Becker, Howard S.; Geer, Blanch. and Hughes, Everett C. Making The Grade: The Academic

 

Becker, Howard S.; Geer, Blanch. and Hughes, Everett C. Making The Grade: The Academic
Side of College Life. New York: Wiley, 1968.

This is most relevant to the idea of learning how to get on in the academies of this world. It is a
study of student behavior at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1959-60 and it is a follow-up
of the authors' work with medical students. As before, in Boys in White, the method of studying
the students was participant observation.

The chapter most relevant for student dishonesty is "The Pursuit of Grades," (pp. 92-107). Let
there be no doubt: cheating does occur. "The most important point about illegitimate actions is
that they are a consequence of the existence of a system of examinations, grades, and grade point
averages. If the faculty uses examinations and other assignments to evaluate the student's
abilities or progress, some students will attempt to influence the outcome of the evaluation
‘illegally,' by ‘brown-nosing,' arguing, or cheating. Illegitimate actions would be foolish if
nothing important could be gained from them. It is because they may be rewarded by a raised
grade that students engage in them." (pp. 101-102)

"Some students engage in the ultimate illegitimate act - cheating. A national survey of academic
dishonesty among college students suggests, however, that students and faculty differ with
respect to the definition of cheating. Students seldom consider that they have cheated when they
consult one another about an assignment. But faculty members, who see the teacher-student
relationship as a one-to-one relationship between themselves and each individual student (a
dyadic model of learning), sometimes feel that if the student consults anyone else he has acted
dishonestly... Some acts are on the borderline..."

Perhaps the clearest point made throughout this discussion is the one bearing on "faculty
ambiguity." Students want to be told what to do and how to do it. They want clear and
unambiguous instructions. Students believe that good grades result from their diligence and hard
work, and they are willing to be disappointed if they don't work hard. What they do not want is
to get a poor grade as a result of ambiguities on the part of faculty. When students feel they are
being given no instructions, when they feel they are being played with by faculty, they get
disappointed. That is when they are most willing to cheat.