On one hand Shelby has been performing poorly in Chemistry and this has put her in trouble especially with a dad who has told her that there will be consequences if she fails. In turn Shelby has been working hard to ensure that she passes the exam, she has been going to the library and cutting the time she spends with friends so that she can study. Since the test is going is going to be graded using a strict curve, if her friend cheats and performs better than her, this might lead to her getting bad grades. If other students perform better than her through their genuine hard work then so be it. However it will be very unfair that the dishonesty of her friend makes her fail yet she worked very hard to improve her grades while this cheating friend was probably out the whole time partying while she studied, it is therefore only fair and logical that Shelby to report her friend.
Yet it is not that simple, Shelby is at crossroads here, on the other hand this is her friend and if she reports her to the teacher she risks destroying their relationship and even her relationship with the other students. Many will see her as a sell out and she risks being avoided by her classmates. This is a big issue for any student as social acceptance especially by peers is a very important factor in building self-esteem and Identity. Research shows that cheating is becoming more and more acceptable in schools and that many students are doing it today as compared to ten years ago and this might also be another factor that will make Shelby hesitate to report her friend. Despite all these factors, she cannot afford to fail, to tell or not to tell?
Shelby is not alone, this is a dilemma that more and more students are facing as cheating has become very prevalent. According to (Garett,2013) “These days, it seems like cheating is everywhere, from the baseball diamond to the classroom. With stories of professional dishonesty and performance-enhancing drugs permeating the adult world, it's no wonder that studies show academic cheating among children and teens on the rise.” This is mainly caused by the ever increasing pressure to get straight A’s and get to college and universities as society perceives a college degree as the ultimate symbol of success. This is also a generation that has no intrinsic motivation to study so as to get the good grades, it is the micro wave generation with instant coffee, microwave pizza and instant messaging, they want everything and they want it fast. This is why cheating becomes a very attractive method of getting good grades without studying.
The cheat sheet has always been used since time immemorial by students to cheat during sit-in exams today with the advent of technology and mobile telephony it has become much easier for students to cheat, students text each other answers in the classroom or even take photos of their notes which they refer to during the exam. (Shon, 2006) discusses the various innovative methods that students use to cheat such as writing cheat sheets and hiding them in pockets or in their pencil pouches like Shelby’s friend, writing these ‘cheat sheets’ on body parts such as palms and even thighs where professors wouldn’t suspect, this is done especially by female students who would refuse to expose say their thighs should the professor suspect them of cheating claiming sexual harassment.
Just how do students get away with cheating even in the presence of their teachers? Truth is that they are very innovative and cunning. These students study the habits of the professor and look for opportunities to take advantage of. Does the teacher bring reading material such as books to the exam room? The time that the teacher spends reading be it 3 or 5 minutes is used in consulting the cheat sheets, copying other students and using the internet to find answers before the teacher looks up.(Shon, 2006)
What about those who copy from others? This group also has interesting tactics from sitting in a V formation like birds, with the ‘source’ at the tip of the V and other at the students in the line, the information flows backwards from the source with each student copying the student before them. (Shon,2006) One wonders why such innovative students cannot spend their time reading because they are very smart and would pass very easily.
Non- verbal cues such as coughing and tapping of pens are also used by students. When these cheating students get caught they still have interesting methods of defending themselves. Those who are caught using cheat sheets usually chew and swallow them so as to ‘destroy the evidence’ and this is something that Shelby’s friend might do if Shelby reports her, she might even go as far as to claim that she was just putting the cheat sheet in her back pack and since Shelby had seen her before the exam begun there really is no proof that she was planning to use it during the exam.
In the light of all these facts, if I were Shelby I would opt to tell my friend not to use the cheat sheet or I will report her to the teacher. If she doesn’t listen I will report her to the teacher myself, this will be not only fair to me but also to other students like me who have worked hard by studying for the test. Since most students find science subjects like chemistry difficult, I am quite sure that there are more students who are planning to cheat that I don’t know of, they maybe also using cheat sheets or other methods like copying from smart students or using Google to find answers.
This will make the teacher more alert and be on the lookout for more cheats in the exam room as most of them are very innovative. Am sure in this scenario where the teacher has said that a strict curve will be used in grading, most of the students will thank me for reporting my friend as this will ensure that only the honest students pass the exam. This is the only fair and right thing to do as people should only reap what they sow, in this case Shelby worked hard and she should not fail her exam because of someone who didn’t even work.
Garret, R. (2013). Why Kids Cheat and How to Stop It
Shon, P. (2006).How College Students Cheat On In-Class Examinations: Creativity, Strain, and Techniques of Innovation. MPublishing, University of Michigan Library.