Dirty Rotten Cheaters in the News, March 2008

Dirty Rotten Cheaters in the News, March 2008

Dan Sorensen, the Vice President of Marketing for Caveon Test Security has made the presentation available for downloading that he gave at the ATP Conference in Dallas, TX, in early March 08. You can check it out yourself at this URL:


Some data he presented that I really found interesting follows:

CollegeHumor.com ran a cheating survey (asking students to be honest about their cheating).

  • 20,000 students responded (!)
  • 60.8% admitted to cheating
  • 72.9% of those dont feel bad about it
  • Average GPA of cheaters: 3.37
  • Average GPA of non-cheaters: 2.85
  • 81.3% have never been caught

Researcher Don McCabe has engaged over 24,000 students in the last six years in surveys about cheating. Those students represent 70 schools: 21 public schools, 32 private schools, and 17 parochial schools. (Over 90% of students receiving surveys provided usable responses).

McCabe concludes that cheating is widespread; that students easily rationalize cheating (everyone else does it; why do the work if you don't have to, etc.); thatstudents feel teachers ignoring cheating is part of the problem; and that students cheat for a variety of reasons. Other interesting data from McCabe follows.

Self-reported Cheating:

Public schools, exam: 76% have cheated on an exam

Public schools, plagiarism: 61% have plagiarized written materials

Private schools, exam: 49% have cheated

Private schools, plagiarism: 47% have plagiarized

Parochial schools, exam: 71% have cheated

Parochial schools, plagiarism: 64% have plagiarized


  1. In China, a hired gun test-taker is referred to as a gunman. In ot
    her words, a gunman is a person hired to take a test for someone else.

    • More and more, gunmen are double-crossing those who hire them after completing the exam, demanding more money than originally discussed. Gunmen demand more money, threatening to report the cheaters to authorities if they dont get it (the consequences of being caught cheating in China are career ending)
  2. In Spain, a fraud was revealed regarding the taking of drivers license exams. Those in on the fraud were told to make sure their cell phones were set to silent and vibrate, and to keep the phones in their pockets. During the exam, they received answers to exam questions one-by-one, with a single vibration being code to check box A, two vibrations meant B, and three vibrations was the code for checking box C Its estimated that organizers may have netted over 24 million Euro from the scam.

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Interesting and depressing figures, but I'm not surprised. Survival of the sneakiest. But really though, isn;t this an example of adaption for survival purposes?

Nice to hear from you, NR, and thanks for chiming up.

My opinion? Who we are in the dark is who we are. Cheaters cheat, non cheaters don't. It's an old tune.

The newest twist may be the general availability of huge amounts of original material now via the internet, of course: but also, the new, "open source" notion that material is readily available and somehow readily usable.

"Free" and "available" are not the same thing, of course as you know. And between us, Id expect a 6-year old to have problems with this, not college students.

Case in point: I just read an article brief in a magazine called "The Week" that described how (I'll protect the guilty here, no names) student leaders at University "X" implemented a non-cheating honor system; only they plagiarized the descriptive paragraph(s) of their code from the web site of University Y, which had plagiarized the same paragraph(s) earlier from University Z.

Huh wha huh wha??? They have got to be KIDDING me!


I heard Carrie Fishers one-woman show in Berkeley last weekend. In the first few minutes of the show she told the audience regarding the tabloid details of her celebrity life If they werent funny, theyd still be true

I love that line. (Great show btw, go see if you are lucky enough to be nearby...)



I though cheating at school exams are big deal already. But I realized those big time cheating like the examples given from those in China and Spain, and the one among universities, are really bad. Its like cheaters at school exams are less cheaters. Hmm, but they are still cheaters. :D

Well said.

For me, the side issues that I just can't suss yet are:

-- when you poll students about their cheating, you're asking them to be honest about their dishonesty. Astonishingly, they seem to do this. By far and large, or, at least the tens of thousands who reply to polls, they tend to be honest about reporting their cheating(!); and,

-- there is a common sense of entitlement amongst the cheaters: "This is how I get what I deserve, " by cheating. There is an astonishing lack of guilt about it, as if there is NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER between school activities and real life. (Don't know about you, but, I'd far prefer working with a surgeon who actually did her own homework in med school, know what I mean? Just my instinct.)

The worldwide testing industry (diverse as it is) seems to be broken down into two main camps:

1) Those who devote time convincing students not to cheat, and

2) Those who want to make it difficult for the cheaters to cheat in the first place

Very different approaches: both extremely interesting to me personally, although I think the latter camp is probably the horse to bet on in early 21st century America...



PS: Hey, I just noticed: "cheat" and "teach" are the same letters...


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