Barton Community College and higher learning institutions across the nation continue to battle what Vice President of Instruction Elaine Simmons calls “professional cheaters.”
The five students expelled from Barton campuses this semester for academic integrity issues were doing a lot worse than hiding crib sheets in their clothing before taking tests, apparently. But college officials are onto them.
Two years ago, the college started using biometric identification software to make sure online students are actually doing their own coursework and not paying someone else to sit in on classes and tests.
As for the more traditional types of cheating, they have been going on in high schools and colleges for years. The International Center for Academic Integrity reports that over 12 years, between the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2015, 71,300 university undergraduates were asked about cheating and about 68 percent of them admitted to doing so at least once. Most (62 percent) admitted cheating on written assignments and many (39 percent) admitted cheating on tests.
According to BestCollegeReviews.org, students in high school and college cheat by downloading papers from the internet, plagiarizing entire portions of text from various sources, texting answers to each other during a test using a phone, saving notes on a on a phone for viewing during a test (written crib sheets are apparently so 1990s), using phones to browse the internet during a test, taking photos of tests and posting them online, hiring someone to take online courses for them or simply supplying fake test scores and recommendation letters for college applications.
The same source notes there is no single demographic for cheaters. They may be low- or high-GPA students, athletes, business students, fraternity and sorority members, etc., etc. They may feel the pressure of high expectations, or they may not care about the class at all and just want to get a grade.
It turns out that a lot of us think cheating is OK. We’ve seen it modeled by our celebrities and politicians. We can only hope that our doctors did not cheat on their exams. Learning is more important than grades! Students who cheat may make excuses but most of them know it is wrong. They may not know that their actions hurt others and ultimately hurt themselves.
Educators can and should help combat unethical behavior by using deterrents. That is why Barton Community College must continue to strive for academic integrity, and why we should all be role models of integrity.