the Middle East. A professor's absence from the room there was taken as an invitation to cheat, but this was not accepted. One wonders whatever happened to honor codes that bound students to report on cheating they observe among others (upon penalty of the same punishment as the cheater)?