In September of this year, the New York Times published an article entitled “Studies Find More Students Cheating, With High Achievers No Exception.”
The article reaffirmed a widely known the truth about what has become an increasing problem in America’s higher education system.
According to one study conducted by Donald McCabe, a business professor at Rutgers, cheating has become so rampant in American universities that a startling 82 percent of sampled college alumni admitted to engaging in some form of cheating during their time as undergraduates (download a copy in pdf here). Other studies have tabbed the number even higher, although the methodologies of these studies are unknown.
As a student at one of America’s many prestigious universities, I have seen the effects of the growing culture of academic dishonesty, largely fueled by a belief in success at any cost. But is the increasing pressure of an ever more competitive job market really to blame? According to Howard Gardner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, it is. Gardner gave this quote to the New York Times concerning the attitudes of students at elite colleges: “We [the students] want to be famous and successful, we think our colleagues are cutting corners, we’ll be damned if we’ll lose out to them.”
As disconcerting as this seeming endemic problem may be, the specter of academic dishonesty leading to fraud and venality in the real world is troubling as well. According to a Southern Illinois University study, students who committed plagiarism in college viewed themselves as more likely to break rules in the workplace and engage in illegal activities.
In what has become a seeming arms race, administrators at Central Florida University have begun experimenting with a highly regimented and sophisticated system of test-taking that includes hidden cameras and screen captures of all student work. But is a culture of deterrence through surveillance truly the solution to a problem that appears to be systemic and unceasing?
Andrew Reichardt is an editorial intern with the FCPA Blog.