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Cheating and plagiarism exist at every level of education. The temptation to get a quick and easy grade is alluring. Cheating even occurs at Biola, where students profess to be Christians.
Plagiarism is highly reprimanded in higher education, however, students—despite understanding the repercussions of plagiarism—continue to cheat. According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, out of 71,300 undergraduate students surveyed between 2005 and 2017, 68% admitted to cheating on written assignments or tests. An article from the New York Times cited that a majority of university students violated academic integrity to some degree and that high-achieving students are just as likely to cheat as others—an attitude that has heightened in recent years.
Biola is no exception to academic dishonesty. With the rise of the internet and easy access to devices that use the internet, cheating has become easier and it is difficult to determine what is allowed and prohibited in modern education that relies on the internet. Additionally, students experiencing heightened pressure in highly competitive university environments cheat to ensure their answers will be correct. However, as a university that claims to hold a high caliber for integrity, it is especially crucial that Biola students maintain academic integrity and face these issues that lead to academic dishonesty.
According to the New York Times, a study by Duquesne University showed that the likelihood of plagiarism and copying others’ work increased with the allowance of using online tools and sources. With universities increasingly utilizing online resources and tools as part of students’ education, plagiarism is not necessarily a black-and-white issue anymore.
Online research creates difficulty in differentiating between students’ original thoughts and ideas that were introduced online. While students may not be copying and pasting sources word for word, the internet allows students to steal concepts and ideas that do not only inform their writing—but cause their writing to mimic the work of others. This creates complexity to plagiarism, as students may not be copying an entire article and putting their name on it, but incorporating pieces of others’ ideas without proper attribution. This is much more difficult to catch, and students may be unaware that they are even stealing concepts and ideas.
College Board reported that between 1988-89 and 2018-19, tuition and fees tripled at four-year state universities and more than doubled at four-year private universities. With an increase in the expense of college education, comes an increase in the pressure to maintain grades that guarantee to pass a class. With immense tuition investments, students stand to lose a substantial amount of money in failing—leading some students to cheat on tests or plagiarize for a guarantee that their answer is correct to maintain passing grades.
Additionally, the Economist reported that growing competitiveness between universities to have the most educated, highest performing and employed students, causes student life on college campuses to change. For example, according to Stanford University News, an associate professor in Stanford’s Department of Philosophy discovered that students stole from online sources when writing papers due to the societal pressure of the university for students to achieve high grades.
With the pressure that universities themselves place on students to achieve—not for the progression of their education, but for the reputation of the university—students experience a heightened pressure to overachieve. This pressure causes some to compromise their academic integrity, as well as their own creativity and imagination.
IMPORTANCE OF ACADEMIC HONESTY
When students choose to cheat on a test or plagiarize another’s work, not only do they steal someone else’s work, but they restrict themselves from expanding their own knowledge. Whether students cheat unintentionally because of relying heavily on internet sources or seeking a guaranteed correct answer, academic dishonesty keeps students from taking full advantage of their college education.
In order to discourage plagiarism in an internet age, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development recommends not only explaining to students the importance of citing sources but also incorporating assignments that allow students to practice citing sources correctly. The ASCD additionally recommends teaching students to effectively use a source to support an original idea, rather than mimicking the ideas that a source presents.
While university students experience pressures due to college expenses and expectations, it is crucial for students to maintain academic integrity. While it may seem beneficial in the moment to cheat on a multiple-choice test or copy and paste an author’s ideas into an essay, a student using their own memory and ideas to achieve their grades is more rewarding—not only to the assignment itself—but to students’ long-term education and knowledge.
Colossians 3:23 says that in “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” As Christians, our work’s purpose is to glorify God. We cannot justify our cheating because of stress, but we must choose to uphold the higher standard of integrity that we are called to devote to our work, including our academic integrity. At Biola University, let’s be examples of students who represent Christ in all we do—even in our academics.