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How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges


Replies to: How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges

  • TigerleTigerle Registered User Posts: 367 Member
    It is not stereotyping but stating a fact that there are cultural differences between countries as regards cheating. With student demographics changing because colleges are admitting more and more international students, colleges may have to evolve not just in their teaching, but also in their assessment methods.
    Countries in which cheating is not taken as a serious violation of academic integrity but as a matter of course include countries in which education is seen more as a credentialling system rather than a teaching system, and in which schools are not seen so much as a public service than as a public gatekeeper to opportunities. (I live in such a country).
    The problem is that cultural habits and attitudes are so deeply ingrained they persist over generations, beyond the upheaval of migration and changing countries and languages (not a great fan of Malcolm Gladwell but the chapters on the research on the persistence of cultural attitudes in Outlier are really enlightening).
    And just telling students about strict expectations is useless unless those expectations are actually policed - if an institution lets a student from country where cheating is positively sanctioned take an unproctored or even a take home exam, the student will wonder whether the institution actually cares as much as they say. If there is no way to tell who has written an application essay, the student or a parent or a tutor, a student from such a country will believe that no one will write their essays without substantial help anyway and that they will be at a disadvantage when doing so.
    As a good student, I grew up with the constant pressure of helping others cheat. It was a kind of honour code among students all by themselves, and if the teachers were outsmarted, serve them right. I have had my papers ripped away from me in high school during the actual (proctored) exam so another could copy it more easily. I finally resisted when I was asked to take an exam for another student (while the exam itself was proctored, there were no ID checks, because the grade did not count for the final GPA, simply for advancement, with the consequence that cheating wasn't considered that serious. At the time, if you were caught, you could have simply retaken the class next semester). I refused because I was afraid of the consequences of being caught (the friend was planning to drop out anyway, but did not want to drop out having failed the class). The (casual) friend was at first incredulous, then angry. They thought they deserved the "support" and that it was unfair to keep my exam taking skills for myself, just as if we had still been kids. The friendship never recovered.
    I was glad when the university soon after introduced ID checks, because it meant that the institution took thier own exams more seriously and expected the same from their students. It is a disservice to ALL students not to address cheating.
    Academic integrity and the corresponding trust in the system in the US is a very precious cultural trait I believe, something quite unique in industrialized countries. I wish that institutions would find ways to address teaching academic integrity to all their students without compromising this trust.
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