Cheating at KHS- Emily Munoz

No one at Kerman High likes to talk about cheating. The teachers seem to be sick of beating the subject to death and students seem to roll their eyes at the mere mention of it. Cheating and plagiarism are talked about in most, if not all classrooms on campus. If cheating is something we all know is academically wrong, why is it still an issue in our school and schools around the world? A Rutgers University study found that out of 24,000 high school students, 95% of them had cheated in some form during their high school years. These numbers at face value seem very high, but I think it is important to take into account what we define as cheating. I think it is imperative to take into account the two main levels of cheating. Low-level cheating and high-level cheating. Low-level cheating would be like taking pictures of an assignment and passing it around. Sharing homework and other small assignments are low-level cheating because of the smaller significance of the assignments or the point grades received for them. High-level cheating would be plagiarising on heavy point assignments and essays that take multiple days to do and more extensive levels of thought. I am not saying one is better or worse than the other, I just think there should be distinctions for when someone copies a homework assignment versus someone copying a final essay for a class.
I wanted to understand from a teacher’s perspective what cheating meant to them and if cheating is a worse problem at Kerman High in the 2018-2019 school year. I had only ever had a student perspective on cheating and heard a few heated deliverances my teachers would give at the beginning of the year. I wanted the truth behind what they see or how they react when they catch someone cheating or plagiarizing. I sat down with three different teachers to try and get a better understanding of how they view the concept. For the sake of this article, I will refer to the teachers as Teacher 1, Teacher 2, and Teacher 3. When asked if cheating is more of an issue now than it has been in the past Teacher 1 saw that students had more of an inclination to cheat as the rigor of their course has increased. The desperation of a good grade pushed students to resort to cheating, but this problem has been a relative issue that has grown with the introduction of harder work and was not a product of the new times. Teacher 2 sited smartphones as a tool in making cheating easier when it came to passing around work. Teacher 3 discussed how brave students have become in their cheating endeavors. In some classes, students will sit there and copy a worksheet from their phone right in front of the teacher as if the teacher is oblivious or unaware. The attitude of an untouchable student has fostered this sense of cheating ability some students think they possess. I asked the teachers how heavily they took it when a student cheated in their class. Teacher 1 responded that they do not take it personally when a student cheats. They do, however, feel a certain level of disappointment because the student found themselves motivated enough to cheat. Instead of taking the drastic last measure of cheating, teacher 1 prefers a student to actively seek help and question what they do not understand. Teacher 2 finds cheating to be a personal insult to insult to their own teaching and their intelligence. When a student cheats they believe it is either because they do not believe the teacher will read it or they think that the teacher won’t be smart enough to catch them. Teacher 3 agreed with Teacher 2. They think that it is a student’s responsibility to help themselves first by paying attention and doing the work, to begin with. The last question I asked pertained to the strictness and severity of the cheating policies in place at KHS. All three teachers agreed that the consequences for teaching were in effect and appropriate. Teacher 1 said that the enforcement needed to be more school-wide. Some teachers abide by the regulations in place while other teachers seem to not enforce the rules as harshly. The inconsistencies between classes are something mentioned. If the cheating problem were to be extinguished schoolwide, consistency between classes and teachers is a necessity. Teacher 2 sited Turnitin as a very helpful tool for teachers to see exactly where and how a student plagiarized/cheated. Instead of wanting stricter punishment both, Teacher 2 and 3 spoke of preventing the cheating by informing students on what it was constituted as. Teacher 3 emphasized the fact that teachers have been reading work and doing their jobs for a while. They have seen everything in terms of cheating. They can tell when something sounds smarter than the work you’ve produced in the past. Thank you to these three teachers for sitting down with me.
From a teacher’s perspective, it seems that cheating is just another part of the job. Teachers know that it is always a possibility when they hand out an assignment or test. Students may be inclined to go the easy way out when it comes to assignments or tests. As a student, I can say that sometimes cheating does not seem like the end of the world. Of course, cheating is not an inherently good thing. It derives from laziness and sometimes a lack of care or morality. Sometimes an assignment seems like busy-work and not worth the effort. Sometimes a student will have to choose between investing fully in one assignment and have to copy another because of a time constraint. In no way am I justifying these actions. I am just pointing out what a student’s mind must be like when choosing to cheat. Or I might just be looking for an explanation when there isn’t one. I might be trying so hard to come up with a reason, when in fact students cheat unconsciously without weighing the consequences. Maybe at a high school level students cheat out of laziness rather than necessity. Whatever the case may be it seems that as long as there are school systems, cheating will remain.

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