During all the years that they have been students in BSGE, the current sophomores have faced many incidents of plagiarism on assignments such as essays, exams and tests. However, these examples of academic dishonesty are problems that extend to all grades in BSGE. At any moment during any one of the lunch periods you can see students of any grade cheating on their assignments. Questioning why students cheat is an extremely vague inquiry for a rather complex issue.
Teachers such as Monsieur Rajiv do have ideas as to why students resort to academic dishonesty. He claims, “There are two types of cheaters: Those who cannot understand the work and see it as an easy way out and those who just don’t care and are there to see what they could get away with”. Monsieur Rajiv also seems to believe that cheating is in fact a sign of underlying issues that extend to core values or lack thereof. It is a sign of dishonesty, deceitfulness or in some cases, insecurity. On the other hand, students seem to have differing beliefs that place responsibilities equally on teachers and the school’s academic structure. A simple change teachers can make that could possibly curb the trend of academic dishonesty is to provide a forum for students to be able to seek help for their work, therefore aiding them in understanding the material. As a result, if students feel that they understand the material then they would not feel the aforementioned insecurities that could lead to cheating on their assignments.
Yet this isn’t the end of changes that students think could be made. A student who has cheated in the past stated, “I did not want to exert energy into meaningless homework that would not aid me throughout life in any way”. Even teachers happen to agree with this idea. Some of the responsibility in keeping students motivated to complete their own work falls on the teacher in terms of assigning meaningful assignments. As Monsieur Rajiv put it, “Assigning meaningful work that clearly shows how it will benefit the student’s knowledge of the subject material is also very important”.
Another prominent view among students is that there has been an incredible amount of pressure put on students to achieve exemplary grades. The pressure placed on students could possibly mix up the priorities among students. Aamel Unia ’15 said, “I think the reason why students cheat is because they think that getting better grades is more important than academic integrity and honesty.” BSGE is a school that requires more than the standard in academics, which means that making a shift from grades being the most important to making reaching an understanding of the material most significant would require a lot of effort. Yet simple acts such as letting the student know that working on understanding the material on their own can be both much more rewarding and much more beneficial than getting a high grade on material that is not understood.
Even though cheating at first may seem like a short-term response to a necessity to complete and exceed expectations on an assignment, the dishonesty involved with it affects everyone. Besides direct repercussions such as not receiving credit for the assignment as well as being subject to disciplinary measures, there is a deep underlying effect on the student’s reputation. Not only will their act of dishonesty be placed on their transcripts, which will be viewed by universities, it also leaves a dark mark on how they are viewed by the teachers. This negative perception can unfortunately even dip to those who did not cheat. It can extend to their classmates or in situations like the sophomores’, extend to the entire grade. Due to the many incidents of academic dishonesty that occurred last year the then freshmen and current sophomores are now forced to deal with a reputation of being a grade that is academically dishonest, or at least more so than others. When asked about the grade’s reputation, Ian Ryding ’15 said “Our grade’s reputation makes my life harder in the sense that it can break down the relationship between teacher and student and turn great teachers sour. It also makes teachers more wary and less likely to trust our grade which makes my experiences more aggravating.” Assuming that all the sophomores are academically dishonest is clearly an unfair assumption, as is assuming that the sophomores are the only grade that cheats. Although cheating can be viewed as a black and white example of dishonesty, it is in fact a complex response to a lack of values, which can be avoided at many steps along the way. Academic dishonesty can also create a ripple effect that touches everyone, creating a mark on the relationship between students and teachers, as shown with BSGE’s current sophomores.