I must be getting old.

When I was in college, and then again in graduate school, there was a simple expectation. I was there to learn, the university was there to help me learn. They do that through centuries’ old methods — teaching in classrooms, testing on that material, and occasionally having some hands-on experiences in the laboratory or on computers.

This isn’t rocket science (unless you’re studying rocket science).

So why was I so surprised when I watched the video (linked to below) where a professor teaching a management class discovered a statistical anomaly while grading his classes’ midterm exams. His startling findings? Rampant cheating.

13 Comments to
One Third of a College Class Caught Cheating

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  1. One problem is that most students aren’t in college/university to learn anymore, they’re there because they need to have this degree in order to do what they want to do with their lives. They simply can’t get where they want to go without the degree.

    The other problem is that many classes are not actually designed for people who want to learn, especially undergrad courses which might have several hundred students. All you have to do is regurgitate, no real brainpower required.

    When results are the main goal and the university doesn’t care if you learn… cheating is just inevitable. Students don’t respect universities and universities don’t respect students. This isn’t something that can be fixed by punishing cheating, it’s a system-wide problem.

  2. I was one of those boring people who earned my A’s in college. The frat boys at the university I attended had files of old tests. That way they could spend their time staying drunk instead of studying. Sad thing is many of them probably ended up in the business world continuing to lie and cheat to get ahead.

    • I totally agree with anon. “Sad thing is many of them probably ended up in the business world continuing to lie and cheat to get ahead.” I attended one of the top 10 universities in the U.S. The school offered an business alumni networking event. Some of them were incredible, but two of them(in their mid twenties) blatantly accepted the fact that they actually didn’t study but used old exams while partying and were telling students it’s okay not to study…..

      Another sad part is that despite my university ranking is way up there, I noticed a lot of students cheat in exams and the deans don’t really care. And also many students cheat to get into universities. Parents write essays for them, parents or tutors write papers throughout their high school life, and paying others to take SATs. There is always never sufficient evidence for a student to be suspended even if there are a group of witnesses .

  3. Simple answer to your question: In public schools we teach students to value grades more than knowledge. School to them, is getting a grade not learning anything. Learning is too much work and if you can get away with moving through the System with very little work, who wouldn’t do that? People who love to learn. But instead of producing people who love to learn, we churn out people who’ve had their love of learning and the thrill of discovery drained out of them by third grade.

    Don’t you just love the American school disast…. uhm…. system?

    Phooey!

  4. I am a student at a university in Texas and while I am disgusted by the behavior of these students I am not surprised. I recently got into a heated discussion with a friend of mine about cheating and while the subject was never really resolved, my friend did bring up a good point. He has been a student at this university for over a decade (ongoing health problems) and has come to the conclusion that the way grades are decided actually facilitates cheating. Our discussion was concerning math tests but I feel it applies to other areas of academia as well. There are times when the payout for cheating is far too great and theoretically it outweighs the risk of being caught and the punishment that you would receive. If you are taking a test, and you know that you need at least a 90 on the test to make an “A” in the class and as you are taking the test you realize that if you could just get this one particular question right, your grade in the class would go from a 3 out of 4 to a 4 out of 4, it’s very hard not to run to the bathroom and look up the answer in a calculator, or a smart phone or whatever. Some professors even have people compete for grades. They say that every semester they give out a certain umber of A’s, B’s, and so on. At a time where graduate school admissions are so competitive, it’s hard not to feel the pressure to give yourself that extra boost.
    And Mr. Grohol, I am honestly shocked that you are so stunned by this behavior. As someone who has an interest in psychology and technology, you have to know how technology has shaped education and increased technology based cheating. It’s a shame, but plagiarism, cheating, hacking, and forging doctors’ notes is rampant on college campuses (at least I feel like it is; I would love to see a study on this). I feel like the most unfortunate part of this whole situation is that cheating is not considered that big of a deal. “Everybody does it” so to speak. It kind of worries me that professors would use questions from a test bank at all and I think sometimes it shows that there is a generation gap between what the older generation (professor and teachers) can do with technology and what they THINK the younger generation (students) can do with technology. A few weeks ago, I heard about a student who was working at a copy shop that was making copies of an exam. She tweeted (jokingly) that she had the exam and in less than 10 minutes, she had people offering her money for copies. Education and good parenting has not caught up with the technology industry. Things that weren’t an issue when parents were students suddenly are. Trust, privacy, and honesty seem like issues that are pretty straight forward, but times are changing.

    • Me and my friends were called “evil” for reporting someone who got caught cheating. But moreover, others thought that we were “idiots” for NOT cheating.

  5. I’ve heard a fair amount of “defense” of cheating (or again, at least a rationalization for it), talking about how absurd it is for the professor to use the publisher’s test bank of questions to create an exam in this day and age.

    Well, gee, that’s why the publisher created the test bank in the first place. (I’m talking about the private, exam ones, not the student “study aids” ones — they are two different things. The students in this instance used the publisher’s private, exam-only test bank — which is offlimits to students.) The fact that some students have illicitly obtained these test banks and then distribute them to the class is astounding.

    It’s a sad commentary on education when a professor (or their assistants) are expected to go online and Google for their own exams before handing them out.

    The difference between a student with morals and one without is that the student with morals knows such cheating strategies exist, but forgoes them.

    • “I must be getting old”

      That, and the fact that you grew up in an era where a student’s future prospects wasn’t so single-handedly determined by the reduction of one’s academic efforts to a single decimal figure, known as GPA.

  6. I know what they did was wrong but if they had used it for just a practice test and a study tool I don’t feel it would be considered cheating. I believe that mostly all college students have cheated including myself. I know that it is wrong but I cheated, I’ll admit that. I didn’t cheat on an entire test but I kept formulas for equations handy so that I wouldnt forget them to solve problems. I am not proud but it did help me. I wish all of those college students the best in life. I am proud of any one who attends college, it’s a big step and college is hard. I commend them for coming forward and hope that they have learned a lesson.

  7. I can’t say that it is as commonplace here. I study in the Netherlands and I haven’t seen cheating since the first year of university (and only then by people who washed out some time that year).
    I’m guessing that it is the difference in the importance of the scores. In the Netherlands GPA’s are not important, passing the test is the only thing that matters (5.5 on a scale of 1 to 10).
    That doesn’t mean it’s any easier though, grading is a lot stricter. Getting a 9 or a 10 is nearly impossible would be like getting an A++ in the USA.

    • Perhaps that’s why Netherlands and Finland have the best education in the world.

  8. Well, I don’t commend them for coming forward. They came forward because they got caught and were likely more afraid of the outcome if they didn’t. Really it’s scary because the cheaters don’t suddenly get a conscience once they graduate. They will continue to cut corners and do what they feel entitled to do without any regard for others.

  9. Part, but by no means all, of the problem is that mom and dad aren’t selling themselves into indentured servitude so junior can “get an education”. They’re investing in a degree that will allow him/her to make a living.

  10. thats why there are choices. If they get caught okay. Understandable but you seem like you enjoy being an A*SH*OLE!! No one is hurting no one. They make their own choices. & you aint God either, and ppl who talk like you. are often way worse under the cover!! they pay 4 it!! let ‘em be. You wana help? world is full of violence and abuse & kids dying HELP THEM!!!

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