Student Success Strategy #24: Integrity is more than not cheating

One of the core values of many educational institutions is integrity, yet our students may not know what it really means.  Most students will readily state that integrity means not cheating, but there is so much more.

What should a student do if they see another student cheating?  Peer pressure is strong, and most students will hesitate before considering whether they should report it.  What happens during those moments?

The student thinks:

10:15  Did I really see cheating, or was that just a random glance toward the general direction of someone else’s test?

10:17  If I report it, will the student hate me?  Will I be a target later in the semester?

10:20  If I don’t report it, can I forget about it?  What does it really matter to me anyway?

10:22  I need to think about the grading system.  If grading is strictly on a point system, what that student receives doesn’t affect me at all.  If it’s a grading curve, could it push my grade lower as theirs moves higher?

10:24  Considering all that, what should I do?  Time is running out on my test, and I need to focus on my own answers.  Maybe I’ll mention something after class.

10:29  Whew!  I finished the test in time and I’ll be happy to get out of the room and forget the whole thing.

10:30 I’m outta here! Where’s the nearest food?

And many students do forget the whole thing.  Not just the answers on the test, but anything else they saw, including cheating.  They may have a twinge of guilt when the tests are returned, especially if they are able to see the other student’s score, but by then they’ve convinced themselves it is too late to say anything.  If the other student got a better score, it may look like jealousy.  If they got a worse score, it may feel a bit like justice.

In either case, the professor may never know what happened.

So what is integrity?  Should students report instances of cheating or other violations of integrity?  Is their own integrity affected by this?

Student Success Strategy #24:  Integrity is more than not cheating.  Students should consider what integrity means to them.

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