I wouldn’t guess that this is a Gladwell style tipping point toward a wave of cheating, rather a crest in media attention towards cheating but these cases do bring up some similar questions. Previously the Chronicle of Higher Education offered the thoughts of someone who writes papers for pay and then this story occurred at the University of Central Florida, complete with Youtube clip!
There were a few things that caught my attention. First the bravado of the instructor came off as extreme. I empathized with his feelings of betrayal and frustration in having those students cheat but I’m not sure that the entire blame falls on them. What about this class made them decide to cheat? Would those same students have cheated on a basketball exam or quiz on Justin Bieber lyrics? If not, then why? My guess is that students feel there is a break between what they need to know and what’s on the exam. Especially interesting because educators generally feels that students’ intrinsic motivation decreases through school – sometimes attributed to set curriculum without flexibility for the students – but college is a choice the students makes. They choose their major, classes, course of study, institution, friends, social networks, involvement on campus and so on. Without looking into the literature more my chief question is why do students make the choice to to cheat when they also make the choice to be there?