Faculty reports students have potential to cheat and get away

Jesse Johnson , Editor-in-Chief

A greater percentage of faculty members than students said it is easy to get away with cheating at AACC.

In a Campus Current survey of 428 students and 38 faculty members in March and April, 81.6 percent of faculty and 43.9 percent of students said students can cheat without consequences.

“I think the internet makes it so easy to copy and paste that the temptation is enormous,” said Dr. Suzanne Spoor, a professor in the English department. “I think what would help would be from really early on, when they’re starting to write papers, that it is emphasized that they have to cite their sources so they understand from the beginning.”

According to the faculty survey, 71.1 percent of professors meet with students personally as a part of their process for dealing with academic dishonesty.

“In my years, I have come to find out some students don’t know that simply taking a sentence here or there and not citing it is considered cheating,” said Daryl Gonder, an art professor.
Along with the personal meeting, some faculty members turn the incident into “a teachable moment” and sometimes even empathize with the cheater.

“I realize that students are students,” communications professor Haley Draper-Bowers said. “There is no telling what is going on [in their lives]. They have families, jobs, outside things going on, outside pressures. I want to try and give them tools where that doesn’t have to be the case.”

More than 55 percent of faculty members follow the academic policy of filing official paperwork, accusing the student of academic dishonesty. But according to some faculty, that is a long, difficult process.

“I emphasize [to students] at the beginning of the semester that I do not want to go through this process,” Dr. April Copes said. “It’s painful for me to see [the students] not get the grades they want on assignments.”

Copes also said she spends time talking to her classes about the ethics of cheating in the beginning of the semester when going through the course syllabus.

Still, according to the survey, female faculty members are twice as likely as male professors to give cheaters a failing grade in a course.

And faculty members older than 50 follow the academic integrity process more so than younger professors, the survey revealed.

In addition, some faculty members who have filed the official paperwork said they believe the students did not realize the consequences until after they had been caught and written up for academic dishonesty.

“In theory, you have to go in front of the [Academic Integrity Review Committee] and defend yourself,” said Mark Farinha, a biology professor. “You could get tossed out [of school] for cheating.”

Students also might not realize how obvious their cheating is to their professors, according to some faculty members.

“If you’re stupid enough to cheat, you usually cheat stupidly,” said Business Administration professor Reb Beatty.

Some faculty members also said the act of cheating goes against the reason that students are taking college courses.

“The idea in college is that students learn by doing their own work,” said Dr. Steve Canaday, chair of the English department.
“But anytime a student is trying to take a ‘shortcut’ that involves getting a grade where the student is avoiding learning, that goes against the principles behind higher education.”