Plagiarism is defined as taking another person’s ideas and passing them off as your own. Although many consider quotes within an essay as being the only way to commit the act, there are several ways for students to cheat. Many teachers and parents place a lot of emphasis on plagiarism by punishing students who cheat, but few try to understand why individuals are so dishonest. So why do people cheat?
Forms of Plagiarism
In order to answer the question, “Why do people cheat?” you must have a clear picture of what constitutes plagiarism. While an individual who puts their name on a report that they have not written is clearly guilty of cheating, people who quote portions of the report and tell people that they did not formulate such ideas cannot be accused of cheating. Only those persons who strive to deceive their audience are plagiarists.
Although English teachers and professors are often on the prowl for cheaters, there are ways to be dishonest in other subjects as well. A Math student, for instance, can copy the answers to problems from the smart kid in the class and he would be guilty of cheating. Although the answers are objective, the mere fact that the copier did not work out the problems himself makes him guilty of trickery.
Science and History students can also be found guilty of defrauding. The scope, however, becomes more restrained to just having a cheat sheet during exams when the courses are more concerned with established facts.
Reason to Cheat #1: Poor Planning
Many students fail to properly prepare for exams and become fearful of failing the course because of poor planning. This is especially true during final exams when one test can determine if a student receives a high or average mark for the semester. Kids will often take the risk of creating cheat sheets or even glancing at the next person’s paper in hopes of correctly answering enough questions to score well.
What students fail to understand is that they stand the chance of failing the course anyway if caught cheating by the instructor. College students even face possible expulsion if it is found that they are guilty of deception. Admission into college is already difficult; it is even more challenging to get into another university after being expelled from one school for plagiarism.
Even with the consequences being great, many kids and young adults will choose what they think is the high road to accommodate for their poor planning.
Reason to Cheat #2: Poor Understanding of the Subject
While many kids learn at the speed that the instructor is teaching the material, some children find it difficult to keep up with the course. Although asking for additional help should be the route that they take, some students who struggle with academics will wait until the last minute to try and understand the material. Once they realize that they cannot grasp the information overnight, they resort to asking smarter kids the answers to questions during testing.
This reason for cheating can also be linked to poor planning since students who prepare ahead often ask for help the moment that they realize they do not have a firm grasp on the subject being discussed. Kids who wait until the last minute will more than likely research the best ways to cheat on a test rather than ask the teacher to meet with them for one-on-one tutoring. In fact, some students find it embarrassing to admit that they do not understand the concept at the same speed as everyone else, and prefer to find test answers than actually learn the material on their own.
Reason to Cheat #3: The Idea of Expectations
Many universities have studied plagiarism, and found that those who cheat at the collegiate level are often those who are doing well in school. While some may not understand why a student who is excelling in academics would resort to deception, it is important to understand the mindset of such individual.
A student who has worked hard and received compliments from her professor all semester is hoping to impress him with the final draft of her essay. Her hopes are destroyed when she looks at the syllabus and discovers that the final draft is due in one day and not three. Instead of taking the outline that she has created and working all night to create text of her own, the student may take the low road and purchase a paper online. It is not until her deception is brought to light that she realizes the error of her ways; by this time it is too late.
Although it is important to have an instructor’s expectations in mind when completing assignments, it is essential that students do not become so involved with making a good impression that they forget about morals. While teachers want to see their star students continue to thrive, they would much rather see them fail an exam or miss a deadline than cheat.
How Parents Can Help
Instead of scrutinizing a child’s performance in school, parents should find ways to praise effort. While rewarding a failing grade is not ideal, understanding why a child did not do well is important.
Perhaps the child studied the wrong material or forgot that there was a backside to the test. These instances of poor performance are not caused by total negligence in terms of preparation. In such case, a mom or dad should acknowledge the fact that their child did prepare and advise them to double check their work before submitting it to the teacher.
Parents can also meet with teachers if there is a pattern of poor performance. Such collaboration can assist them in helping children succeed.
What Teachers Can Do
Sometimes children who are struggling do not reach out to instructors for help. It is, therefore, beneficial to have a teacher who reaches out to them when it is evident that concepts are not understood. Such effort on the teacher’s behalf can cause a student to confidently approach him if she needs help in the future. Building a relationship based on trust can also discourage plagiarism since kids typically do not resort to cheating if they feel like an instructor is approachable.
Teachers can also seat students in a manner that discourages cheating during big exams. Walking the floor during tests makes kids think twice about pulling out that cheat sheet. Large gaps in between students also works as it makes it nearly impossible for a child to look on another kid’s paper during an exam.
Learning how to cheat on a test is fairly easy. Instructors can make it difficult to execute deception in class by being alert.