Overachievers are more likely to cheat on tests.

By Seriously Science | August 30, 2017 4:00 pm
Alberto G.

Image: Flickr/Alberto G.

How common is cheating on exams, and who are the cheaters? These academics suspected it was pretty common in their classes, so they decided to find out. The cheating style they investigated was the old “alter your answer and then ask for a regrade” trick. Turns out it’s pretty common (about 2% of all exams, and 17% of exams returned for a regrade), but here is the shocker: more than 60% of cheaters were getting over 80% on the exam already. So there you have it–regrade cheaters are often high achievers, and the authors conclude that “vigilance should be employed by all faculty who accept tests for regrading.”

Cheating after the test: who does it and how often?

“Self-reports suggest >50% of university students cheat at some point in their academic career, although objective values of academic misconduct (AM) are difficult to obtain. In a physiology-based department, we had a concern that students were altering written tests and resubmitting them for higher grades; thereby compromising the integrity of our primary assessment style. Therefore, we directly quantified the prevalence of AM on written tests in 11 courses across the department. Three thousand six hundred and twenty midterms were scanned, and any midterm submitted for regrading was compared with its original for evidence of AM. Student characteristics, test details, and course information were recorded. On a department level, results show that this form of AM was rare: prevalent on 2.2% of all tests written. However, of the tests submitted for regrading, 17.4% contained AM (range: 0–26%). The majority of AM was conducted by high-achieving students, (60% of offenders earned >80%), and there was a trend toward women being more likely to commit AM (P = 0.056). While our results objectively show that this type of AM is low, we highlight that large competitive courses face significantly higher prevalence, and high-achieving students may have gone underreported in previous literature. Vigilance should be employed by all faculty who accept tests for regrading.”

Related content:
Cheaters may not win, but winners tend to cheat.
The morning morality effect: why people are more likely to lie and cheat in the afternoon.
Creative thinkers are bigger liars.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Vigilance should be employed by all faculty” Faculty doesn’t give a rat’s aß. Education is not about tests, it is about tuition and fees.

    …Remove parens; one line.

  • OWilson

    So 60% of 17% of 2% had grades over 80% ? :)

    • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

      Arithmetic discriminates against the irremediably stupid. First, show your number lines. Second, (0,6)(.17)(.02) = 0.0020. Given 1000 students, that is a historically diversity-oppressive boy and girl, vicious hate language against:LGBT+.

      Youtube v=n4_CCakON1g puts the “+” back in LGBT+. Call for Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Rachelle Madcow, or Gloria Allred!

    • jhertzli

      I think that’s around 9 out of 15 … unless the authors are high-achieving cheaters and made up the numbers.


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