“Stopping students cheating: Mission impossible?” Not if sociology has anything to say about it! A review of Paul Greatrix’s article.

Please read Paul Greatrix’s article on the issue before reading this review.


Without even looking at the article it is clear that students feel pressures from peers and family in order to achieve in any way possible as well as pressure from themselves. Society’s opinions on education is highly focused on the binary opposition of passing or failing. When you pass it is then categorised EG A,B,C ETC. These categories in themselves create other binary oppositions of good and bad based on individual’s perception and experience of what grades are good and bad. Society puts pressure on students which therefore feel like passing an assignment is fundamental to their future and with being the case they are easily going to be more likely to cheat. The article mentions how students will go to such lengths such as a “James bond style gadget” to cheat. They feel that it is that important this it should be stolen similar to that of a robber taking jewellery.

The growing pressures of education, such as not being able to leave education till you’re 18, the fact that a master’s degree now is the equivalent of a bachelor degree in the 70’s and the fact that there is now a record of students in further education means the competition for jobs and even work experience is at an all-time high. This sadly will have a link towards higher levels of cheating because of the pressures of society’s expectations given by individuals and societies lack of opportunities.

Even in other cultures such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the students are also feeling the stress. When scrolling through my snapchat I saw images and videos of students before finals, stressing and panicking as usual. But a few snapchat images I encountered even showed pictures of the students blatantly cheating. For example, one student wrote mathematical equations all over their thigh whilst wearing shorts to hide the equations when in the exam. Regardless if this was a joke or not (I couldn’t really tell) the implying nature of cheating was there,showing that the exam cheating situation is experienced in vast amounts of societies. (Unfortunately the snapchat story has vanished otherwise I would have shown a picture to demonstrate)

My opinion of trying to tackle this “mission impossible” isn’t simply changing the forms of assessment but instead reducing the stigmas and pressures that taking exams and assignments have. How this can be done remains to be seen, but if the attitudes towards assessments in education were toned down to a certain level (of which I don’t know) then students would not feel the need to cheat, but instead focus on just giving their all. The idea that assessments are “the be all and end all” is not a new concept for students, the pressures that are shown to them only encourages student to go to either focus heavily on learning the material, or cheating which in my experience is actually easy to do, should you wise to pursue that. One experience I’m sure all students have is people (potentially fellow students) who stand outside university buildings and hand out leaflets saying how they can pay £50 for a first class essay to written. Even the most dedicated students will have looked back at that and thought “a guaranteed first without the stress of others and myself, sweet!” (Disclaimer: I wouldn’t dream of cheating). Even more so, the fact that technology has advanced has only tempted students further by using their phones, wearing earphones and listening to a recording of someone saying out loud the textbook chapters, these are just a few examples.

My whole opinion on the matter is simple. If students want to cheat they will. Therefore the only way to tackle this “mission impossible”  is not to monitor and restrict student’s chances to cheat. But instead, create an environment where they believe that assignments aren’t a “be all and end all” and therefore making students feel like they don’t want to cheat as a result.

A lower the level of seriousness towards assignments may result in lower chances of a students feeling forced to do anything possible to not be on the wrong side of the binary opposition of good vs bad grade or pass vs fail. The fact that now more people than ever have a degree of some sort and are unable to find a job in their preferred industry shows that to me that education shouldn’t be everything for students, work experience for example is fundamental in contemporary society too. But still the pressures that students are given are higher today than ever when in theory,  the pressures should be going down and focused on other opportunities to gain work.

The link to the article is below