The big cheat

Number 2 Pencil is the place to go for cheating news. Among college students, cheating seems to be common.

Thirty-eight percent of undergraduate students surveyed last year said they had engaged in “cut-and-paste” plagiarism from the Internet in the previous year, according to a national study led by expert Donald McCabe of Rutgers University in New Jersey. That was up from 10 percent in a 2001 study.

Twenty-two percent of undergraduates in the 2003 study — the largest survey of its kind — acknowledged serious test cheating, such as copying from another student or using crib notes.

Cheating was most prevalent among business, education and journalism majors. Science majors were the least likely to cheat.

Kimberly also links to a story on what happened when Mississippi cheat-proofed its written driving test: The 20 percent failure rate tripled to 60 percent.

The touch-screen technology eliminates cheating because the questions on the Mississippi driver-license general knowledge test are randomly chosen from a database of more than 600 questions. This process prevents any two applicants from receiving the same test.

In the past, the state used a few paper-and-pencil exams over and over; most would-be drivers got copies of all the tests before taking the exam.

About Joanne


  1. I’m taking an online class in Texas history from a JC this summer. Two people, so far, have big fat zeros on the mid-term essay because they cut-and-pasted their answers from elsewhere. I don’t get how people can be so dumb to think that the professor isn’t going to notice that they’ve copied from the book or from a website. Professors catch that stuff. Do they think the professor never reads the textbook?

    Maybe I’m giving them too much credit. They’re probably not thinking at all. Given that four of the people in the class flunked an online, multiple choice/matching, open book exam, I probably ought to know better.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Since cut-and-past seems a reasonable method for citing other literature, are there usually standards to guide the use? I would hope that just retyping in different words is not the mark of a scholar.

  3. “Since cut-and-past seems a reasonable method for citing other literature, are there usually standards to guide the use?”–Walter E. Wallis

    The standard is to cite the cut-and-pasted portion. Otherwise, it’s plagiarism. With citation=approved (up to a certain limit). Without citation=theft/cheating.

    It’s that simple.

  4. Richard Heddleson says:

    Business, education and journalism, eh? Why am I not surprised?

  5. Bill Woods says:

    Is anyone else bothered that 60% failed the driver test? Is it a bad test, or are the roads of Mississippi littered with wrecked cars?

  6. Maybe a good, old fashioned hand-written hourly exam is the answer. Those are the type of exams that I spent the better part of my seven years of higher education taking (and I have the cramp in my hand to prove it), but I would not trade that fact for anything. Honesty in testing means honesty in the grading curve, which is all I cared about at the end of the day. Cheaters are not only hurting themselves by jeapardizing their future, but a cheater also slides with ease into a space on the bell curve that he or she did not earn, often above hardworking students that actually earned their grades.

  7. jeff wright says:

    Whatever happened to blue books?

  8. I am sure that someone, somewhere, found a reason to find the color blue, or use of the color blue instead of any other color, offensive.


  1. Cheating

    Let me tell you more about cheating. (Joanne Jacobs, the education news consolidation powerhouse, shares recently reported data on cheating by college students.) My students cheat. I’ve asked them about it, and I’ve caught them at it.