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​​The Solution to Cheating Lies in a Change in Student Culture

In an age where a simple click of a button brings vast amounts of information to your fingertips, rampant cheating has become almost inevitable. The real test of our education system, however, will be how schools and students join together to maintain honesty in school environments, with the added challenge of technology. 

You could say that to fix a student problem, you need to think like a student. What stresses students out? Why does cheating seem more convenient than giving an honest answer? Once teachers and administrators understand the answers, our school will be more well-versed in the student mind, which is the key to finding solutions to this problem. 

During the height of the pandemic, when school was online and students did all their work at home, academic dishonesty was hard to screen for. The disconnect between the teacher and the student was part of the problem. Instead of physically being in a room with a teacher and other kids, individuals were alone in their academics, which eliminated the personal aspect of school, such as teacher-student relationships. 

Harvard Professor of the Practice of Computer Science David J. Malan uses a concept called the “regret clause” to discourage students from cheating. Malan’s policy is to let students receive an incomplete or failing grade on an assignment if they admit to cheating 72 hours after submission, and he refrains from punishing them more severely. He hoped this would let students correct their own blunders, and train their consciences to keep them from cheating again. 

However, while this may work for some students, not all may be fazed by their own consciences. Everyone is different, and everyone’s relationship with learning is different. This means that students who had a more difficult time with learning during the past year and a half of online education will most likely feel more inclined to cheat. For those who are desperately trying to stay afloat in school, the regret clause won’t cut it. 

Teachers need to investigate what motivates their students in their lives, and try to apply that to the classroom. Finding common ground with students will help them realize that they have a place in school, and people care about their well-being. Another thing teachers could do is discuss the long-term effects of cheating, such as not fully learning information students could use in the future, or not developing productive study habits. 

While this dilemma seems to loom above school administrations as something to fix, a change in student culture would be exceedingly helpful as well. Trends are something that dictate the teenage world, and using this to teachers’ advantage could be the way to go. At the beginning of the school year, students began doing “angelic yields,” a parody on the devious lick trend on TikTok, showing how they could use the wide range of social media to do some good in their school. This was one way a trend positively impacted student culture, and it could be done again with the problem of cheating. Encouraging each other to stay honest in our studies would help us all out, and it would give us a better basis on which to connect with teachers, strengthening our community.