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Academic dishonesty is becoming more frequent in colleges

Viewpoints Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 00:12

Houstonian Online

Houstonian Online

The campus is red-eyed and panicked as students hurry between their classes and home to prepare for our biannual apocalypse – finals.

In these cold, dark times, students often resort to unsavory measures to pad their delicate GPAs. While it may seem like a good idea in the short run, plagiarism and cheating has devastating long-term consequences not just for you, but also the education system.

Let’s be honest with each other. At some point in your high school or college career, you ended up getting on one of the millions of Wikipedia pages available to the public to answer a homework question. That is fine and even encouraged.

However, if you took an excerpt from that same Wikipedia page and included it in a paper without paraphrasing and/or attributing it, you are guilty of plagiarism. A survey conducted by Donald McCabe from Rutgers Universitybetween 2002 and 2005 showed 36 percent of college undergraduates admitted to copying or paraphrasing text from an Internet source without appropriate citations. Twenty-four percent of graduate students admitted to committing this same crime.

Even when getting away with the plagiarism, it can still harm you. Copy and pasting an assignment deprives yourself of the source content that the class is designed around, essentially cheating yourself out of the knowledge you are paying to receive.

Being able to incorporate other’s ideas is an important skill for pretty much any job. Mastering this skill is vital because people in the real world don’t give you an F for plagiarism, they sue you or fire you.

Another hazard plagiarism causes is the divided attention of the professors who, as a result, focus less on teaching, research and other academic endeavors that make them better professors. This does nothing but devalue your college education, as well as the education of your classmates.

Plagiarism isn’t the only form of academic dishonesty. Cheating on tests is one of the more common instances of academic dishonesty. We’ve all had that one classmate who likes to brag about how he or she managed to sneak a cheat sheet into the class for a test. The truth is, cheating is something we should never be proud of. Most students-both in high school and in college-recognize that it is morally wrong. Nevertheless, that does not stop them from committing the act. Data from a survey conducted by the Open Education Databasereveals that 60.8 percent of 300,000 polled college students admitted to cheating.

What cheaters don’t realize is like plagiarism, cheating hurts you and your academic environment. The point of an assessment is to figure out how much of the essential knowledge from a course you have retained.  If you cheat, you don’t know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which means you can’t accurately assess yourself and study the areas you actually need work in.

The other consequence of cheating is it artificially pushes up the curve in class. Essentially, inflated grades by cheating makes teachers think their class is more proficient in the material than they actually are. This means teachers will push ahead with more advanced material rather than helping students learn the material they don’t know. On a large scale, this hurts our nation as classrooms of cheaters flood the job market and prove themselves incompetent. When building a bridge, you can’t write how many tons it will hold on your wrist. You can’t know unless you do the work to figure it out. If you don’t know, the consequences can be deadly.

Grades, rather than education, have become the major focus of many students, professors Drew Nelson and David L. Jaffe said.

This perfectly expresses the problem from both a teaching and learning perspective. Students need to remember that the reason we go to college is to develop work ethics, and become responsible and well-informed citizens. Don’t let the quest for good grades get in the way of your education.

In 20 years, your work ethic and problem-solving skills will be worth more than an A. With that being said, make it a point to practice academic honesty during your upcoming finals. Academic dishonesty is like a Little Caesar's eating competition – it may seem great until you are keeled over with a failing grade. 

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