With the infinite amount of information available online comes the temptation to copy it rather than craft it into your own words and ideas. It seems that for an increasing number of kids feeling pressure to succeed, that temptation is too great. In response, a growing industry turning profit by selling essays or offering exam answers and cheating devices has risen up to meet the desperation of students who feel they need to cheat to achieve academic success.
The UK’s Guardian online recently looked into the prevalence of plagiarism in schools. Its findings revealed that a larger number of schools were fortifying their anti-cheating methods in response to an increase in the number of students turning to an easy out. Using tools such as cell phones or MP3 devices, students go beyond not properly citing sources to receiving answers on the very exams that determine their entrance into university. Ofqual, the office that regulates A-levels and GCSE’s, reported an increase of six percent in penalties given out for malpractice, up from 4,400 in 2009. Despite the advanced software that can be used to catch cheaters, it is important that students are taught from a young age how to properly site sources.
Not just a problem in the UK, students taking the Gaokao (Chinese university entrance exam) often find the temptation to cheat simply too great. Zhou Baoying, head of Guizhou’s exam center, claimed that all attempts to cheat during the Gaokao were foiled. “No cheating was found during the exam.” However, many students were caught cheating prior to or during the exam, utilizing all sorts of advanced gadgets including earpieces and transmission receiving devices resembling watches. Putting no price on the hopes of a successful future, 11 transmission sets confiscated by police in Honghu (in Hubei province) had an estimated total value of more than RMB 100,000 (USD 14,640).
The trend towards plagiarism and cheating does not bode well for the regulators trying to maintain a level playing field. Even with the reality of a zero score if caught, more and more students are turning to technology to help their scores. In a constant battle between administrators and students looking to cheat, no one seems to be winning.