Academic pressures remain as temptations to cheat rise due to COVID-19


“Cheating” by Sclafani is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Academic integrity has met its match this year as students struggle with the newfound ease and accessibility of cheating. While cheating varies from using online resources such as Chegg to video calling friends during tests, it remains damaging to a student’s reputation and relationships. 

“I definitely think that remote learning has increased the amount of cheating,” senior Rebekah Hirschhorn said. “If students are not in the classroom, they are not in the academic mindset and the expectations can lessen.”

Repercussions to cheating still go beyond affecting a student’s records and grades. According to math teacher David Garst, cheating can be incredibly damaging to parent relationships and can cause teachers to be hesitant to write letters of recommendation. 

“I think the biggest consequence of cheating and getting away with it is believing that there was no consequence,” Garst said.

“Believe that those types of decisions about your character matter much more than performance.”

— Math teacher, David Garst

Garst also tries to create test settings that are similar to what students see during their finals and AP tests. According to Garst, it is important for students to keep in mind the resources that they will and won’t have during these important tests. Reliance on unapproved materials can also cause feelings of doubt and become a source of insecurity for students as well.

Habits of cheating could be hard to break,” junior Daphne Anderson said. “So a cycle of cheating and feeling guilty just makes the cycle worse.”

In efforts to discourage cheating, teachers have developed different practices of their students to follow. This includes having cameras on during tests and curating test questions so they are not easily found on the internet. 

“Encouraging honesty is a great idea but it is not very realistic,” Hirschorn said. “There is nothing for teachers to do, for some students going in for school was their outlet to decompress and have a place away from home.”

The motivation behind cheating varies from student to student, however often can reflect what aspect of online learning they are struggling with. For some it may be the lack of motivation during a less satisfying year and as Anderson points out, some students may struggle with persistent expectations that do not take into account the hardships of this year.

The general pressure placed on kids to succeed in school, exacerbated by the pandemic has made cheating worse,” Anderson said. “Maybe figure out why students are cheating, but that might be difficult since they know that they aren’t supposed to be caught cheating.”

Although academic integrity remains a concern for many teachers, online learning has also provided teachers with insight into their classes and students as well. Classcick allows teachers to monitor their students progress on tests in real time. The transition to online materials and systems have allowed many teachers to expand the way they teach and understand the impacts of online learning.

“I think that every teacher should evaluate what has happened this year and find its strengths and weaknesses and take that with them based on their course,” Garst said.