The Paradox of Academic Dishonesty

Oct 4th, 2013
a short essay on why academic dishonesty should not be practiced.

A misguided sense of helping can lead to the corruption of the character of the person. Academic dishonesty is committed when a person deliberately attempts to submit someone or present else’s academic work and claim it as his own (Cauffman, et. al., 2002). Observing most of the students who do it, it is normal to hear, “Let us help each other during the tests”. This means that the idea of helping is but a short-sighted judgment. Although academic dishonesty is viewed as a form of teamwork for most students, it must not be practiced and strictly prohibited.

             Every academic institution strives for academic integrity. In most situations, students who committed academic dishonesty usually get higher scores than those who do not. This behavior tramples on equity. Aside from this, it also undermines justice. Even if the student does not study, chances are he will be getting grades higher than what he actually deserves. Furthermore, as stated by Whitley and Spiegel (2002), “students who cheat, those who see others successfully cheat, those who hear others brag about how they cheated their way to college, and employers who find themselves with incompetent and honest dishonest employees cannot help but lose faith in the academia”.  If academic dishonesty is reproached and stopped, what will happen to the ideals of a school to have morally upright and principled products? What of the efforts of the institution in the formation of its students? What will happen to a school, which is a venue for learning, viewed as a place where such inappropriate acts are rampant?

            Academic dishonesty falls short on society’s needed capital on intellect and moral. The mission of every institution is to preserve and transfer knowledge so that the students will be equipped to face the world beyond the four walls of the classrooms. If students cheated their way to pass, relied on cheating to pass, will they learn something? No. They will not be able to develop the skills the school is trying to instill in them. Aside from intellectual input, academic dishonesty erodes the moral development in students. They have been accustomed to iniquitous practices; it is more likely to happen that they will also engage in corrupt practices. Just as Whitley and Spiegel (2002), referring to Baldwin, (1996), mentioned that students who cheat in college and professional schools go on to engage in unethical business practices. The moment academic dishonesty is tolerated is the very moment we bid goodbye to responsible citizenship. This is further supported by Holifeῆa (1993) who stated that there is an inevitable break down of systems in society if honesty is not upheld with reverence.  

            Academic dishonesty also affects the students and the school in a negative way. Aside from the handicapped development of skills and morals, this will make honest students discouraged or frustrated and lose motivation in learning. Or worse, they will engage in the same unethical coping mechanism to “make the battle fair”, thus, creating an exponential chain reaction. For those who are already practicing it, it will divert their attention from the essence of learning to the external merits (e.g. good grades). Whitley and Spiegel (2002) also cited from Jendrek (1989), Johnston (1996), and Spiegel, (1998) that “faculty members who learn that students have cheated in their class often feel mistreated by their students” and that academic dishonesty is indeed a stressful part of an instructor’s job. In the long run, these acts have the capacity to tarnish the name of the institution reported to have an epidemic of widespread cheating.            

            As a student, we must act with discernment. When on the crossroad of being faced by the temptation to cheat or not, we must let our minds pass through three gates, “Is this going to help in my situation now?” “In the long run, how will this affect me?” “Will this do well to me, the people around me and to the society in general?” If the answer is barred by a checkpoint, then we should stop and dismiss the idea. On the other hand, if we are the teacher, on the slightest signs of academic dishonesty, we should rebuke students. Our tolerance is an encouraging factors to the student to engage in the unethical behavior. Rebuke. Reprimand. This is like correcting the growth of a sprout while it is still young and easy to mold. However, for most students, resisting academic dishonesty is hard especially when there is peer pressure. Thoughts like, “I am afraid they will dislike me” or “I am afraid they will ostracize me” are inevitable. However, speak. Tell them that is not for the best.  Act. Show them it is not for the best. 

 We must be far-sighted in our decisions for it is only then that we can be more productive and wholly developed. Say no to academic dishonesty. What is the point of cheating anyway? To get some good grades now but miserably finding ourselves in the finish line, empty-handed in terms of knowledge? It defeats education. Just as Einstein had said, “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think”. In summary, academic dishonesty must not be practiced and strictly prohibited because it goes against academic integrity; it reduces the intellectual and moral input needed by society; and it has profound negative effects on the students and the school.


Cauffman, E. et. al. (2002). It’s wrong but everybody does it: academic dishonesty among high school and college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 27, 209-228.

Whitley, B. E. & Spiegel, P. K. (2002). Academic dishonesty: an educator’s guide. United States of America: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Holifeῆa, C. F. (1993, July 11). Board exams: culture of cheating. The Sunday Chronicle.

Charmaine Carrillo
i am a college student... and yes... ^_^
Charmaine Carrillo
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