Cheating on the future

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 October, 2008, 12:00am

Students who cheat at school know very well that if they are caught, their grades will suffer and they will be disqualified or even expelled. The stigma will likely haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Nevertheless, some students still risk their future in the hope of a few extra marks simply because they think they can beat the examination system by cheating.

The question is whether 'successful' cheaters win or lose.

'Examinations only test our ability in the subjects - they measure our progress in learning,' says Young Post reader Henry Arthur Poon.

If this is the case, exam scores do not reflect the abilities or progress of cheaters, making it difficult for teachers to assess students' knowledge, skills and abilities.

This makes it difficult for teachers to come up with appropriate teaching plans and to provide specific help to students. Unable to assess students' real level of progress, teachers may impose academic challenges that are too difficult, encouraging more cheating as a result.

'As long as cheaters are not caught, the satisfaction from getting high marks will make them continue to do so,' says Ernest Tse Kwok-keung, senior curriculum development officer at the Education Bureau. '[Furthermore] they might miss the whole purpose of learning and lose motivation.'

According to Professor Tse, when students become simply score-oriented, they give up on learning and their moral standards slip.

He says without the drive to learn, students will only care about marks and moral standards will become meaningless. They will not treasure honesty and will think values are not important.

Unjustified top rankings by cheaters are unfair to hard-working students who have applied themselves honestly to their studies, says Professor Tse.

He says when classmates discover what the cheaters are doing, it shatters the classroom's sense of community.

Moreover, Professor Tse says cheating is habit-forming. It becomes the solution to getting things that students have not earned, and cheaters often continue the habit when they join the workforce - with possible disastrous consequences, perhaps even imprisonment.

He adds that when cheating students grow up and pass their values onto their own children, it lowers the moral standards of society.

As Young Post reader Joanna Ho puts it: 'It's meaningless to cheat - I'd rather accept the consequence of my laziness bravely than feel guilty and unhappy afterwards.'