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Cheating Lessons

Cheating Lessons

James M. Lang
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Cheating Lessons
    Book Description:

    Cheating Lessons is a guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots. James Lang analyzes the features of course design and classroom practice that create cheating opportunities, and empowers teachers to build more effective learning environments. Instructors who curb academic dishonesty become better educators in other ways as well.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72623-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
    (pp. 1-4)

    When I first approached the research literature on cheating in higher education, I came to it without any particular idea of what I wanted to say. My personal experiences with cheating were probably a lot like yours: students occasionally cheated in my classes, it baffled and frustrated me, and I was never sure how to react. I hoped to emerge from the research I was doing with a clearer idea of how I could respond to cheating in my own courses, and with an equally clear idea of how to convey whatever I had learned to colleagues in all disciplines...

  4. PART ONE Building a Theory of Cheating

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 5-7)

      Tricia Bertram Gallant, one of the lead researchers on cheating in higher education today, offers an excellent and concise overview of academic dishonesty from 1760 to the present day in her bookAcademic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century.In that history you will find an oft-repeated gem of a quotation from an Ivy League administrator in 1928:

      Many young men and women who are scrupulously honorable in other relationships of life seem to have little hesitancy in submitting themes and theses which they have not written, in bringing prepared ‘cribs’ to examinations, and in conveying information to one another during...

      (pp. 8-17)

      In the spring of 1962, a doctoral student at Columbia University set out to create the first large-scale estimate of cheating rates in America’s colleges and universities. William J. Bowers did not have much to work with in the way of precedents for this research; some previous scholars had attempted to understand the psychological makeup of student cheaters, and a few others had attempted institution-specific studies to gauge cheating rates or investigate possible methods for reducing or preventing cheating. The goal of his project, Bowers explains in his introduction, was “to combine into a single research effort three objectives of...

      (pp. 18-35)

      To understand what features of a learning or performance environment might induce human beings to cheat, I want to consider four case studies in which cheating was a well-documented phenomenon: two of them from the more distant past, and two of them from our own time. We will begin, as stories and arguments about western education so often begin, with the ancient Greeks. Instead of taking you to Plato’s Lyceum, though, or the groves in which Aristotle strolled and cogitated, or any other landmark of Greek education and philosophy, we open with the Olympic Games.

      In his bookThe Ancient...

      (pp. 36-54)

      In the spring of 2012, economist and behavioral theorist Dan Ariely published a book entitledThe (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves,a fascinating account of multiple experiments in which he and a series of colleagues tested the willingness of people to cheat in a variety of situations. In order to make these experiments work, Ariely and his colleagues—like the Princess Alice researchers—had to figure out how to create environments that would allow or even induce people to cheat. They did this in manifold and ingenious ways. Typically they designed an initial task...

  5. PART TWO The (Nearly) Cheating-Free Classroom

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 55-58)

      For the past dozen years I have been writing a regular series of columns for theChronicle of Higher Education.For the first half of that stretch, I wrote occasional personal essays about my life as an academic on the road to tenure. Once I had achieved that happy milestone, the column shifted in two important ways: it moved from occasional to monthly, and the focus shifted from my personal life to teaching and learning in higher education. Within the first year or two of starting that column, I became acutely aware of the primary challenge of a regular publication...

      (pp. 59-84)

      We all face the challenge of inspiring our students to develop intrinsic motivation to learn what we have to teach them—as opposed to inspiring them to learn it in order to achieve good grades or receive other extrinsic rewards—but I have always suspected that historians face that challenge more intensively than the rest of us. I can make a relatively straightforward case to students about why they need to develop their writing skills, for example, which will follow many of them into their careers; I suspect you can make an equally compelling case to students about the many...

      (pp. 85-104)

      We commonly use the phrase “jumping through hoops” to speak of required performances that seem divorced from any meaningful context—I used it in the last chapter to describe assignments that are unlikely to inspire intrinsic motivation. In this chapter I want to take that familiar phrase and build it into a metaphor designed to introduce the basic difference between a performance-oriented classroom environment and a mastery-oriented one. Remember that the first cheating-inducing factor we encountered, in both our historical survey and the social science literature, was a strong emphasis on performance. When students place greater emphasis on performance than...

      (pp. 105-127)

      In John Boyer’s class, opportunities to earn points on assignments and exams are frequent and plentiful. Even if he did not use a mastery learning assessment system that gave students choices among assignments, the research literature on cheating tells us that merely increasing the frequency of assessments, as he does, should contribute to lower rates of cheating in his course. Remember that in both our historical review and the social science literature, we saw that raising the stakes on an assessment may induce cheating. Infrequent, high-stakes exams—such as the Chinese civil service exams or the kind we saw described...

      (pp. 128-162)

      As the father of five children, I frequently get roped into serving as the coach or assistant coach on youth sports teams. Despite the fact that I stopped playing all sports except golf and ping pong (do those count?) in my freshman year of high school, I have now imparted my sports-oriented wisdom to young people in the areas of baseball, football, and soccer over the past dozen years or so. As a result, I have become thoroughly familiar with what I call the “good jobbing” of American youth today, and in fact am one of the main practitioners of...

  6. PART THREE Speaking about Cheating

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 163-166)

      Although the most effective means we have to reduce cheating in our courses lie within our own hands, of course cheating does occur within a larger campus context. And the fifth contextual condition that leads to greater cheating—when students perceive that their peers either are cheating around them or approve of cheating—may lend itself equally well to remedies established by the instructor and to ones constructed in the campus environment as a whole. In this final part of the book, we will turn to the ways in which both individual instructors and campus leaders—administrators, staff members, and...

      (pp. 167-191)

      One of the most publicly visible and easily graspable methods that an institution of higher education possesses to speak with its students about cheating comes in the form of the traditional honor code. A traditional honor code places the responsibility for academic integrity in the hands of the students, by requiring each incoming class to pledge loyalty to a code of behavior on their academic work—typically a code that students have authored or co-authored, and have the responsibility for maintaining and administering. According to a white paper by Timothy Dodd, a former Director of the International Center for Academic...

      (pp. 192-205)

      Despite the many common objectives we have as teachers in higher education—such as the goal of teaching our students to write well—we all know that each of our disciplines has its own standards for thinking and writing and conducting scholarly work. If a student in my Creative Nonfiction course handed me a paper that was written in the passive-voiced prose typical of a piece of research in the sciences or social sciences, I would mark it all up and send it back for revision. A student in my Senior Seminar who turned in a research paper using APA...

      (pp. 206-216)

      As much as I would love to direct the entire focus of this book toward educational approaches to cheating, part of any institution’s approach to academic integrity has to address the most effective means of responding to a cheating student. If your goal is to curb cheating on campus—as of course it should be—the first type of response that might come to mind would be to impose harsh penalties on offenders. Many honor code institutions, for example, use a severe and uniformly applied punishment, such as failure of the course, for all academic honesty violations, first offenses included....

      (pp. 217-224)

      Let’s assume for the moment that you have followed all of the (excellent) advice given in this book. You have restructured your courses in ways designed to increase learning and reduce cheating, and you have convinced your colleagues and your campus to undertake an academic honesty education initiative and modify their response policy following the guidelines outlined in the previous chapters. You have done absolutely everything in your power to reduce the incentive and opportunity for students to cheat in your courses and on campus. Will you still have students cheating in your courses? Of course. You are always going...

  7. CONCLUSION: The Future of Cheating
    (pp. 225-228)

    You will have noticed that although we have reached the conclusion, I have hardly touched on the subject of cheating and technology, or of cheating in online courses or blended courses or any other course that relies on the Web for its structure or content. You may be as surprised as I was to learn that the current research on this subject suggests that neither the rates of cheating nor the principles for addressing it are much different in virtual environments than they are in real ones. This may come as a surprise to you, especially if the grumpy professor...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 231-248)
    (pp. 249-252)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 253-257)