What's Happening in Character?

Preventing Academic Dishonesty Part 2: What Teachers Can Do

Posted by Melissa Crossman on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 @ 10:06 AM

From a teacher’s perspective, cheating is both a major hassle and a serious disappointment. When students cheat, teachers must bother first with catching the cheating and then with dispensing punishment. They’ll also have to deal with feelings of disappointment in students they’d trusted as they know cheating is a demonstration of the student’s failure to follow a moral path.

 

 

As every teacher knows, when students cheat they reduce the likelihood of reaching their goals such as graduating high school and attending college, making cheating a serious issue worthy of attention. For teachers, combating cheating shouldn’t be a one-time task, but instead a continual process; if they revisit the topic of cheating often they stand a better chance of ultimately preventing it from happening.

 
Talk about Cheating from the Start

 

Many teachers make the mistake of waiting for a student to engage in academic dishonesty before broaching the subject. Instead, proactive educators should discuss the topic from the start of the academic term, beginning with a definition of cheating and a discussion of why it’s a problem. This conversation about the dangers of dishonesty shouldn’t focus solely on the consequences of cheating, but should instead include an explanation of the fact that students who cheat fail to learn the content material, making them ill-prepared for life outside of school where they’ll need to apply this learning. By arming students with this broad definition and acquainting them with the negatives of cheating, teachers can potentially prevent the practice altogether.

 
Create an Environment of Integrity 

 

Regardless of how little it may seem students care, most are actually quite eager to please their teachers. From the start of the year, make it clear to your pupils that you value honesty above all else. When students lie about behaviors in which they have engaged, call them on it, telling them how disappointed you are in their dishonesty. As they see how much you value veracity, they‘ll be more apt to be truthful at all times. This propensity for being honest despite the consequences will likely extend to remaining academically honest and resisting the urge to cheat.

 
Punish Cheating

 

Students are watching your every move. If you catch a student or group of students cheating, you must punish the cheaters not only as a way to dissuade them from engaging in the same negative behavior again, but also as a way to show other students that cheating won’t be tolerated. If you catch cheating, punish the offenders swiftly and with relative severity. If you attempt to brush the situation under the rug or give a small slap on the wrist, other students will see this as a sign that cheating isn’t as big a deal as you claim it is. Once they see this, they may be less likely to engage in academic dishonesty going forward.

 

 

Integrate Moral Lessons into the Curriculum

  

Your students will be less likely to cheat if you can create in them an eagerness to follow the moral path in life. As you plan your curriculum, integrate lessons in morals and values. Select readings in which characters make honest choices despite the consequences and highlight historical situations in which individuals have engaged in honest behavior. By teaching your students lessons that show the value of doing what’s right, you can not only likely prevent them from cheating, but also encourage them to be good citizens, shaping them into the responsible adults you hope they’ll become.

  
Teachers set the tone in their classrooms. If they clearly communicate to students that cheating is unacceptable starting on the first day of class and continuing to the final day of the school term, they’ll likely be successful in reducing the incidence of cheating among their students.

Topics: cheating, core values, moral character, teachable moments