Poll Reveals Statistics on Cheating at TKC

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Academic fraud is an inevitable problem at any university, and The King’s College is no exception. In a recent online survey of TKC students, 24 percent of the 80 anonymous participants admitted to cheating while at King’s.

In addition, 50 percent of students responded that they “know of a friend who has cheated while at The King’s College.”

These numbers display the failure of students to abide by the Honor Code, which explicitly states that a King’s student will not “lie, cheat, steal, or turn a blind eye to those who do.”

“Cheating and honor are inextricably linked,” Dean of Students David Leedy said.  “When students cheat, they are also lying about their abilities and stealing a grade that they don’t deserve.”

Leedy went on to say that, “cheating not only undermines the academic integrity of the school but students’ own personal integrity as well.”

The King’s College adheres to a strict three-strike policy when it comes to cheating.  For a first offense, a student will fail his assignment.  The next time he is caught, a student will fail the course.  And finally, if a student is caught cheating a third time, he will receive a hearing before the Honor Council and will face the possibility of expulsion.

Leedy explained that while most students will reform after being caught once, he can recall other specific examples of repeat offenders who had to be academically dismissed from the school.  One memory that particularly stood out was of a boy who was expelled for cheating during the final semester of his senior year.

“Each time you’re confronted is a new opportunity to learn,” Leedy explained.  “This is a juncture when you can examine your priorities and determine what sort of person you’d like to be.  Cheating in school can lead to many other forms of dishonesty later on in life.”

Anthony Bradley, Ph.D is an associate professor of Theology and Ethics at The King’s College.  In his required Christianity and Society class, Bradley discusses the mentality behind cheating.

“Cheating is the pathology of a generation,” Bradley explained.  “It has become so commonplace in our culture that students now view cheating as a valid and excusable option when really, it shouldn’t be.”

Bradley uses the book The Narcissism Epidemic to lecture on the topic of cheating.  Within the text, authors Jean Twenge and Keith Cambell argue that American students today feel “entitled” to good grades without earning them.

Bradley supports this theory, saying that cheaters embrace a “narcissistic idolatry” of wanting to “be the best, regardless of the costs.”

Bradley believes that in these specific cases, those who commit academic fraud do so because they care more about others' perceptions of them than about self-perception or moral convictions.

“They’re willing to sacrifice their integrity, as long as it means professors and peers will view them as smarter,” Bradley explained.

Bradley also believes that another root cause of cheating is fear.  Again, this can be either a fear of others' perceptions or a fear of failure.

TKC writing professor Chris Cragin Day agrees with the latter part of this statement, adding that, “most students who cheat do so out of desperation.”

“These are the students who are so insecure in their own work that they feel like cheating is their only way to get a good grade,” Cragin Day explained.  “It’s heartbreaking, because if matters are that extreme, chances are that these are the students who need our help most of all.”

Plagiarism is the most common form of cheating at The King’s College.  Cragin Day credits this to recent advancements in technology.  She explains that new Internet programs make it easy for students to download entire term papers for a price.  Other software, however, allows professors to run papers through an online filter that scans for plagiarism.

Cragin Day also limits students' temptation to cheat by assigning them unique writing prompts for which papers can’t be found online.

These sorts of precautions are now commonly-used among writing professors.

“It’s tragic that you have to expect people to cheat,” Bradley said.

“But it seems like human nature to search for short cuts,” Leedy added.  “Our goal with the Honor Code is to instill the morality of a higher road.  We want our students to be able to make the tough decisions and leave this school with intelligence and integrity.”

CampusRobert Punchur