Academic dishonesty is not on the rise, James M. Lang argues, despite periodic media flurries suggesting otherwise in the wake of various high-profile cheating scandals. InsideHigher Ed review’s Lang’s newest book, reporting
“Still, evidence indicates that most students cheat at least once over the course of their college careers — a fact that may be most concerning, Lang writes, because it means that many classes are failing to help students really learn.
“In his new book, Cheating Lessons: Learning From Academic Dishonesty (Harvard University Press), Lang reviews research on both academic dishonesty and human learning to build a case that the most effective instructional strategies to minimize cheating are the same ones that will best help students to understand and retain the course material. When students are able to grasp the subject matter, Lang believes, they have little motivation to cheat.
“Lang — who is associate professor of English and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Assumption College, as well as a longtime columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education — answered e-mailed questions about his new book, offering advice for both faculty members and administrators on how they can reduce cheating and, better yet, help students get the most out of their classes.
“Q: How would you summarize the relationship between student learning and academic honesty (or dishonesty)? What do you think might explain this relationship?
“A: Cheating is an inappropriate response to a learning environment that’s not working for the student. Both sides of that sentence are important. It’s inappropriate, which means that we have to hold the student accountable for the dishonest action, and ensure that we maintain high standards of academic integrity. But it’s equally true that something in that learning environment doesn’t seem to be working for that student. He might see the course as a curricular requirement that means nothing to him; he might be confused by the assignment or see it as busywork; he might see himself as not having the knowledge or skills he needs to complete the assignment. Continue reading “Why students cheat”