Academic dishonesty at AC:
an in-depth look at cheating

illustration by Daniar Ballester

Cheating worries faculty

by Caylee Hanna, Staff Reporter

Nearly 70 percent of college students admit to cheating on tests or assignments, according to the International Center for Academic Integrity. Some students say cheating is a good way to pass their classes, but Amarillo College faculty members disagree.

“Students who copy test answers are foolish,” Rebecca Easton, the dean of liberal arts, said. “They are paying good money for a better future, only to throw it away.”

Easton said students who cheat could hurt the college’s reputation. 

“As for cheating on purpose, I just hope that the student doesn’t give Amarillo College a bad name in the community because the student didn’t care enough to learn what we tried to teach.”

 Some faculty members say they see academic cheating as the student cheating themselves.

“The purpose of college is to learn and experience new information, but if you cheat then you have only learned how to cheat,” Elizabeth Rodriguez, a psychology instructor and program coordinator, said.

 “I mean they have paid for this education and when they cheat they are not getting their money’s worth. Students who cheat to make it through their academic career have only wasted their own time and it says a lot about their character.”

Other faculty members admit that cheating is inevitable so they don’t take cheating as a major threat. Nevertheless, they still hold students accountable for their actions.

“I try not to take it personally when I find out a student is cheating,” Stefanie Decker, the history department chair, said.

 “I know that students are stressed and overwhelmed sometimes and cheating becomes too appealing to resist. I do feel that students need to be held accountable for it, however. It’s a tough lesson to learn for some.”

Although the faculty members try their best to prevent academic cheating, some students manage to cheat anyway. 

“I did have an issue one semester when I found out that my textbook publisher’s test bank was uploaded into Quizlet,” Decker said. 

“Students were just searching Quizlet for the answer. That is cheating, in my opinion. However, it’s also on me to make sure that the test questions are not out there. That taught me to not rely solely on test banks—I had to go in and rewrite all of the test questions.”

Rodriguez said some students don’t understand what is allowed and what would be considered cheating. She pointed out that using the internet for help with class assignments is not necessarily cheating.

“I do not think that using the internet on assignments is cheating, unless the instructor has specifically said, ‘Do not use the internet.’ The internet has so much information that it would be silly not to use all the knowledge that is out there to complete an assignment to the best of your ability,” Rodriguez said. 

“When it comes to exams, using the internet is cheating. The purpose of the exam is to assess the knowledge you have gained through assignments and lecture, not to test how fast you can copy and look up answers online,”  she said.

Are you cheating?
infographic by Caylee Hanna and Madison Goodman

College only teaches one skill: cheating

By TITUS GILNER, Staff Reporter

College is a game. The only valuable skill that higher education institutions offer is cheating.

From math and science departments to humanities, educators across the United States have been fighting with cheaters since the dawn of formal education. 

The environment created by modern universities promotes academic dishonesty, while demanding academic honesty. This paradox in the current model is indicative of the real world. 

Most businesses, organizations, communities and societies at large demand things like legality and morality, while creating an environment that promotes the opposite. Though unintentional, the most useful skill that college offers is the one it works hardest to eliminate, and in doing so coincidentally imitates society in a strikingly accurate way. 

This commonality between how education and society function largely serves students. 

With that being said, this column is directed at students. I am telling you, without reservation or intimidation, do not feel bad about cheating, feel bad about getting caught. 

Right and wrong have little to do with good and bad. In both the real world and academic settings, the right thing often contradicts the good thing. 

For example, it is illegal to steal. But if a parent has a child and no way to feed the child other than stealing food, then the right thing, the moral thing for that parent to do is steal. And stealing is bad. In the academic setting this example would look more like this: A student prepares hard for a test studying notes made from PowerPoint slides and lectures. As the teacher only ever covers things in lecture and never directly from source material, the student makes the assumption that the book or any source material provided is unimportant. After hours of studying, the student goes to take the test and quickly realizes the content covered in the exam is only the content provided in source materials. The student is sitting close enough to someone with the same exam to cheat, and far away enough from the teacher to get away with it. 

In that scenario, the student should without a doubt cheat. They are completely justified in doing so. Like real life, a curve ball was thrown and the situation became the academic equivalent to life and death. Failing means a waste of money, time and energy – the three things most valuable to students.

Cheaters rule the world. Good artists copy, great artists steal as the saying goes. If school is meant to prepare students for success in the real world, then these students ought to be prepared and willing to cheat. Rules, like laws, are set up with the idea that most of the time the “right,” or legal, thing to do is also the “good,” or moral thing to do. This generally works, but like all human systems, is prone to exceptions. In order for civilized society to succeed, people must have the knowledge and courage to combat those societal loopholes. 

Did I plagiarize that first paragraph? Sure, you could do a quick copy and paste into Google and maybe you could find some lines that seem too similar to be coincidence. Or perhaps I went deeper than that, going into a book at the library the old fashioned way.  

I could have read this on an inspirational meme somewhere and saved it onto my phone just in case of time like this for all you know. 

The honest answer is, “It doesn’t matter.” Whether or not I get away with it, get a good grade, pass a class and get a degree matters. 

School is designed to give young people the knowledge and resources to overcome academic challenges, and those challenges are deemed accurate measures of success and those accurate measures of success supposedly equal preparedness for society. 

As long as school and society are set up the way they are, cheating will be a valuable skill that all young people should learn. 

Portrait of a cheater
illustration by Shawn McCrea

Technology makes cheating easier


Students may be more likely to cheat in online classes. 

“They are not being supervised and it is easy and tempting to do so,” Margie Netherton, an English professor, said. 

Technology advancements have created more options for cheating.

 “I think one way students cheat is by using Google to find answers,” Nataley Carrington, a pre-nursing student, said.

Carrington, who works in AC’s Science Tutoring Center, said she has heard about many tactics for online cheating. 

“One way to cheat on an exam is to use a Bluetooth headset to relay information to someone in another room; however, webcam technology is a defense to this tactic. A student may simply hold a cellphone up to a computer screen to take pictures of the exam,” Carrington said.

Netherton said she is concerned about academic integrity in online classes. 

“Students have not actually learned and mastered material if someone else is doing the work,” she said.

But while technology is making cheating easier, it is also making it easier to prevent and detect cheating. 

Colleges and universities now have the ability to employ webcams and biometric keystroke analysis, which can verify students’ identities and confirm achievement.

“In some cases there is a requirement to lock down the browser. A program has to be installed before taking the test, making it so that you can’t use Google,” said Kayla Witherspoon, a psychology major who works in the Math Testing Center. The detection technology can also tell when a test taker leaves the area or even the amount of time someone turns their head.

While some professors require technology to monitor cheating, other professors say that doesn’t stop cheating in certain courses. 

Netherton said cheating on writing tests is harder to monitor since the writing process takes place over a period of time.

Other professors are less concerned about defeating cheating in online classes.

 “The fact that they are getting into the material and opening the book and looking through it is fine because their real work has to show up when they present a speech to me in class,” Michelle Orcutt, an assistant professor of speech, said.

Students and faculty say the temptation to cheat should not keep AC from offering online classes. 

“I prefer online classes because I don’t have to meet at a set time. I can work at my own convenience and pace,” Witherspoon said.

Orcutt agreed, saying, “I love online classes.”

“I am actually doing my doctorate right now, research over online classes. It’s great to give students the flexibility that can’t be here in class,” she said.

Technology that defeats cheating
infographic by Caylee Hanna and Madison Goodman

Cheating integral to American culture; secret to earning a degree

By WAIEL BAGH, Staff Reporter

Being a student has been confusing and difficult at times, and what’s kept me progressing through the years is not dedication or the passion to learn. Instead, I’ve made my way through the education system by cheating whenever and however I could. 

Most of my previous years of school are all a blur to me, but one thing I do know is that without cheating, I wouldn’t be a college student.

There are so many ways and new outlets for students to cheat, that it’s really unbelievable the extent students can and will go to do so. 

The root of the cheating problem lies in our culture. There was a time when being educated was something of great reward and value. It not only enabled one to better climb the ladder of success, but was also an achievement worth going after. 

Today, being educated is foolish to most, and those who are educated prefer those who are not to remain ignorant, ultimately making the masses easier to control so fewer people notice where all the money is flowing.

The music blasting through everyone’s headphones doesn’t care about education. The popular movies and television shows lack any sense of intelligence and are primarily just pretty CGI. The media doesn’t care about education. 

Colleges are advertised to students as party odysseys rather than places of study, and the only time anyone talks about education is either regarding student loan debt or how, after graduating, you’ll finally be able to make a decent living. Nobody actually cares about learning anymore, so why should we?

Students cheat because we can see that no one really cares. Cheating is how I became a college student, and cheating is how I’ll become a college graduate. 

I don’t like admitting it, but it’s the truth. And if my generation is the one that burns the world to the ground due to the lack of education, we will at least make sure to do it in style.

Hear cheater confessions compiled by CJ Scott:

What happens when cheaters get caught–an audio report by Brianna Saucedo:

AC offers help to avoid plagiarism


It is human nature to want to take the easy way out in difficult situations and college is no different. Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. There are many problems with this both ethically and legally. A study done by Rutgers University found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework. But that’s Rutgers. 

The Writers’ Corner at AC provides a tutoring center for students who need assistance on essays for classes. “It’s not that we’re not allowed to borrow ideas and words, but we have to give credit to our sources and try to pass off their work as ours,” Josh O’Brien, Writers’ Corner supervisor, said. So not properly citing sources, could drastically decrease the quality of the paper. 

“Especially in persuasive writing where you have to argue something you want to see yourself as credible, so by using someone else’s work and not citing it lowers your credibility,” Jalin Foreman, an English education major, said. 

“This is something the college takes very seriously. The English department’s policy is if a student is found to have plagiarized, they get an automatic zero and multiple occurrences can lead to being expelled,” O’Brien said. With that being said, plagiarism is not worth the risk. Often, professors will assist students with writing papers and the Writers’ Corner is open six days a week. The college has the resources for students to avoid plagiarism, it’s just a matter of actually putting in the effort.

Tips to avoid cheating
infographic by Madison Goodman and Caylee Hanna