Why Do Students Cheat?

Overview

Academic misconduct stems not just from dishonesty but from simple ignorance of the scholarly dos and dont's as well.

Students may cheat intentionally due to:

  • poor time management (the most likely reason)
  • having a poor grasp of the material
  • feeling the class is not relevant
  • thinking they won't be held accountable
  • stress inside or outside the classroom

It is inaccurate to assume that it is only the poorer performing students who cheat. In fact, those who cheat are often highly motivated students who find themselves in a bind.

Avoiding Plagiarism

If students carefully mark their notes to distinguish which of them are their own ideas—formulated while reading—and which are summaries, paraphrases, or exact quotes from the assigned reading material, they will have an easier time avoiding plagiarism when preparing their final drafts.

Unintentional plagiarism is frequently the result of:

  • misunderstanding when and how to cite, or
  • sloppy note taking when researching their topic.

Students, especially freshman and international students, will generally need help understanding the difference between generic Web searching and academic research, as well as what differentiates common knowledge from copyright protected intellectual property.


CSU Cheating Survey | 2009

CSU students were recently asked if they had ever committed 29 different types of academic misconduct. They were also asked to rank the seriousness of each offense. For the 10 items ranked as most serious, the table at right shows how nearly 750 students anonymously reported their own behavior.

Most CSU students never commit the most serious intentional acts of academic misconduct.

Source: Student Academic Integrity Survey, Colorado State University, 2009

Percentage of Students Who Have Cheated By…

Never
Once
Taking an Exam for Another Student
97%
2%
Turning in a Paper Purchased Online
97%
2%
Texting During an Exam
97%
2%
Accessing the Web during an Exam
95%
2%
Changing a Response to an Exam
95%
3%
Turning in a Paper Written by Another Student
94%
4%
Taking a Quiz for Another Student
94%
3%
Bringing Information to an Exam
87%
7%
Providing Answers During an Exam
85%
8%
Copying During an Exam
72%
10%