As cell phones have become an increasingly common fixture of everyday life, the devices have also become a tool for academic dishonesty. A significant number of Carmel High School students have admitted to this particular form of cheating using a variety of methods.
According to a survey administered to 665 CHS students, 358 of those or approximately 54 percent confessed to having previously used a device to cheat on assigned school work or a test.
Of the number who reported having cheated using a device, the most common method was using a search engine to locate an answer, followed by viewing a photo of a test or assignment answers or texting another person for an answer. Others reported different, more elaborate strategies for cheating, such as hacking the MySchool secure exam browser to allow search engine viewing.
The statistics display that seniors are significantly more likely to cheat using a device than any other grade’s students and that the likelihood of having cheated increases the higher the grade level.
On a national level, a 2009 survey by Common Sense Media concluded that 35 percent of high school students had used a cellphone during tests to cheat; however, the percentage of American teenagers who own cellphones has grown dramatically from 2009 to today. The same poll concluded that 65 percent of teens who had been surveyed confessed that they had seen or heard of students using cellphones to cheat in school.
When asked if they were surprised that the numbers of those who reported cheating were so high for their grade level, a CHS senior remarked that he was not and was actually surprised it wasn’t higher.
One CHS sophomore remembers an exam earlier in the year when he looked across to his seat partner, only to realize he had his phone in his lap with a picture of the test and its answers. He recalls feeling shocked and disappointed in his friend for blatantly cheating on an important exam.
“I think that today cheating becomes much more accessible through the use of technology and cellphones,” the sophomore says. “In my experience, it also seems to be really difficult for teachers to catch, which makes it even more enticing.”
From a different perspective, one CHS junior can relate to the feeling of ease when cheating using a cellphone.
“It’s unbelievably easy,” the junior says. “I literally just put my phone in my lap, set a picture of the answers as my screensaver and get an A. Honestly, I don’t even feel guilty afterwards because the tests are ridiculously hard, and joined with six other classes, it’s unreasonable.”
Some CHS teachers have put an aim at ending this particular form of cheating. One is Spanish teacher Olga Chandler, who individually ensures every cellphone in the classroom is in a backpack.
CHS physics teacher Steve Nixon says he specifically designs his tests to be difficult to search for an answer to a question.
“It has just become too easy,” Nixon says. “I haven’t caught many students trying to use their phones to cheat, but I just know that there are many that do. It’s really disappointing, but I understand there is such a pressure to perform well.”
A few teachers across the country have resorted to using a device called a “PocketHound,” which can detect cell phones nearby to put an end to the academic dishonesty by way of cellphone use.
Some administrators nationwide attribute the increase in cheating reports as grade levels go up to the increased pressure, as juniors and seniors are applying to competitive colleges across the nation and feel the need to better their respective grades.