Academic integrity and the importance of getting A’s

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In the last 7 years 1,600 individual academic integrity violations have been reported at the Illinois University. The frequency of academic integrity breaches has had many professors take the matter in their hands and implement more rigorous proctoring during their exams.

One professor for instance, dealing with a record of academic cheating in previously held exams, has been videotaping students while taking her exam to deter them from cheating. The professor had even given students incentive, by offering all of them an extra credit should none of them cheat during the exam. According to a student’s opinion feature in The Daily Illini, who was taking the exam, none of her classmates received the extra credit that time, or any other time the professor had provided the motivation.

Was the incentive to avoid cheating not appealing enough?

It seems that students’ need to achieve a high GPA or pass a high-stakes exam is prioritized over personal values and ethical motivations. Students who feel pressure or are unable to meet an exams’ demand find it easier to follow the cheat-and-pass approach, rather than the more demanding, study-and-pass path.

The underlying reason is not that students lack integrity or don’t have any values. It could be discovered in how the education system works. Students at a very young age get to learn that grades are often focused on more than learning itself. It doesn’t matter if you don’t actually know algebra as long as you can show you do during an one-off exam. The emphasis is on appearances and not the ability to apply knowledge critically.

Until the focus returns to learning and knowledge, rather than metrics, it’s will de difficult for students to drastically curb cheating. Until then, exam proctoring technology can help decrease the number of cheating incidents and can even be used to remind students that cheating during an exam is a violation of their institutions academic standards.

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