The Relationship/Cheating Connection: Do Students Cheat Less When They Have a Strong Relationship with the Teacher?

Cheating is a common problem in many institutions. It’s important to solve this connection problem by focusing on the relationship between students and the teacher.

4 min read Cheating is a common problem across all levels of academic institutions. Not only does cheating, whether through plagiarism, blatant copying, or simply looking up answers during tests and quizzes, mean that teachers cannot accurately assess the student’s academic performance, it can cause serious problems with overall student learning. A student who cheats does not have the same understanding of the content provided–and in many cases, that means that students will struggle more when presented with advanced concepts in the same field.

Concerned teachers, therefore, often work hard to decrease cheating to help students and give them a more accurate assessment of what those students actually understand about the content. One key? The relationship between teachers and students. 

Students are more likely to commit acts of academic dishonesty when they have a low opinion of the teacher.

In one study, researchers learned that students are more likely to issue low evaluations of teacher performance in classes where they had committed violations of academic integrity. Students who have a high opinion of their instructors and a strong relationship with them are less likely to want to cheat. They want to impress the teacher and are more likely to care about the subject, which makes them less likely to cheat and more likely to focus on actually learning the material.

Students are better able to ask questions when they have a strong relationship with the instructor, which can reduce instances of cheating.

Often, students cheat because they do not understand the material. They may feel that trying to answer questions or handle assignments on their own will lead to failure. In high school, that may mean that they fail, dropping their GPA and causing a negative potential impact on college scholarships or even acceptance rates. In college, failure can mean lost funds and even a derailed major path. As a result, students are likely to go to extreme lengths to get the right answers to a question or to achieve success on an assignment, even if that means cheating in order to pass.

On the other hand, students who have a strong relationship with their instructors can ask the questions they have upfront. Instead of getting stuck, they can simply seek the assistance they need to figure out the problems in front of them.

Students are more likely to respond (and less likely to cheat) when a teacher is enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm could, in many cases, be a much-needed remedy for student cheating. Students are less likely to cheat, in general, when a teacher is enthusiastic about the content. Those enthusiastic teachers are, in general, more engaging, more responsive to their students, and better able to present the material in a way that will stick long after the lesson is over. They also tend to be more likely to form deeper relationships with their students or to communicate freely about the class and the content, which can improve student engagement and understanding. 

Policies that encourage communication can reduce overall student cheating.

When teachers communicate freely with their students, including setting clear expectations and providing rubrics that make it simple for students to see what they are expected to accomplish, students, in turn, have a better understanding of what is expected of them. Not only can this help establish the terms of academic honesty, which may decrease the odds that students will cheat, but it can also make students feel more comfortable asking questions about those rubrics and expectations, which can help them succeed or even excel in the classroom without needing to cheat. 

Students may feel more shame about cheating when they have a strong relationship with the instructor.

Students cheat for a variety of reasons–and they have an equally wide range of reasons why they might choose not to cheat, even when presented with the opportunity. One reason? Students might feel worse about cheating in a class where they have a strong relationship with the instructor. They may feel that it is a more personal violation of the academic integrity policy, rather than simply cheating as a means to improve their current status or standing.

If you want to reduce cheating in your classroom, enhancing communication and developing a strong relationship with your students is key. Thankfully, Pronto can make that easier than ever. With Pronto, you have a direct line of communication to your students–and they have one back to you. As a result, they can more easily share their trials, you can address their problems, and they will have a higher level of trust in you and your instruction, which can help cut down on cheating and encourage students to excel on their own merits. Contact us today for a free demonstration.

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