Further Reading
  • Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do
    Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do
    by Stephen F. Davis, Patrick F. Drinan, Tricia Bertram Gallant
  • Psychology of Academic Cheating
    Psychology of Academic Cheating
    Academic Press
  • Academic Dishonesty: An Educator's Guide
    Academic Dishonesty: An Educator's Guide
    by Bernard E. Whitley Jr., Patricia Keith-Spiegel
  • My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture
    My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture
    by Susan D. Blum
  • Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Academic Life)
    Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Academic Life)
    by Charles Lipson
  • Plagiarism: A How-Not-to Guide for Students
    Plagiarism: A How-Not-to Guide for Students
    by Barry Gilmore
  • Quick Coach Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism
    Quick Coach Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism
    by Rosemarie Menager-Beeley, Lyn Paulos
  • Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct and Empowering Change
    Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct and Empowering Change

Academic Dishonesty


Narcissism and Student Cheating

Watch out for those narcissistic students. It turns out that their sins go beyond monopolizing class discussions or blathering on endlessly about themselves during office hours. They also cheat more. Or at least that is the finding of a recent study led by Amy Brunell, an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University at Newark.

This is intuitive when you think about it. But Amy Brunell seems to be the first person who made the link explicitly in a research study. As Brunell explains in ScienceDaily: 

"Narcissists really want to be admired by others, and you look good in college if you're getting good grades. . . . "They also tend to feel less guilt, so they don't mind cheating their way to the top. . . . Narcissists feel the need to maintain a positive self-image and they will sometimes set aside ethical concerns to get what they want."

Brunell's sample size was small, just 199 students. The methodology was straight forward. She asked students to answer question aimed at measuring their level of narcissism and then asked questions to gauge their attitudes toward cheating.

Narcissism involves a number of traits and, interestingly, the part of narcissism most associated with cheating was exhibitionism and desire for attention. Meanwhile another trait, the belief in one's specialness, was not a key factor according to Amy Brunell.

"You would think that the belief that you are a special person and that you can do what you want would be associated with cheating," Brunell said. "But instead, we're finding that it is the desire to show off that really seems to drive cheating."

One other interesting thing here is that Amy Brunell makes the link between narcissists cheating in school and later ethical problems.

These results correspond well with studies that have looked at narcissism in the workplace, Brunell said.

"It seems likely that the same people causing problems in the workplace and engaging in white collar crime are the ones who were cheating in the classroom," she said.

Beyond Amy Brunell, scholars involved in the study were Sara Staats and Julie Hupp, who colleagues of Brunell in psychology at Ohio State at Newark,and Jamie Barden of Howard University.


Students Object to Video Taping Exams to Reduce Cheating. But Why?

Today's young people are famously willing to be transparent, sharing the details of their lives online in ways that older people could not imagine. At the same time, proposals by authorities to use surveillance techniques to reduce student cheating or other wrongdoing often encounter stiff pushback from this same Generation Watch Me. Here's the latest example, as reported in the Foster's Daily Democrat:

Officials in the University of New Hampshire's College of Engineering and Physical Sciences say they will explore the possibility of videotaping exams to deter cheating, although no classes will be recorded for that purpose this semester.

CEPS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Bob Henry said the idea was recently raised by professors in the department as a "viable" option for increasing "academic honesty" within classrooms — an issue he said all universities address on an annual basis regardless of how much cheating is — or is not — occurring.

He said the practice is allowed through the UNH rule book, which permits the recording of video but not audio, although the idea has recently created a stir among students because of privacy concerns.

Those concerns, according to Henry, have prompted officials to decide to table the taping idea until the department can have more discussion about how it would be conducted and whether the university sees it as an effective tool.

"I think what the department is trying to do is bring everybody together ... to set up some guidelines for videotaping," he said, adding the department isn't necessarily looking to create a new policy. "I think it's a matter of just a departmentwide discussion so all faculty members in that department understand what is available."

Henry said the department held a brief meeting Tuesday morning to begin that discussion after an article in The New Hampshire, the school's student paper, brought the issue to light earlier in the day and cited a professor in the department who planned to use the cameras this year.

The article quoted multiple students in opposition of the idea, and the department and some of its professors have received calls and e-mails from other concerned parties, according to Henry.

Okay, I can see understand that student don't like the presumption that they are cheating. It certainly could feel paternalistic and authoritarian to be monitored by cameras. But "privacy concerns?" Please. We're talking about students sitting in a class room or lecture hall -- not their bedroom.

My own view is that given the scope of student cheating today, video cameras in lecture halls at exam time actually makes a lot of sense.


CSU Offers Good News in Battle Against Student Cheating

We hear so much about epidemic levels of cheating among college students, and about large-scale student cheating scandals -- most recently at the University of Central Florida -- that it can be easy to forget that there are plenty of schools that don't have a major problem with student cheating. More than that, there are schools that are moving proactively to promote greater academic integrity and getting results.

The latest good news in the battle against student cheating comes from the Colorado State University, which has very little cheating -- it was recently named a "campus of character" by the Templeton Foundation -- but is striving to have even less and is now in the process of creating a honor pledge system. Last year, the CSU student government approved moving forward with a pledge. When completing work, students would write: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination, assignment or academic work." Or something similar.

It's impressive that CSU is moving forward with this even though they don't seem to have a big problem there. As reported recently:

But having some sort of formalized pledge or code could help reduce levels even more, said Mike Palmquist, director of The Institute for Teaching and Learning, and associate CSU vice provost for learning and teaching.

"In comparison to other schools, we don't really have a problem at all," Palmquist said. "We're better than average. But our goal is to be as best as we possibly can."

According to an anony-mous survey of 750 students conducted in 2008-2009, CSU found that 10 percent of students admitted to copying from someone else during an exam at least once, that 8 percent had given someone else an answer at least once, and that 3 percent of students had taken a quiz for another student once.

Cooper Anderson, president of the Associated Students at CSU, said the idea was to keep cheating low. "It reinforces a culture of academic integrity on campus and promotes daily awareness among the student body," Anderson told a reporter.


Confessions from a "Term Paper Mill"

A self-described “Shadow Scholar” recently revealed that he will make roughly $66,000 this year writing college essays for American students on everything from “history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration.”

Here's what he had to say about his line of work in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

You've never heard of me, but there's a good chance that you've read some of my work. I'm a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own.



A Better Way to Prevent Cheating: Appeal to Fairness

What can faculty and administrators do to stem epidemic cheating? Their best hope is to cast cheating as an issue of justice. Students may be cynical about what it takes to succeed these days, but they do care about fairness. And cheating is nothing if not unfair. Cheaters get rewards they don't deserve, like scholarships, admission to college or grad school, internships, and jobs. Cheating is the antithesis of equal opportunity: the notion that we all should have a fair shot at success and that the people who get rewarded are the people who deserve those rewards because they worked the hardest.

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