Cheating on exams

I have really been amazed at the audacity of students when it comes to cheating on exams.  Yesterday, I had a programming exam where one student attempted to use an "expert" via a web site.  Two years ago, it was a group of students who started yelling out answers during an exam when I had to step out of the classroom for a minute. Its invariably the worst students that cheat - or at least get caught cheating.  Usually, though, the good students do not need to nor  want to.  They believe grades are earned, not granted.  

I would love to do a research project exploring the relationship between ethical perspectives and propensity to cheat. 


  1. That reminds me of an upsetting experience I had in a math class a few years ago. As we assembled for lecture, we turned in our homework by dropping it in a stack on a table near the podium. As I was leaving mine, a girl I didn't know asked to see my paper. I naively thought she just wanted to compare solutions and make friends. Blatant expectations from other students that I would do their homework had stopped in high school, or so I'd thought; and besides, the professor was at the podium literally less than ten feet away. Instead, she started copying my solutions as fast as she could scribble. I was so shocked, all I could do was stand there with my mouth open.

    Among some of both my fellow students and people in my broader social circle, there was a lack of understanding about the purpose of education. As it was put to me at one point, you "play the game" to get "a piece of paper" which is your "ticket" to a job. Your choice of major, the content of your classes, and your grades would all be forgotten in the end.

    FWIW, most of the fellow students I witnessed using unethical means to pass classes came from cultures that valued conformity, appearances, and memorization over individuality, substance, and understanding. In these cultural groups, there was often familial pressure on the better students to pull the rest along. I saw this because my university had a very high foreign student population; of course there are many other reasons.

  2. I am amazed that at the university level of education there is any cheating at all.

    It is about studying and preparing. Put in the time and effort- most often you will do well. Don't we already know this?

    I know that I could have used an "expert" on a few of your exams-

  3. Kellyn and Mike,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I remember going to extraordinary lengths to study for exams, but I agree, cheating would have been unthinkable. It has been one of the most disappointing aspects of teaching.