Convenience and the age of instant gratification is here; as a society, we are now conditioned to get whatever we want quickly, and we grow more and more impatient with things that take time to develop. Mass production of goods, 2-day shipping, constant connection with the world, we are living in an era where we prefer something easier and available than something worthwhile.
Students are no exception and blur the lines between good and bad, and instead of working harder, some choose to find loopholes and ways around the red tape to get what they need. The idea of cheating isn’t new nor unheard of, we’re just getting better at it.
Why do students cheat?
Cheating has become almost normal in today’s society, and as it grows, so do the reasons to cheat. Some admit to cheating because of peer pressure; some do it because they believe there are little to no consequences. Academic pressure is also a leading cause, as success in school is ingrained as necessary for the real world — without it, you will not be successful. Students also tend to believe that cheating is a victimless crime, that “it won’t hurt anybody,” but is often a misconception. Whatever the reason, the underlying theme here is that cheating is justified by the cheater and whether its necessary or not, and what are the benefits compared to the punishments.
Do students actually get away with it?
College students are faced with dilemmas like this, whether to accept cheating as a “normal” practice or if hard work really pays off. Sometimes it’s easy to get away with it, ‘cribbing’ notes to use on a test, studying an answer key, even hiring someone else to take the exam for you. There are useful websites like Sparknotes or Assignment expert that are designed to help students with their homework legally and ethically, but sometimes these are abused and misused. These things are up to the professor to prevent or monitor, and in some cases take to administration.
From law students lying and cheating to win a writing competition to students breaking-in and hacking professors’ computers, there seems to be an uptick in the necessity to cheat. Cheating in the tech industry and computer programming courses are becoming more and more prevalent as well, as the technology advances, so are the methods students use to cruise to an “A” grade in their course or project.
The Cause and Effects of Cheating
Plagiarism is one of the older methods of cheating, using someone else’s work word-for-word and presenting it as your own, and it’s been easily detected as people have created networks, programs, and websites that detect plagiarised work. And as the lucrative careers computer science majors continue to grow, so do the number of students studying these courses. For example, Cybersecurity professionals earn an average salary of $116,000, and a Web developer makes an average of $72,000 a year. But along with a growing industry is, of course, more cheating.
Professors have been active in combating this epidemic by outlining serious warnings at the beginning of the course, before assignments, after assignments, and even after courses that could result in suspensions and expulsion from the school. Prestigious schools like Brown and Stanford have flagged plenty of students for academic dishonesty within computer science courses.
Students refute that these assignments and projects are time-consuming and tedious, and resort to GitHub, a website that hosts and reviews software code and program to other developers. And in their defense, they say programmers typically collaborate and share code with each other in open source programming in real-life jobs. The fine line between “help” and “plagiarism” is blurred and students tend to cross that line.
They have been found to share, collaborate, or even copy lines of code to pass an assignment, which professors ultimately believe will only do more harm than help students looking for a real job in computer science.
So what if students cheat?
The idea of cheating isn’t crazy or reinventing the wheel, but it causes students to learn that “it’s okay” to cheat, as long as you get away with it and justify it. This mentality affects their judgment on good or bad, disregarding major consequences. The students will blame the course, and the professors and the computer science department for their short-comings and as a reason, they need to cheat to pass.
The effects on cheating stretch past just morality and psychology. The ethics of the computer science and IT industry is at stake. Think of copyrights and licensing and privacy policies that are going to be willfully ignored because “cheating” isn’t as concerning as getting the job done is. Ethics is a huge part of working in almost any industry, let alone IT.
The Effects on the Industry
People are willing to bend the rules of morality and lie and steal and cheat their way into an easier way of life. Hackers steal credit card information, to sell to fraudsters who can falsify documents for whatever reason, don’t seem to respect other people’s privacy and information enough to stop themselves from taking a piece of the pie, and eating it too.
But with an increase in data leaks and security breaches from trusted online companies, employers are going to be looking for honest and trusted employees. These people will most likely be handling sensitive information for millions of users, and if they are not careful, it may lead to devastating breaches of information.
Because of this, Cybersecurity and other IT-related jobs are becoming more and more necessary to combat the problem. Things like hacking and cheating can work for instead of against companies, hiring hackers to see where their flaws are insecurity and to build and rebuild until the information is secure. Many who work in the IT industry will be able to recognize a plethora of faults and due to the nature of the job, will also be able to easily collaborate with others to find a solution. The importance of honesty and integrity among academics and professionals weigh heavily, now more than ever, in society today.