GRE Argument Essay 81
The following appeared as an editorial in the student newspaper of Groveton College.
“To combat the recently reported dramatic rise in cheating among college and university students, these institutions should adopt honor codes similar to Groveton’s, which calls for students to agree not to cheat in their academic endeavors and to notify a faculty member if they suspect that others have cheated. Groveton’s honor code replaced an old-fashioned system in which students were closely monitored by teachers and an average of thirty cases of cheating per year were reported. The honor code has proven far more successful: in the first year it was in place, students reported twenty-one cases of cheating; five years later, this figure had dropped to fourteen. Moreover, in a recent survey conducted by the Groveton honor council, a majority of students said that they would be less likely to cheat with an honor code in place than without.”
This argument is based on an editorial in the student newspaper of Groveton College. As per this editorial, the institutions should adopt honor codes similar to Groveton’s to combat the recently reported dramatic rise in cheating among college and university students. The author has pointed out the effectiveness of the honor codes system in Groveton College. However, this argument contains several critical flaws, which render it unpersuasive.
First of all, the author gives the conclusion without comparing the situation of other institutions with that of Groveton College. The author has not given enough details about the measures taken by Groveton College. There might be some other measures also, which were put into execution at the same time with the honor codes system, that must have helped to abate the cheating number of students. There is also a possibility of the exam becoming easier for the students. Hence, there is a probability of the other changes being effective instead of the honor codes system. Even if the honor codes system is effective in Groveton, it does not necessarily mean that it will have the same effect in other institutions. The author should have ruled out these possibilities before concluding the argument.
Secondly, it is wrong on our part to assume that simply by saying that the students agree not to cheat in exams, these students actually will not cheat. It is quite possible that they tell lies and they will cheat irrespective of what they have promised. Similarly, suspecting a student of cheating does not mean that he is really cheating. May be the student who is suspected by another one actually does not cheat. If that be the case, then it will be wrong to punish that student and being wrongly suspected by other student will harm the relationship between the two students.
The author has also said that that the honor code is successful by only showing that five years later the number of cheats declined to fourteen from twenty-one in the first year. However, he failed to consider that it is also possible that many students just do not want to inform their faculty when they suspect that someone is cheating. The number of cases reported does not necessarily mean the number of actual cases. It might be possible that students have reduced reporting the cases or they have lost faith in the new honor code system. Without considering and ruling out these and other possible explanations, the author’s conclusion is doubtful.
In addition, the reduction from 21 cases to 14 cases is not a great improvement to have taken place in 5 years. It might have been that proper counseling sessions had been given to the students in these five years and it might have made them reform their old ways. In that case, more emphasis should be given to providing successful counseling sessions to students rather than embracing the new honor code.
The author should have given details of a survey where students were asked the reasons why they cheat in exams. He should have collected reliable inputs from the faculty members regarding the new honor codes system and the other measures to stop cheating. That should have supported his argument in a much better way.