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Teachers should take additional steps to combat academic dishonesty


Almost every high school student has sat at their desk stumped, unable to solve a difficult question during a test. At that moment, they think about what it would be like to have access to the internet. Well now, during virtual learning, what was once a mere momentary desire has become reality.

At Paly, students are often held to extremely high standards regarding their academic performance by their peers, teachers, and parents. In our culture of academic excellence, it’s no surprise that some students resort to cheating. 

According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, statistics from a study conducted by Dr. Donald McCabe showed 64% of American high school students admitted to having cheated on a test. Teachers are aware that their students may feel inclined to cheat, and make it difficult for students to cheat on tests during in-person school. 

However, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic raises new issues concerning academic dishonesty. When tests are conducted in-person, teachers can monitor students better and regulate what they bring to the testing environment. With classes conducted over Zoom, though, students can cheat with relative ease. 

On Zoom, students are able to look up answers and easily access their notes, and while cheating is not as easily preventable over Zoom, there are some strategies teachers can employ to decrease it. 

One step teachers should take is mandating students keep their cameras on and pointed at the student during Zoom tests. Teachers and students seeing each other helps mimic a classroom environment and discourages obvious forms of cheating like using a phone or notebook. While this method isn’t foolproof, the threat of a teacher catching a student cheating may be enough to dissuade some students. 

Having students keep their camera on ensures students are engaged in class. Not only does requiring students to turn their cameras on make it easier to catch cheating students, it also creates a more realistic classroom atmosphere, letting students learn more effectively and decreasing the need for academic dishonesty.

Another method teachers should use is to tweak test questions in a way that ensures that even the most determined cheaters will have a difficult time. By constructing their own quiz questions to make answers more difficult to find on the internet or by taking an problem online and substituting keywords, that makes it harder for students to cheat.

Transitioning from multiple choice questions to more free response problems can also decrease cheating by requiring critical thinking and application of known concepts, rather than allowing students to look up answers. Problems that force students to think are major hurdles for would-be cheaters. Adjusting the nature of the test questions can make solutions and explanations significantly harder to access in a testing environment.

Such measures only need to be taken because students feel inclined to cheat. Teachers should teach their students that cheating hurts them in the long run because they become reliant on it in the future. Cheating students are only building a harmful habit that will make their adult lives considerably more difficult because students will constantly look for ways to cut corners. 

Teachers should actively combat academic dishonesty changes in policies and testing protocols, showing students that they care. While teachers cannot guarantee students will not attempt to cheat, they can do their best to create a learning environment that promotes honesty.

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