In a recent article for the Washington Post, Monika Nalepa examined the culture of cheating in post-communist countries on the heels of Melania Trump’s cribbed speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The thesis of the article, which I’m not so sure I agree with, is that “cheating and plagiarism were widespread in post-communist schools [such as those in Mrs. Trump’s Slovenia] after 1989.”
Of particular interest, Nalepa cites an article posted in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Academic Ethics that compared separate surveys of college students in both the Czech Republic and the United States.
The comparison found that students in both the Czech Republic and the US had similar concepts of right and wrong.
In both countries, students were asked to evaluate a particular action on a scale of 1 (cheating) to 3 (not cheating). Copying another student’s test was rated 1.11 in both the Czech Republic and the US, while even more Czech students identified plagiarism (handing in a paper from the internet as their own) as cheating, scoring it 1.04 vs. 1.12 stateside.
Strangely, however, considerably more Czech students admitted to participating in these actions, despite identifying them as wrong.
Among Czech college students evaluated, 6.2% admitted to plagiarism, while the number was 2.3% in the US. 44.8% of Czech students copped to looking at or copying from another student’s exam, vs. 14.1% of American students.
In all, three times the number of Czech students admitted to cheating versus counterparts in the US, despite even more of them identifying these actions as wrong.
And more than six times the number of Czech students revealed that they had used a “cheat sheet” on exams compared to those in the states, 33% vs. 5%.
Do Czech students cheat more? Maybe. Or they might just be more honest about admitting to it.