How common is academic cheating? Help us open up a secretive issue.

IN THE SPRING, what does a young person’s fancy lightly turn to? Thoughts of love, Alfred Tennyson said. As an educator, I think of something else: thoughts of cheating on exams.
    Today, please start by taking the Quick Poll at left. I know you’re busy and appreciate the time you spend at OurValues, reading the articles, adding comments—and voting in the weekly Quick Poll. As a teacher, I’m very interested in your responses this week.
    So, click to Comment and tell me: How prevalent is cheating?

    Very! That’s one answer from the Josephson Institute’s 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth. Based on their survey of 30,000 high school students in the U.S., they conclude:
    “Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it’s getting worse. A substantial majority (64 percent) cheated on a test during the past year (38 percent did so two or more times), up from 60 percent and 35 percent, respectively, in 2006.”
    The incidence of cheating doesn’t vary by gender, the survey found. Students from religious schools (63%) cheat more than students from non-religious independent schools (47%). Students in the southeastern U.S. cheat the most (70%); those in the Midwest cheat the least (59%).
    Why do students cheat? Timothy Brezina asked his college students about cheating. Based on his 2000 article in Teaching Sociology, here are some of their explanations:
    “It is very important to get high marks in college. [I cheated because] I felt the pressure to do well, but didn’t have enough time to study.”
    “[I cheated because of] intense pressure to get good grades—to please my parents.”
    “I didn’t feel bad about cheating because my teacher was a fool and everyone else cheated in that class.”
Are you surprised by the high incidence of academic cheating—or the explanations of it? What’s been your experience?
    What have you observed about academic cheating— or, for that matter, cheating in business or any other realm of endeavor?
    Here’s something else you might want to try: The Josephson’s Institute has an interesting survey for adults, intended to measure the examples we set for youth. I used one of their survey items for this week’s values poll.

    This week, think about asking a friend to stop by OurValues, then see what your friend has to say. We’re eager to get a good sampling of comments this week—and to get people talking openly about this issue that’s looming for millions of young people and the adults who teach them and care about them.

Please, add a Comment, even if it’s brief. You can make a difference, too, by sharing helpful thoughts with our readers.
    Or, if you prefer, drop us a quick Email.

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