Does A Grading Policy Foster Cheating?

What causes academic cheating? When it comes to academic cheating I don’t do it, I don’t condone it and I detest it, however I am not ignorant to the fact that it does happen. When it comes to cheating in any sense of the word it comes down to the individual %100. However, when it comes to cheating in the academic field the environment itself can create excuses that a student would use in order for them to feel that they have no choice but to cheat.

In outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of the article titled “Academic Dishonesty of Undergraduates: Methods of Cheating” Michelle Witherspoon, PhD Nancy Maldonado, PhD and Candace H. Lacey, PhD outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of cheating as well as the methods used to cheat.

In their study they write that “society has communicated the concept that students need to acquire a degree for future employment, financial security, and personal reasons” and that the grades the students receive play a very important role in attainting that degree. The study goes on to say that because grades play an important role students are under pressure and therefore anxious about the grades they receive.

As a student myself I feel the pressures: worrying whether or not I will finish an assignment on time or have enough time to study. Being a college student means you have to setup a schedule, be it in your mind or actually writing out a list. While I do the best I can there are only so many hours in a day that I can give to studying, especially when I take more than one class. There have been times where I have sacrificed sleep in order to get my work done.

In a system that measures a student’s value based on letters and numbers there will always be cheats. Someone will always want to have an A or a %100 on their final paper and will feel that their best isn’t good enough and therefore will cheat to get it.

The grading system, on its face looks like a road map that leads to achievement and success. However, if you look deep enough, it is a system that leads students to compare themselves to others. Students can say “he received a better grade than I so therefore he is smarter than me.” I know that because I have personally said it to myself.

In another article titled “Academic Dishonesty: Cheating Among Community College Students” by Pat Gallagher Moeck he writes “[w]ith the pressure of a bad grade looming, some students will resort to submitting an illegally acquired paper rather than try to author their own work.”

He goes on to say that “[w]ith tremendous pressure and competition for grades, some will cheat or plagiarize to maintain a high GPA.” A higher CPA can please parents, lead to scholarships, and impress potential employers.

According to Moeck’s article he states that the percentage of students who cheat in college can vary from 40 to 90 percent and for those who cheated at least once at 90 percent.

This current system leads people to feel insecure about their abilities. These doubts and insecurities are the factors that make the student feel or believe that cheating is the only option.

Moeck writes that students with lower grades cheat more often than those who do not, men cheat more than women, students with low self-esteem or that are high strung and those who do not manage their time effectively are more prone to cheat.

There are many students who may feel that plagiarizing is cheating but taking medication, such as Adderall is not.

The Baruch College code of academic honesty defines cheating as “the attempted or unauthorized use of materials, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.”

If I were judging Adderall by Baruch’s own definition then using the drug is considered a form of cheating.

According to the website,, “Adderall is a stimulant drug which contains an amphetamine. It is used to improve attention span and decreases impulsivity.” Because of its effect it has on improving attention span it can be seen as a study aid especially if not prescribed to you.

When it comes to Baruch and cheating I don’t feel that there is more or less than any other college. The only thing that I know is that there is cheating.

However Moeck writes that cheating is more prevalent among business majors, undergraduate students as well as younger students engaged in social activities.

The study of Witherspoon, Maldonado and Lacey also stated that “graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate, and business school students are cheating even more than others.” Their study, which comprised of 186 undergraduate students in 11 general education open to all majors in an unnamed urban college, stated that 20.3% of the students said they had never cheated but that 79.7% admitted to cheated at least once.

Once again as I have said before it is %100 the person’s choice whether they choose to cheat, but the environment and the pressures faced within the environment can make students who would normally adhere to the rules feel that cheating is the only option.



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