Discovery of the Year! Cheating is bad

What happened?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to cheating, cause it is always wrong. Provost Rhodes addressed the problem in a recent email to students, faculty, and staff. It was issued in the wake of a particularly flagrant case of academic dishonesty in AUA, which led to a number of students receiving “F”s for courses, as well as dismissals from the university. The violations involved one or more students being caught while trying to hack into a professor’s Moodle account and altering grades for course assignments. Cases of using other students’ Moodle accounts and stealing their academic works were also identified. 

What is wrong with it?

The slogan of the American University of Armenia states “More than an education — a commitment.” Education is not solely about memorizing facts, detecting bullshit, knowing how to make amazing PowerPoint presentations and learning to articulate your opinions; education requires a commitment to ideas, values, and a community, as well as to discovering yourself, reevaluating your ideas and understanding who you are and who you want to be. If you succeed, you will reach the state of mind that will guide you throughout your life.

It is unfair to other students

What the cheater gets for granted is what honest students work very hard for. Moreover, if the instructor is kind enough to curve grades, the final results for other students suffer because of the cheater.

It distorts the image of the AUA

An AUA diploma is a valuable asset, but only as long as employers consider it to be a sign of excellence. That will most likely cease to be the case if AUA establishes a reputation of a community of cheaters.

It poisons the environment

Those who cheat, in the end, either do not understand the value of quality education or simply do not care about receiving it. Regardless, the problem of cheaters becomes doubly as salient when considering their negative effect on honest students; the latter lose their motivation to study hard, which leads them to view education as mere memorization of facts.

What can the community do about it?

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My personal observation shows that most cheaters are upper-grade students, which means that cheating is both cause and effect of the environment we study or work in. This means that AUA community failed to communicate why academic dishonesty is wrong. It did not manage to communicate the values that everyone is expected to follow. And most importantly, it obviously was not clear about what academic integrity should mean to each and every member of AUA community. But how can we minimize cases of dishonesty?

When preparing exams and assignments, professors should remember that education is not only about memorizing factual information or rigid solutions to problems. Very often this is what encourages cheating. Professors should also demonstrate their involvement in confronting cheaters. They should engage in a dialogue that goes beyond the standard phrases and they should refer them to university policies, when necessary.

In addition, professors should not ignore even minor cases of cheating (if there exists a context whereby any instance of cheating can be considered “minor”). Sometimes professors do not report the cases because they want to avoid bureaucratic labyrinths, probably based on a bad experience. However, when ignoring cases of cheating, professors signal that it is, in fact, a minor issue.

Campus administrators should likewise battle academic dishonesty. They have to take care of the broad impression that legal procedures are interminable and ineffective.

But most importantly, honest students should strive to create an environment which is worth their efforts. The least you can do is to express your disapproval when you see fellow students cheat. You should signal that cheating is not tolerated, otherwise, it will never end.

Do not share your Moodle, im.aua.am, or Gmail account details with anyone. When I say anyone, I mean your boyfriend/girlfriend, future/ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, friend, best friend, and even your pet. Also if people close to you respect you, then they should respect your privacy as well and they should never ask you for such “small favors.”  

Finally, please refer to the student code of ethics to familiarize yourself with the definitions of academic dishonesty and the disciplinary measures which may be imposed upon discovery of a violation of this Code. If you have any ideas on how to improve the Moodle and im.aua.am systems, please leave a comment.

Final exams are over. I suggest declaring 2018 as a year of the fight against cheating at AUA.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

Love and peace,

Arpi Janyan

 

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