Why Cheating and Plagiarism are on the Rise
Donald McCabe, Center for Academic Integrity’s cofounder at Clemson University, reported that, “In national surveys of more than 80,000 college students conducted from 2002 until this spring, nearly half admitted they cheated via the Internet” (McCandless). This statistic raises an alarm about a recently dramatic rise in cheating and plagiarism in the United States. In an attempt to stop students from cheating and plagiarizing, schools nationwide carry out academic integrity policies to punish violating students by giving them zero for the cheated assignments, failing their courses, or in some extremly serious cases kicking them out of school. In addition, the advanced technologies nowadays, particularly the online anti-plagiarism tools, help teachers easily detect plagiarized essays. Unfortunately, while the Internet allows teachers to catch cheating or plagiarizing students quicker, it is indeed one of the main causes leading to a great increase in the number of students violating academic integrity. Cheating and plagiarism are on the rise in the United States due to the developments of advanced technology, the excessive pressure students received from their family and friends, and schools’ failure to enforce strict and pratical policies to deal with the issues.
One of the main factors leading to a dramatic increase in cheating and plagiarism is due to the rise in advancing technology in recent years. The Internet creates vast opportunities for students to easily cheat and plagiarize in different ways. Dr. Chemers, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, explains students’ different approaches to plagiarism, “They copy phrases, sentences and sometimes paragraphs word-for-word from Internet sources. Even when they attempt to paraphrase, students often neglect to cite the source, and sometimes purchase entire papers from online term-paper mills” (McCandless). This indicates the variety of “short-cuts” the Internet has created for students to plagiarize with ease. Dr. Chemers’ past experience with one of his students helps clarifying his claim. He shares that not only his student turned in a research paper written about a topic that was never discussed in class but also the student’s writing skill in the submitted essay was on a much higher level compared to his actual writing abilities shown in the in-class works. In his conversation with the student, the student then admitted that he purchased the essay from an online site. In addition to making plagiarism easier, the Internet also allows students to instantly search for answers or to quickly connect to someone who can give them the answers. In brief, the Internet has created new opportunities for students to cheat and plagiarize and therefore has led to a great increase in cheating and plagiarizing rate.
Another cause for the big rise in cheating and plagiarism is that students nowadays are put under excessive pressure to strike for accomplishments. These excessive pressures are often resulted from students’ families and friends who have high expectations of them doing well. Professor Lenny Pit, a Computer Science Department’s director at University of Illinois, says, “Anecdotally, we see a larger incidence of cheating among foreign students then domestic students, and I think part of that is that they are under extreme pressure to do well and succeed … That pressure contributes to the idea that they need to do as well as possible even if it means taking some shortcuts” (Marsan). This shows that when students are constantly expected to excel, they tend to seek for every possible methods to achieve success even if those methods violate academic integrity. In other words, students cheat and plagiarize to survive from the pressure and the expectations their families and friends put on them. For example, for a student whose maximum ability is a C grade, cheating and plagiarizing tend to be the easiest and fastest way for him to earn a higher grade to be proud in front of his family and friends. In short, students nowadays cheat and plagiarize more to reach their families and friends’ high expectations of them.
Lastly, cheating and plagiarism is on the rise also partly because of schools failing to reinforce strict policies regarding to the issues. Institutions and professors recently don’t enforce effective penalties enough to deal with students who violate academic integrity. David Callahan, Demos’ cofounder, claims that, “We have a cheating epidemic in America, and the people in charge of our schools are not doing anything about it. And nobody’s making them do anything about it ? including our state legislatures and policy makers, who appropriate tens of millions of dollars for our schools” (Glazer). This shows that nowadays not just many schools but also the state policy makers fail to set clear and practical code of conduct dealing with cheating and plagiarizing issues. More surprisingly, private schools which get huge revenues from its students’ tuitions and fees don’t often take cheating and plagiarizing issues so seriously because they will lose lots of revenues if they expel violating students. As a result, cheating and plagiarism are widely tolerated in many schools nowadays, particularly the private schools. To sum up, institutions’ failures to discipline their students lead to a great increase in cheating and plagiarizing violations.
In conclusion, an alarming increase in plagiarism and cheating in American schools has resulted from three main causes including various cheating and plagiarizing opportunities contributed by the Internet, the pressure students got from their family and friends’ high expectations, and institutions’ failures to strictly punish violating students. Until now, while there are no effectual solutions to absolutely terminate cheating and plagiarisms in the United States, schools and teachers should constantly seek for proper measures to reduce the number of violations as much as possible.
Glazer, Sarah. “Plagiarism and Cheating.” CQ Resarch, 4 January 2013. .
McCandless, Brittany. “Internet Creates Opportunities to Cheat.” Oct 16, 2007, (n.d): ProQuest: ProQuest Central (SRU). EBSCO. Web. 29 Apr. 2011
Marsan, Carolyn Duffy. “Why Computer Science Students Cheat.” Network World 27.8 (2010): 14-5. ProQuest.Web. 27 Feb. 2014.