Online learning has led to an eruption of student cheating and academic misconduct and Midtown is no exception. The norm of cheating from virtual education has continued into in-person learning, leading to teacher and administrator concern. But after an extended period where cheating became normal for many students, why are educators so stunned at this uptick?
When universities across the country shifted to virtual learning, there was an increase of academic misconduct. At the University of Georgia, reported instances of cheating more than doubled, from 228 in 2019 to more than 600 in 2020. The Ohio State University reported cheating was 50 percent higher than the year before. In the 2019-2020 school year, the University of Pennsylvania had a 71-percent increase in cheating cases.
It’s no surprise that when faced with the mental and physical pressure of a pandemic, students turned to cheating. Challenges of mental health and social isolation led students to become unmotivated and detached from school work. Websites that sell answers for tests and homework, such as Course Hero and Chegg, have exploded since the pandemic and have gained millions of users.
With the accessibility of answers on the internet, cheating became far easier than completing school work for students exhausted with the weight of living through a pandemic. In online school, cheating became normal, and now, using online answers has become a norm for some students, and they seem to be stuck in the cheating mindset.
Cheating is wrong, but looking at the causes of academic misconduct will allow teachers and administrators to effectively combat this challenge instead of letting it fester.
According to a 2013 study conducted by Stanford University, approximately 70 percent of students were often or always stressed about schoolwork, and a 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 83 percent of teenagers state that their primary source of stress is school. With the pressure and stress students face today, especially in a pandemic, it’s no wonder students are cheating in order to meet these expectations.
Now with school back in person, the new norm of cheating has been brought to classrooms. Students are finding creative ways to cheat on worksheets, quizzes and tests. And while cheating on school-issued Chromebooks is nearly impossible, students are connecting to personal hotspots to cheat during tests and quizzes. Some students bring their own personal computers, which cannot be monitored, making cheating easier.
Another reason students are cheating is because they’ve experienced learning loss and are unaware how to confront it. In Baltimore, 68 percent of ninth graders failed a class during the 2020-2021 school year. In Los Angeles, 43 percent of the class of 2022 is at risk of not graduating. The America’s Promise Alliance found that around 80 percent of high school juniors and seniors say the pandemic has affected their post-graduation plans. It is evident that the pandemic had a serious effect on students’ learning, so it makes sense that some are desperate enough to cheat.
The increase of technology has also made it easier for students to cheat. Little to no school work is done on paper, creating a simple way for students to look up answers, or communicate with peers. Technology has made cheating more accessible and more tempting than ever for students.
This routine of cheating has put students in the mindset that cheating is acceptable and okay. It is fairly uncommon to see students get caught and legitimately punished for cheating at school. This mindset is extremely harmful, especially for students entering college. Students caught cheating in college could get academic suspension or even expulsion. Now, before they enter higher education, students need to be taught how serious the consequences are for cheating in college. With how frequent cheating is among students today, they won’t learn from getting away with it without punishment.