Students Find Various Reasons to Cheat


Cheating could be seen as a means to an end, or possibly an insult to the teacher. At BLHS, school policy towards cheating may be set in the school handbook. But do the potential consequences prevent the crime? After talking to the general student body, one may find the answer.

On the subject of cheating, senior Mitchell Mikinski said, “Cheating is natural; it’s only natural for people to want to do the best they can grade-wise. If cheating is the only way they can, then they will do it.”

The constant debate between morality and practicality rages between two schools of thought: the “Cynically Competitive Student” and the “Scholar with Moral Obligations.” From this one could see the ideas of each. With page 31 of the student handbook saying:

“Student will take a zero on the assignment. Each case will be reviewed and appropriate action will be taken by the teacher and/or administrator.”

But is that harsh enough? A common concern of teachers in a one to one classroom is students figuring out new ways to be academically dishonest every day. For teacher Michelle Vielhauer this has become a struggle in classes like English IV.

“It’s more on the daily stuff… I used to make vocabulary assignments handwritten, so they were writing the definitions down and they weren’t copy pasting, but we had mass cheating on that…a mass sharing of their Google Docs.”

Viehaluer went on to explain how she finds Google Docs has given students an opportunity to cheat. She believes it not to be a matter of morality, but time management.

“I think the reasons for cheating are as varied as the number of students that are doing it…I don’t think they’re bad people, they’re just making bad decisions.”

Students at BLHS are given a multitude of opportunities. From a Blue Ribbon education to free laptops, one could be confused at why a student would think to cheat before consulting a teacher with any concerns or questions. Could students’ stubborn independence stem from embarrassment?

“It’s because they’re not confident…””

— College Government Teacher, Steve Hopkins

Steve Hopkins teaches College Government. On students’ reasons for cheating, he stated:

“It’s because they’re not confident, and they are afraid they’re going to do poorly, so when they do cheat, they’re setting themselves up for long-term failure. That’s what really concerns me.”

Going on, he explained how his cheating policy tends to be more severe than any average class. Due to his class being associated with Donnelly College, Hopkins follows their policy on cheating. He will ask the student to redo the assignment, but Donnelly will not give credit for the assignment after it is turned in.

“We’ve tried to cut back on some of that [cheating]. But there are students who can just take pictures with their phones of answer sheets…and they cheat on a lot of quizzes that are only worth 20 points, but what does that get them?”

Hopkins went on to explain his theory on a “test anxiety pattern” that a student builds over their high school career. Every time a student gets away with cheating, it becomes more likely for it to become a lifestyle.

“…they still get a terrible grade.””

— College Biology Teacher, Daniel Smalley

With students making lifestyles out of cheating, could organized cheating be a problem? One who has sat through any cramming session in advisory would find the answer to be obvious. With a single picture and a group text message, a majority of the class could achieve high marks with little to no effort.

Is there any skill in the digital cheating world? Could a certain finesse be needed to organize and coordinate such a machine? Daniel Smalley, college biology teacher, doesn’t think so.

“This concept is about the efficacy of cheating. In my experience, it is really weird to find out a student has been cheating, because lots of times they still get a terrible grade.”

After the rollout of the new laptops, many teachers have run into a learning curve surrounding laptops in a testing environment. Without any measures to prevent cheating with computers, a student could easily look up answers and leave the teachers none the wiser.

Is there any guilt a cheating student would feel after being dishonest on a given assignment? To be dishonest on graded work sends a strong message to BLHS staff.

Smalley  said, “… I think people are opportunists. It may reflect a student’s perception of a teacher’s awareness, but not respect for them. ”

The opportunity that many students are finding now seems to be their unlimited access to technology. In a few quick keystrokes, any assignment could be answered with ease. By just pulling up another tab, an online test could be taken by a Google search engine. Without regulation, a desperate student could succumb to an easier way out.

To the students, the staff of BLHS would like to urge a conversation. If one is struggling on an assignment or with the lesson plan, a teacher would prefer criticism over dishonesty. Hopefully, a more academically honest school can emerge in the semester to come, and teachers can take a stronger stance against cheating.