Scholastic dishonesty damages integrity of high school academics

According to the Pwestpathfinder conducted survey, over 65 percent of students have seen or cheated on a test. Out of the 65 percent, five people admitted to using their phone to do so.

Maddie Cooke

According to the Pwestpathfinder conducted survey, over 65 percent of students have seen or cheated on a test. Out of the 65 percent, five people admitted to using their phone to do so.

A total of 43 pages make up the student handbook, detailed with rules and regulations. But not a single page includes the expectation surrounding academic integrity that teachers enforce in their classrooms.

“Academic integrity is the right thing to do, but sometimes, I feel so much pressure to do well or I just don’t have enough time or even feel like doing it. I do slip a little on integrity, but overall I try to balance all of my activities as well as I can but sometimes you can’t,” an anonymous senior said.

According to the academic integrity policy at the University of Oklahoma, academic integrity “is when students have honesty. Assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. Therefore, all work and all grades should result from the student’s own understanding and effort.”

Although the school handbook lacks the information regarding what it  means to have academic integrity, history teacher Jeffrey Chazen thinks it is crucial to be honest in all of your work regardless if it is in the handbook or not.

“It is a perfect life lesson to have academic integrity because it is a mark of who you are as a person. Show me someone who lacks academic integrity and I will show you someone who probably lacks integrity in their other life interactions.  Would you want to work for someone who lacks integrity?

The Pathfinder conducted a survey and 65 percent of the students who participated in it  affirmed that success in a class is more important than their integrity or doing the “right” thing.

“Success is more important, because colleges can’t read my integrity on a transcript,” senior Bryan Zhang said.

Academic integrity is not only working alone on test and quizzes, but also doing homework and class assigned work alone, according to University of Missouri.  However, students, such as junior Hannah Hoffmann, view class work as something that can be worked on with other people.

“I used to be super uptight if anyone even asked to look at my homework, I instantly assumed they were a bad student,” Hoffmann said. “Once I got to high school, though, I realized that students are all frantically trying to keep our heads above water as we deal with schoolwork especially for honors classes, jobs, sports, family and friends. We are all overcommitted and we’re all just trying to help one another.”

Sophomore Olivia Riemer feels similarly to Hoffmann; she believes working with others on small assignments helps everyone succeed.  

“I know a lot of teachers don’t like class work to be worked on with other people, but we aren’t doing the assignments together to only finish them, but to create a better understanding. Just like how we learn from our mistakes, we learn from other people,” Riemer said.

Sparknotes is an online resource that is centralized to help people understand mainly English based information. Out of the 93 percent of Pathfinder survey participants that said they use Sparknotes as a supplementary resource, 33 percent of them stated that they use it instead of doing the assignment themselves.

“If it is in replacement of students doing an assigned reading or class curriculum then I certainly don’t support it. It should not be used as a substitute for actual class content. If it is being used to supplement and reinforce content, then it’s a little more acceptable,” history teacher Annie Wayland said.

“After I read a book, I use Sparknotes as a review tool before going into discussions to make sure I understood everything. It doesn’t have to be used for cheating.” – Anonymous

Students also found that technology makes it easier to cheat, according to the 84 percent of students who participated in the Pathfinder-conducted survey.

“Pictures through phones, group chats, and online group work make cheating easier than ever.  Although cheating will only get you so far. You can’t ‘cheat’ your way through life,” Wayland said. “In addition to it impacting your life academically, it rolls over into other aspects of your life and challenges your character outside the classroom too. Cheating really is cheating yourself out of your own future.”

According to a study by Sara Rimm-Kaufman, PhD, and Lia Sandilos, PhD, University of Virginia, who study the relationships between people and their performance, distrust can be detrimental to the relationship between a teacher and student.

“I want my teachers to trust me and know I am capable of thinking on my own, I just want them to have faith and let me do my work,” Riemer said.

To prevent students from cheating, Wayland walks around her classroom during tests and makes sure there is not any hand held technology out.

“My physical presence and walking around during tests is one of the things I do. I also make sure students put up their phones in cell phone pockets so they are not accessible or tempted to use them in an improper way,” Wayland said.

While walking around a classroom may prevent students from cheating, an anonymous freshman feels that it makes their performance weaker than they would want it to be.

“Teachers who think it is necessary to put up 30 dividers between [their] students and then circle them like a vulture in hopes of catching a cheater during a test, [is] just making students do worse. Teachers should trust us more.”  – Anonymous

Teachers encourage integrity to not only help a student’s career in school, but in the future.

Academic integrity directly reflects who you are as a person.  It’s a moral code based on your values and character as a person.  If you put success or grades above integrity and your values, it means you are willing to sacrifice integrity to achieve those things. Integrity must remain at the top of our educational value system,” Wayland said.