What Has Turned Us Into Cheaters?
"The writing topic for this year's CET-6 was revealed again before the day of testing." "A student has been expelled due to misbehavior in a final examination." This kind of titles has been very popular these days, and all these have revealed a public secret: cheating on exams. This behavior, which was denounced by almost all, is spreading at a high rate, and this has puzzles not only teachers but also the whole society. Then why do students cheat on exams? In my understanding, there are mainly three reasons,(namely unscientific testing, completion for scholarship, and pressure from future job hunting).
Some students cheat on exams to protest against the improper testing format. The purpose of university education should be teaching students to use knowledge to solve problems; therefore, exams and tests should test students' ability to use certain knowledge to solve some problems. But most tests in China just test understanding instead of application, and some exams are even worse because they only test students' memory. Some students think it unnecessary to spend time and effort to prepare for such exams, so the just cheat in order to get a decent score, which in their mind, means nothing. Dr. Wang who specializes in education assessment supported this view in one paper, and he said that teachers should blame themselves because they forced students to cheat.
More students cheat on exams in order to struggle for scholarship. As universities are collecting tuition from students, they also increase the amount of scholarship. This money of course is very attractive to students, who have virtually no income. As scholarship is mostly decided by examination scores, students willing to get the money will try every means possible. In a recent survey, some good students admitted that they cheat on exams because "if most students are cheating, it is unfair when you choose not to". This probably represents a breach of traditional ethics, and is a more important reason than conscientious protest against improper tests.
The most important reason, in my mind, should be the pressure from job hunting. In the past few years the situation in the job market is deteriorating, and this forces students to prepare as early as possible. Due to its importance, students naturally want to make their reports more attractive, and one way to realize it is cheating. As a student said in a news report, students are aware of the cost of being caught, but the profit of not being caught is too much, so many of them just "go ahead". Maybe it is not unreasonable to say that it is the society that makes students cheaters.
To sum up, the desires to get a good job and a high scholarship, or simply to signal a protest in current education, have forced us students to copy in exams. It is undeniable that some suffer from weak moral principles, but it is wrong to blame them only. Only when the society and the university find the real source of the problem and deal with it can we restore the traditional criticism against cheating.