*Please note that this article is not intended to condone or encourage cheating, plagiarism, or academic dishonesty under any circumstances.*
“Cheating (aiding someone to cheat, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, fabrication, obtaining or providing an unfair advantage, falsification of documents, unauthorized access to records, and inappropriate collaboration), whether intentionally or carelessly committed, is a breach of academic integrity and honesty.” – IMSA’s 2017 Parent and Student Handbook
The first act of academic dishonesty is a Tier II-A infraction, with a potential sanction being a 1-day suspension or Tier I sanctions.
The second act of academic dishonesty is a Tier II-B infraction, with a potential sanction being a 3-day suspension and Tier I sanctions.
The third act of academic dishonesty is a Tier III infraction, with a potential sanction being a 10-day suspension or expulsion.
However, students must be caught to receive punishment. Academic dishonesty at IMSA is far more rampant than the number of cases that are actually reported by teachers and students. At a certain point, the line blurs, and students stop considering actions such as copying problem sets or programming code as academic dishonesty, merely because it has become so commonplace. There’s no doubt that students find loopholes in academic honesty, but rather than asking ourselves how to stop it, we should pinpoint why it’s happening.
On September 6th, 2017, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted: “In school, students cheat because the system values high grades more than students value learning.”
IMSA faculty are cognizant of the fact that students are not consistently honest. For example, the math department admits to knowing about a long history of sharing problem sets, take-homes, and programming code. Mr. Ordonez stated that although it is apparent when students copy without thinking, it is worth questioning whether problem sets still serve the purpose that they were originally intended to. Similarly, Mme. Miskowiec of the World Languages department said that language faculty do know when students use online translators to do their work; however, the frequency at which they accuse people of cheating is not nearly as high as the number of cases they suspect.
Not only do teachers go to great lengths to catch academic dishonesty, but they also attempt to stop it before it happens. Mrs. O’Leary-Driscoll and Dr. DeVol describe how the science department has tailored the way they administer tests (i.e. cardboard dividers during exams, the occasional night test), and they frequently use the Turnitin website to encourage students to avoid plagiarizing. According to Ms. Townsend, the English department has received several papers with cases of plagiarism, and she rarely goes a semester without having to address at least one situation involving academic dishonesty. The English department also tries to minimize dishonesty by administering reading or comprehension quizzes, because they are aware of students who solely utilize SparkNotes and Shmoop.
I surveyed 165 IMSA students–55 from each grade–to discover whether Dr. Tyson’s claim could be applied to our student body. The survey was conducted anonymously to guarantee the greatest degree of honesty possible.