Why Do Chinese Students Cheat?

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“Over 2,000 Chinese students have been caught cheating during a national exam, using elaborate high-tech gear to do so. The organisers of the cheating scam sent fake candidates to take the test first and who then memorised the questions. They then broadcast the answers to candidates sitting the exam, who each paid $330.” Independednt.co.uk

on-postibLibraryI’ve been teaching in China for the last 5 years, and I see that “cheating” is a norm in every aspect of life in China from cutting in line, to selling bad quality stuff. They just play dumb when confronted with wrongdoing. Schooling is not an exception.

A lot of Chinese students choose to cheat in exams as the Chinese educational system put much more emphasis on the results and tests, rather than obtaining real knowledge. If there were less emphasis on memorising standard answers and more encouragement for learning and THINKING, there would be no cheating. You cannot cheat in an exam that requires thinking and analysis, and not just giving standard answers from the text books.

Systematic cheating is widespread In China. Many teachers encourage cheating as they want to get the reward and not to lose face in front of colleagues or authorities. As a result, there is almost no punishment for cheating.

The most important reason is that Chinese students and teachers don’t think cheating is a bad thing, they consider cheating as being very clever. Chinese students even shoot tutorials on how to cheat in exams:

Most Chinese students feel proud of cheating and getting admission to USA universities based on fake SAT, GMAT, GRE scores. There is the whole network that helps Chinese students cheat on University applications and tests in exchange for a fee. The worst part, many of those students get a scholarship. So they do believe that cheating is a rewarding thing and they are just being clever.

What can you do as a teacher? Almost nothing. Cheating is widely supported by all levels of education system in China. If you really care about the knowledge rather than “results”, try to use more inquiry projects, encourage students to ask questions and search for answers. Here is a great video of inquiry-based learning cycle. Just follow the steps:

You can find a great collection of books on Teaching English in China here.

Author: Samira Almaz, Arabic and English teacher in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. She has been practising inquiry-based learning method for the last 5 years.

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