This is inspired by another persons question regarding weather or not it is okay to tell on your peers for cheating during exams.

Since I am new to the site, I am having difficulty responding to the question, so I’m making a question instead.

Some people commented to this question and said that you are not giving a cheater an unfair advantage because students are “not competing against one another.” My question is how do you think this is true? Students are responsible for their own learning, and as a result of that, are not directly affected by another persons cheating. I beg to differ.

Other students cheating does affect other students, or we wouldn’t have to ask questions like this.

It IS an unfair advantage, in many ways, here is an example of just one:

Student A studied hard for his/her midterm. She/he arrived prepared with only 4 hours of sleep. Student B hardly studied, with plans on passing by cheating off his/her friend that was sat next to them. Student B and his/her helpful friend, let’s call him/her student C, are seated directly behind student A.

This is the way this plays out: During the exam, student B and student C begin to whisper every time the prof makes his rounds to the other side of the room. It is a big lecture hall, and the professor can not hear them on the other side of the room. But, all the other students around B and C sure can. Student A is becoming frustrated. The whispering is quite distracting to him/her, and dispite his/her delicate “shhh” every time B and C begin their routine, the whispering continues. At one point, A even turns to B and C and asks “can you please stop talking. This is an exam- you shouldn’t be talking.” B ans C continue to talk. Student A, although successful with her studies and a good student in general, has a common problem: test anxiety. Now, she has become distracted. She has a moral discontent as she does not want to “rat out” her fellow students during the exam. However, she is now struggling with her answers, as her anxiety has been activated, and she is having a hard time concentrating. As a result of this, Student A gets a much lower mark than she would have had she not been distracted during the exam. Student B gets a much higher mark due to Student C helping him/her during the test.

So, my question is this. How is this NOT an unfair advantage?

In fact, regardless of how a student may cheat (distracting or not distracting) HOW is this not an unfair advantage?

Students who study for their tests, and do not cheat, show up to the exam fully prepared. Often they are tired from the preparation, as studying for exams is 100% exhausting. Students who cheat don’t have to commit so much time or resources to exams (or anything). They can get more sleep, enjoy their out of school activities, and still pass the exam due to cheating. In some cases, the cheater may even score higher than someone who actually studied. How is that fair? Also, considering GPA and the advantages of having a high one for scholarship application, and job competition down the road, I fail to see how cheaters do not affect other students. Another point worth mentioning, is the moral dilemma that the cheating student places on their peers. To tell or not to tell?

If anyone has any other points regarding this, please feel free to share... and if you are a cheater- you should seriously consider applying yourself in a way that reflects your true intelligence. Why put yourself at risk?

In answer to the original posting, and just to be clear, I do not think there is anything wrong with reporting your peers for cheating. Especially when it affects your own grade that you studied hard for.

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    Welcome to AC.SE. Please take a look at our help center. Your two scenarios are very different. Distracting behavior during an exam, whether it is cheating or not, has a definite affect on other students. You may want to ask them as separate questions. – StrongBad Feb 23 '18 at 20:09
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    Agree with @StrongBad, conflating cheating with distracting behavior only muddies the water around your actual question about the competitive advantage afforded by cheating. There's plenty of ways to cheat without anyone else ever knowing, and classmates can be distracting without being cheaters. – Nuclear Wang Feb 23 '18 at 20:26

I know of a case in the 80's where a workstudy was assigned to run off physics exams. She was keeping copies for herself and selling them to students in the class. On the day of the final exam, a student went up to the professor and handed him a copy of his final. "Where did you get this?" The student explained that copies of all his exams had been readily available for $50 all semester.

So the prof made up a new exam on the spot, wrote it on the blackboard and announced to the class that because of this cheating, the final exam would now be 80% (rather than 30%) of the grade for the course.

A certain student named Mike, who had not cheated all semester and was doing well in the class ended up kind of bombing the final. If the final had counted only 30% of the grade, he'd have been fine. But he ended up with a C because of the new weighting. Mike had a "Regent's Scholarship" at this school, which was worth thousands of dollars (tuition, fees, dorm, meals all paid) and which was re-newable every year. Because of this C, Mike lost his Regent's Scholarship. The young lady selling exams for $50 a piece cost Mike $1000's of dollars plus a nasty hit of a C in physics for an engineering major.

This is a stark example of cheating affecting others. But in general, when there is a "culture" of cheating, then this undermines academic standards. In most cases, some student cheats, passes Calc I and then goes on to Calc II. It seems like a victimless crime, but now the Calc II prof has a class that's just a bit less prepared for Calc II than it should have been. It drags down the class a bit and everyone in the room ends up being just a bit less prepared for Calc III.

As to your question about whether you should rat out the cheaters: Yes and no. Yes, tell the prof that there is an unreasonable amount of blatant cheating going on and that you don't think you're being treated fairly when you study so hard and they bypass learning. But naming names is another issue. If you say, "Jimmy copies off Jenny on every test", there's nothing the prof can do, because he didn't see it. You've alerted him to the problem and hopefully he'll keep a sharper eye out or make multiple versions of the exams or something else to squelch the cheating.

(The workstudy was, of course, found out and expelled. IMO, she should have been prosecuted for fraud.)

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  • Wow that's bad. Because of the sudden re-weight, Mike should have been allowed to apply for "Credit" instead of a letter grade. – Joshua Mar 19 '19 at 15:57
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    @Joshua I knew Mike from childhood. He was a straight-laced, holy-roller type and my brother's roommate. He would have slit his own wrists rather than cheat. But in this situation, he did well on the midterms and then bombed the final. He looked like one of the cheaters. So there was no mercy shown. – B. Goddard Mar 19 '19 at 16:07

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