Why Students Shouldn't Cheat

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Why do students cheat?

It is a rare individual who actively chooses to be dishonest. But why do a few students make compromising choices? What can lead people to act in ways that they aren't proud of? Below are some underlying beliefs and confusions which students at Carnegie Mellon give as explanations for slipping standards of integrity.

A Victimless Crime?

Students generally are familiar with the disciplinary actions and penalties for getting caught. However, they may fail to understand that one of the personal consequences of cheating and/or plagiarism is that they aren't actually learning or practicing the material. They may not realize that they will actually need and be accountable for certain knowledge and skills.

Instructors may not explain the personal consequences and loss of trust that accompany academic dishonesty if they are focused mainly on stating the procedures and punishments related to academic disciplinary actions. They may not tell students how dishonesty damages their trust in a student and his or her work which can affect a student’s ability to get a strong recommendation for employment or graduate school.

It's a "Dog-Eat-Dog" University

Students and their families often have very high expectations about grade achievements because they are accustomed to getting As. More pressure comes from the emphasis on grades in hiring and graduate admissions. Some students may feel pressured to develop unorthodox means to get competitive and marketable credentials.

Instructors sometimes evaluate the performance of one student against the performance of others instead of measuring each student's achievement with respect to specified criteria. If students must compete with other students to get one of a limited number of As, they begin to look for ways to "get ahead."

If Everyone Else Jumped in a Lake . . .

Students sometimes view cheating as a necessary, not totally unacceptable method for academic survival. If they believe...
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