Ethical issues in schools within Jefferson County

Introduction

In the recent years, cases of students cheating in schools have become rampant at very high levels. The significant increase in this vice among high school students has become a bitter pill to swallow not only in this county but also in almost all other districts, states and countries throughout the world.

This paper will discuss this issue from an ethical basis and the impact it has had over the academic standards of most institutions.

It will also discuss probable causes, solutions and lastly give recommendations on how the issue of cheating within the student community can be minimized. The paper will be chiefly based on public schools within Jefferson County.

Cheating in schools

To start with, cheating within high school students has been chosen as an ethical issue. This is due to the fact that the students fail to play their part in the learning process and instead use other sinister means to make sure that their work is complete.

It is commonplace nowadays to find students using the current sophistication in technology in making sure that their class work has been done to perfection.

As much as the relevant authority is aware that this issue is recurrent within learning institutions, exposure to technology like the use of the internet has made the trade a lot simpler for the students.

They are now able to access any material they want from the internet through websites which specialize in the trade, encyclopedias and thousands of other material. This constant use of current technology to enhance academic excellence is known as cyber-cheating (Josephson, 1998)

Considering the behavior in a more ethical perspective, there ensues a very big debatable matter on the major roles that should be played by the school management and also the school’s staff in making sure that they get their student community prepared with the required information and skills to be better members of the communal workforce. This means that the approaches that have been erstwhile insisted to be used by various schools should thus be shifted from the traditional modes for the future success of the students.

This can be through avoiding just traditionally transmitting facts to students but making sure that they get to interact with the systems through which they are learning or the material which is being fed to them (Fulton, 1997). This will instill some relevance into what the students are learning.

Basing on rebellion towards academic integrity, many students have been found to have cheated in more than enough cases. This has ranged from copying internet material which on the other hand goes without proper citations among others. The question of cheating from technology has become so simplified that the vice is getting its way into elementary schools (JCPS, 2010).

In most high schools in the Jefferson County, students get engaged in websites which sell the papers and later submit in the work to their teachers claiming that it is their own piece of work.

In a research done by the educational communications (1998), 80% of high school students who got interviewed admitted that they had at least been involved in exam cheating in order to have their grades improve.

Among those who took part in the survey, over 50% did not see much ado in the act. This shows how serious the vice has infiltrated into our schooling system (Underwood & Szabo, 2003).

Ethical impacts

In most cases, the highest numbers of students who find themselves involved in such acts do not fully understand the ethical implications of such acts. They do not know how wrong it is morally to be involved in plagiarism, intentionally or otherwise. The basic reason behind this can be due to a lack of understanding of the meaning of intellectual property.

As much as some of the students might be having some knowledge of what intellectual property is, they take the case of school assignments to be a different case all together and so not wrong to search the internet for material.

To the teachers, it is wise to consider that some of these cases are not deliberate and that the best thing is to have the students understand the best methods of attributing such material. This should apply to all teachers who are within Jefferson County.

Differences in cheating

All educators in all sectors should be able to tell the difference between deliberate and inadvertent cases of plagiarism. At the same time, they should agree that there has been a lot of difference between the traditional tangible print media and the current electronic sources in that it is a bit difficult to feel the presence of the author in the latter case.

To avoid this, teachers should involve the students much on discussions on the importance of originality in their line of thinking. They should also get the students to understand the importance of acknowledging their sources and thus not committing the errors knowingly.

On the other hand, there is a vast majority of students in this district who commit the crime knowingly by intentionally acquiring the information from various websites which specialize in this trade.

Most of the work that is submitted through such sites is of so poor quality that most students in colleges do not use them as the work at times deems not to be acceptable. Most of the responsible sites fail to be tracked down due to their supporting disclaimers.

Most of the common sites which students have been found to be visiting are those that issue notes, term papers and lastly some which edit their work at a fee. Most of the owners of the stated sites have been able to stay clear away from the authority through their ken eyes making the business one which is meant to stay for much longer than it is anticipated.

Ways to avert cheating

The best part of the issue comes in that there is a variety of ways and means in which teachers can use to averse this crooked trade. One of the ways is to go commercial. They can employ the use of specialized software which is used to detect cases and instances of cheating.

Impact new and relevant policies in the academic arena which shall be used to monitor cheats, and lastly they can devise ways and means which they can use to change from the traditional modes of cheating to more effective mode which tend to discourage cheating (McCullen, 2003)..

Use of technology

In the use of technology, people have come up with special software that is used to match whichever work is input into it against a vast amount of internet resources. If matching is detected, it is automatically highlighted and thus the culprit is easily caught.

As expected, the best checkers come at a fee which ranges according to the software’s effectiveness and at times they get so expensive such that some schools lack the financial ability to acquire such software.

For those who can afford the services, the papers are turned into the service and then using specialized algorithm that compares the strings in the submitted work and that which is in the database, the service outputs a certain score which indicates the level of originality in that work.

This has helped minimize the vice in that, after students are aware that the work will be checked, they rarely copy and paste and thus at the end of the day they submit quality work.

As much as this method seems to work in most situations, there are cases of distrust which then means that the methods get shunned by many a people requiring a call for alternative means (Underwood & Szabo, 2003). Due to the cost of the software, the government in charge of chip in and give some assistance to public schools within Jefferson County to be able to purchase the best software

Integrating policies

Other means into which the vice can be evaded is by putting up more or improving on the integrity policies that dictate content in the material submitted including usage of the internet. Such policies can be clear and consice publications on the definition of cheating and in this case plagiarism, ways and means in which this can be steered clear of and effects that will accompany culprits.

Teachers can also come up with honor codes which should be strictly adhered to (Josephson, 1998). Such codes help in determining that the students become aware that they are held responsible for any cases which arise if they are found cheating in their papers.

Some of the codes can be presented in form of a form which should be duly signed by the students together with and before their parents and/or guardians. This kind of a code is essential in instilling into the student the fact academic dishonesty is not just an ethical implication but a serious offence in the school which should be dealt with very seriously.

Schools within this district which have been able to develop such codes have been able to reduce the cases of cheating amongst their students to very low levels (Straw, 2000).

Re-evaluation of assessment methods

The last method which can be applied to avert the vice is through the re-evaluation of the traditional modes of classroom teaching and student assessment. Such methods as always giving term papers and so have the main methods which encourage cheating amongst students.

Students should be engaged into more advanced tactics which encourage reasoning, comprehending and interpreting learnt material. Effort should be geared upon what the student can contribute in solving a given problem and not merely on what the student can get from other sources.

Conclusion

It is therefore necessary to concur with the fact that cyber-cheating is a reality in our education system and people should collaborate and work together in ensuring that the vice is done away with. When students get to learn the ethical implications of the intellectual property and the wrong in it, the student community will be geared towards better work.

Schools in Jefferson County should aim at acquiring more modes of preventing plagiarism like honor codes and reverting to modernized assessment methods.

References

Fulton, K. (1997). Learning in a Digital Age: Insights into the Issues. Milken Exchange on Educational Technology. Santa Monica, California: Milken Family Foundation.

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). (2010). News. Retrieved September 23, 2010 from http://www.jefferson.k12.ky.us/News/index.html

Josephson, M. (1998). 1998 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth. Los Angeles, CA: Josephson Institute of Ethics.

McCullen, C. (2003). Tactics and Resources to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism. Multimedia Schools 10(6), 40-43.

Straw, J. (2000). Keep Your Eyes Off the Screen: Online Cheating and What We Can Do About It. Academic Exchange Quarterly 4(3), 21-25

Underwood, J. & Szabo, A. (2003). Academic offences and e-learning: individual propensities in cheating. British Journal of Educational Technology 34(4), 467-477.

Go Top