The 21st Century cheater: Academic dishonesty in Canada's schools

OTTAWA, July 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Spurred on by new technology cheating in Canadian high schools and post-secondary institutions is growing and evolving, to the point that students and teachers differ over what qualifies as cheating, according to the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL).

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of first-year students across Canada admitted to committing one or more serious acts of academic dishonesty on written work while in high school (including cheating on essays or assignments) and nearly 60% admitted to serious acts of cheating on tests in high school, according to a survey of 20,000 students at 11 post-secondary education institutions.

These findings are summarized in CCL's new Lessons in Learning article "Liars, fraudsters and cheats: Dealing with the growth of academic dishonesty", which provides a look at the current landscape of academic dishonesty-and offers strategies to help curtail it.

"Over the past decade internet and high-tech devices have enabled a virtual explosion of classroom cheating," says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. "As this article reveals, educators, parents and students have to work together in order to properly address what has become a serious and widespread problem."

A report from one Canadian university shows that instances of cheating and plagiarism in their institution increased by 81% between 2003 and 2006 while reported cases of internet-based plagiarism nearly tripled from 54 to 153 over the same period.

The survey of 20,000 university freshman revealed that students in Canada perceived many acts of academic dishonesty as "not cheating" or "trivial cheating," while faculty perceived these same acts as moderate or serious cheating. As well, in surveys of post-secondary institutions in the United States and Canada, 41% of faculty admitted to ignoring incidents of suspected academic dishonesty.

"Researchers argue that a failure to act in such instances can lead to higher levels of dishonesty as some students conclude that their dishonest actions will not be punished, and other students conclude they must cheat to remain competitive with students who are already doing so," the articles states.

CCL recommends a number of strategies to help deal with the rise of academic dishonesty, including online anti-plagiarism programs and academic honour codes. Such codes, which define a code of conduct for students, are most effective when they:

    
    -   develop clear, specific definitions of dishonesty and apply them
        uniformly;
    -   appeal to students' personal integrity;
    -   reduce the temptation to cheat;
    -   encourage active student participation and critical thinking; and
    -   impose reasonable but strict penalties.
    

About CCL

The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. Its mandate is to provide evidence-based information to Canadians so they can make the best decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.

SOURCE CANADIAN COUNCIL ON LEARNING

For further information: For further information: Sheena Powell, Canadian Council on Learning, 613.782.2959 ext: 6252, spowell@ccl-cca.ca, www.ccl-cca.ca

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CANADIAN COUNCIL ON LEARNING

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