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Study Recommends Alternatives to Surveillance to Curb Cheating


A team of researchers, inspired by a rise in cases of cheating since the start of the pandemic, have conducted a study on the motivations underlying academic dishonesty.  

The study, entitled Achievement Motivation and Academic Dishonesty: A Meta-Analytic Investigation by researchers Megan Krou, Carlton Fong, and Meagan Hoff, culminated in several suggestions educators could incorporate into their teaching to discourage students from cheating without resorting to surveillance.

Making Personal Growth, Not Grades, the Highlight of Class

The researchers found that when high grades became the standard for success, students felt more pressured to cheat. An environment where “high test scores, beating the curve, and student rankings” overshadowed ideas of personal growth and development was found to stifle learning and encourage cheating.

Instead, educators are encouraged to help students build interest in what they are learning and improve their skills in a class.

Encouraging Responsibility for Learning

It was also found that students sometimes blamed circumstances outside their control when they could not understand the course material. The researchers suggested that educators find ways to show students how they can take ownership of their learning. This means providing meaningful choices in class to help them direct their own learning process and discover a sense of independence in exploring the subject material.

Ultimately, the researchers found that giving students the opportunity to take charge of their coursework appeared to curb the desire to cheat.

Over time, a student’s confidence in their coursework also indicated that they would be less likely to cheat. The researchers suggested a teaching approach called scaffolding, which “involves assigning tasks that match the students’ ability level and gradually increase in difficulty.”

Scaffolding allows students to learn at a pace that is comfortable to them and helps develop confidence in their schoolwork. Aside from preventing academic dishonesty, increased confidence in learning results in students putting in more effort at school.

Tackling Amotivation

Students who struggle with finding inspiration in their studies — what researchers call amotivation — often resort to cheating because they see it as “a viable pathway to complete their coursework successfully rather than putting forth their own effort.”

The researchers suggest that educators try showcasing the relevance of what students are learning “between other courses, fields of study, or their future careers” so students are inspired to invest in the learning process.

Rise in Cheating Cases Since Onset of Pandemic

Since the onset of the pandemic, cheating in online classrooms has been a serious problem across the country.

The edtech company Chegg, in particular, has faced multiple accusations that their platform helps students cheat.

To curb the rise in cheating incidents, schools have started investing heavily in surveillance applications such as Proctorio. However, aside from serious privacy violations and discrimination concerns, the constant monitoring has also increased anxiety and stress among students.

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