The April 7, 2014 issue of America: The National Catholic Weekly features a short article discussing the state of cheating and academic dishonesty in higher education today. Author of the article, Thomas J. Scirghi, S.J., outlines the key points in a recently published book on the topic: Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty (by James M. Lang; copyrighted by Harvard, 2013). Scirghi reports several interesting points featured by Lang, including the statistic that the rate of cheating today and over time since 1963 has remained constant. What has changed is peoples’ attitudes about cheating when they believe no one is negatively impacted by the cheating. Tax evasion, insurance fraud and scholarship attribution are provided as examples of cases where people feel cheating is not harmful.
Lang contents that faculty can countermand the incidents of cheating by modifying their courses, assessing for mastery rather than performance. He explains that mastery of material is more than passing a final exam, but involves students finding personal relevance in course material and demonstrating their understanding through assessments designed to reflect personal application of the content. Rather than preaching to students about the ethics of academic integrity, Lang contents we need to provide students with the simple message: cheating is stealing.
The internalization of content and application of what was learned to actionable behaviors are important pieces of what makes Ignatian Pedagogy and the Jesuit approach to teaching somewhat unique. If you have an interest in the topic of academic integrity, its application to Ignatian Pedagogy or what faculty can do to curb student cheating, consider submitting a proposal for the fall Focus on Teaching and Learning event (http://www.luc.edu/fotl). This is a topic that many Loyola faculty would appreciate discussing.
Thanks to Mark Bosco, S.J. for passing this article along.