Technology Aids in Cheating

Many+students+use+their+cellular+devices+to+text+answers+or+ask+for+help+during+tests+and+other+assessments.+--+Zhi+Xiang+Lin

Many students use their cellular devices to text answers or ask for help during tests and other assessments. -- Zhi Xiang Lin

Cheating is not new in high school, but with technology, cheating has become much easier and more typical in a high school student’s educational success.

Many students use their cellular devices to text answers or ask for help during tests and other assessments. -- Zhi Xiang Lin

Approximately 95 percent of high school students have cheated on minor assignments such as homework, according to Rutgers University business professor and founding president of the Center of Academic Integrity Don McCabe’s 2008 survey. McCabe’s study also found that 58 percent of high school students have plagiarized work and more than 60 percent of students have cheated on a test.

With technology, cheating rates have significantly risen, contradicting the idea that technology would reduce the cheating rate due to the capability to store files inside of electronics. Like at other high schools across the nation, RHS,students have taken portable technology with teacher’s test data on them as a means to cheat. Numerous incidents have occurred within MCPS in which both students and teachers have gotten their flash drives stolen.

Sometimes an impulsive prank can lead to a student inadvertantly taking tests. A student was involved in a recent flash drive theft incident and may not have been aware of the flash drive’s value when he took it. “I didn’t even realize what was on [the flash drive] before I brought it back the next day to return it,” said sophomore Chester Speiser. “It was an impulsive teenage thing to do; the thought process I had was unfortunately nonexistent.”

The consequences for taking a flash drive are more serious than what may be expected. No matter the reason for the robbery, students could get suspended, expelled or end up with SWOP, which is a Saturday work program. Severe punishments are necessary because of all the information teachers store on flash drives. With content such as exams and letters of recommendation on a portable device, flash drives are prone to danger. “If a student steals a flash drive, we will prosecute,” said Principal Dr. Debra Munk. “It’s very serious.”

Teacher are not the only victims, however. RHS students have also reported stolen flash drives. Students are advised to not leave their flash drives lying around where peers could be tempted to plagiarize essays and other student work. Dr. Munk also recommends to install a password to protect the flash drive.

Online websites offer student essays for a price. Categories range from religion to finance to suit any student’s needs. Even free essays are offered. According to www.onlineessays.com, “[There are] currently over 70,000 professionally written essays in our database. If you can’t find an essay on your topic, then take advantage of our online essay writing service.” Thousands of websites designed to help students cheat exist on the Internet, increasing the rate of plagiarism among high school students.

Teachers have attempted to prevent the plagiarism trend with their own technology. Commonly used website by RHS teachers, www.turnitin.com, exists to alert teachers of plagiarism. Teachers make class accounts on www.turnitin.com, at which point they post assignments that students must hand in electronically. A program created by the site then reviews the material handed in to search similar assignments. “I’m sure people are going to cheat, but turnitin.com is pretty good about catching that,” said English teacher William Jameson.

Students have also found less predictable methods of cheating. The required Ti-83, Ti-84 and Ti-84 plus calculators used in Algebra 1 through all upper level math classes have one flaw prone to cheaters. These advanced calculators are not only able to store numbers, but words, too.

Students have been reported to store formulas during math tests in their calculators, without teachers giving the calculator a second glance. In rare, yet existing, occasions, students have been caught pulling a calculator out of their backpack to glance at a saved note, and quickly slipping it back into the backpack. Not to mention the calculators are capable of games, which adds to in-class distractions.

With more teachers aware of these alarmingly advanced methods of cheating, they can be on the look-out to stop cheaters from continuing their ways. “Cheaters will be caught; believe me, they are caught. And it’s just not worth it,” said Jameson.