The Consequences Of Cheating

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Cheating might be one of the most detrimental and common behaviours within humanity (Cavico and Mujtaba, 2009). According to Goh (2012), cheating has become one of the aspects of greater attention in higher education due to the reasons for its occurrence and its consequences. With the purpose that the reader can understand better this topic, this essay will first define moral development and cheating. With this base, the essay will research self-control of moral development and intended learning outcomes, then will concentrate on discussing the consequences of cheating. These include the academic implications of cheating, lack of professional skills, and lack of personal integrity impacting one’s professional life (Sousa, Conti, Salles, and Mussel, 2016).

Through this discussion, it will be demonstrated that the consequences of cheating impact greater aspects of an individual’s academic development, such as in the academic area and later professional life.

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Individuals develop an awareness of social institutions and interest in the functioning of society in general as they grow up. This attention offers individuals various values and different ideas of society (Damon, 1983). Moral development includes thoughts, behaviours and feelings with respect to the standards of right and wrong (Santrock, 2007).

Following Thomas and Zyl (2012), academic dishonesty definition has been a challenge for many theorists, opting to describe it as a behaviour that includes cheating, collusion, buying, impersonation and plagiarism. However, this definition is a general view of the practices of academic dishonesty, since there are more scrutinized forms. According to Guerra (2017), academic dishonesty is a construct, which depends on moral principles, therefore it is conditioned by a time, a specific society and its culture. Nowadays, the information age has allowed students a more effective way of studying. Primarily, enabling them access to journal database, textbooks, and past student’s assignments with the internet. However, according to Goh (2013), this advantage has brought the consequence of the increase in cheating activities in higher education. A study realized by Blum (2009) found that plagiarism is the cheating that is very common in higher education (cite in Beasley, 2014).

Students justify cheating behaviour appealing to ignorance and peer influence in most of the cases, along with cultural backgrounds, laziness or bad time management, the fear of failure, among others (Goh, 2012). However, self-control is a factor that can reverse the decision to misconduct. Self-control is part of an individual’s moral development, the one that integrates social and cognitive factors (Urquiza and Casullo, 2006). This means that the individual can learn to control and regulate his or she’s behaviour, anticipating the social consequences. Thus, Bandura (1991) argues that, in the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong, and serve as guides and deterrents to behaviour. They refrain from behaving in a way that violates their moral standards because such behaviour will bring self-condemnation. Self-sanctions maintain conduct in line with internal rules (Santrock, 2007). Therefore, students can feel guilty and angry for instance, after cheating in an evaluation or assessment, and to avoid these feelings they will attempt to not behave in this detrimental manner.

Along with higher education, the assignments and exams that are required are designed to measure student’s performance during and at the end of the semester. (University of Tasmania, 2018). Assessment tasks have the purpose to teachers use their expert judgement to determine whether students have met successfully the intended learning outcomes. Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) describe the required intellectual and practical skills students should demonstrate to be awarded a pass for the unit or course (University of Tasmania, 2018). For instance, some of the expected outcomes for students is to be able to analyse, evaluate, and integrate relevant information to develop a position and critical thinking (Fleming, 2019). Many teachers affirm that the biggest aim for higher education assessment is to attempt to get the student to acquire thinking processes (Jensen, Arnett, Feldman, and Cauffman, 2001)). However, if the student cheats during these assessments there are two scenarios, the first one in which the student gets caught and he or she must affront the disciplinary action, such as getting discounted grades, having to take a remediation course, class failure, academic reputation, suspension or in the worst-case expulsion (Beasley, 2014).

The mentioned disciplinary actions may prevent students to incur again on cheating behaviour. Nonetheless, if the individual isn’t caught, there’s another scenario in which the student harms the integrity of his development within higher education and harms his or her professional life. In this case, students wouldn’t rightfully complete the subject, because they will not genuinely meet the expected attributes of a graduate since they’ve been cheating along with assessments and exams. These attributes can be ethical and social understanding, analysing, critiquing and consolidating, being able to communicate written, oral and numerically, having multimedia and technical skills, opportunity to explore and develop personal attributes such as having study habits, being able to manage time, developing confidence and critical thinking and presentation skills (Fleming, 2019). In fact, the ultimate aim of higher education is a development process (University of Tasmania, 2016), because it is expected a soon to become an integral professional who is academically capable, has the ability of learning and developing knowledge and ideas.

Because this development is being interrupted, the now professionals face a lack of integrity and skills (Guerra, 2017). Furthermore, they even might incur in other misconducts related to cheating in their now workplaces. Sousa et al. (2016), investigated the correlation between the behaviour of students in an academic environment and their later behaviour at work and found that this correlation was significantly high. This means that students who have cheated in any type of way within higher education are more likely to practice in the context of their profession with the same parameters. In this different environment, the misconducts can be observed in minor aspects such as extending lunch hours more than is authorised and in greater aspects such as writing a report for a colleague, obtain unauthorised financial data from clients, present ideas of colleagues as their own, among others (Diez-Martínez, 2014). Furthermore, individuals who have cheated along higher education don’t have the necessary knowledge to complete employment tasks, thus, they will draw on stealing from another colleague (Sousa et al., 2016). Also, they might not respect teamwork or the time required to finish a work that has been demanded. This correlation of behaviour can be used to explain for instance why a doctor may emit false medical certificates for reasons that might benefit him directly. This can be a result of a student that was involved in an academic environment in which he or she frequently behaved antithetically (Guerra, 2017).

As the above discussion proves, the consequences of cheating impact greater aspects of an individual’s academic development, such as in the academic area and later professional life. Cheating inhibits the development of academic skills that are meaningfully useful for one’s professional career. Although the contexts are different, there is a pattern that tends to be reproduced in both the academic and professional environment. Mainly because students can internalize cheating behaviours as normal, approved and right ones and transfer them to their work environment and civic life. Given these points, if the cheating was reduced from early education, many individuals could develop in all stages and act morally and ethically in order to contribute positively to society.


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