This fall semester was my very first semester as a master’s student in the university. Being the first semester international student, it was probably the most difficult semester for me as I had to cope up with different education system and a different lifestyle which also included a peer pressure to excel in studies. Amidst this peer pressure to excel in studies and coping up with the different environment, I fell short of realizing how important ethics matter on a professional and academic level.
I was caught cheating during my final exam of artificial Intelligence I in which I had carried previous semester’s question paper solutions. Back in my home country almost all the students have a habit of using question papers for reference and for better preparation of exams. Continuing the same culture, I ended up finding previous semester question papers online. It was an open exam and so I carried those notes to exam as well for reference and did not really think of it as an academic dishonesty. I completely understand that there are no excuses to cheating and I strongly believe that I should have been more careful, and I take responsibility for all my actions.
Doing something like this in that moment did not really made me think about the consequences of my actions as somewhere down in my head it was not something wrong that I was doing. However, after being caught by my Professor and after going through the University Honor Code I do realize that cheating is a kind of dishonesty which I am not willing to choose never ever in the future. I would like to maintain integrity in all my actions and not do something so terrible in future.
Going on Disciplinary Probation and getting a grade of zero for that final exam therefore affecting the overall GPA of that subject were two consequences of the choice which I made, but apart from this the major consequence of my action is moral bankruptcy and damage of my reputation which I am facing in front of my Professor and parents.
This incident had made me bring a positive change in my behavior. Firstly, I would be very careful and take responsibility of all my actions. Even though all the University policies were available for all the students, I did not pay attention and carelessly accessed previous semester’s question papers. An important lesson to learn cheating always results in losing self-respect, others’ trust and punishments. Being an honest person is more important and gracious in the long run of life.
As, this choice was solely mine, so it has mainly impacted me emotionally, mentally and academically but a few people around me are being also affected by this. My peers and acquaintance who came to know about this experience of mine have known the results of this action and are also determined to never do something so terrible like this. Me and my peers have decided to strive to be successful and thorough in our endeavors, without taking shortcuts.
I completely agree that cheating or any form of academic dishonesty is unacceptable, and every student is expected to comprehend and demonstrate what academic honesty consists of. The student conduct process has really helped me develop a deeper understanding of academic integrity.
I agree to the fact that before this incident the definition of academic integrity was undeveloped, surface-level concept, but with the help of Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory (VAIL) I understood that it is more complex than I could conceptualize. Moreover, writing down a reflection paper offered me the opportunity to consider this experience and shape my thinking and the acceptance of new understanding of academic integrity.
I believe if I ever come across same scenario in the future, I would really like to make a different choice than the one which I made in this case. I would uphold my sense of morals and high ethical standards as I have realized how important ethics matter on a professional and academic level. Falling for short cuts is never going to help in the long run of life.
In future, I would never try to access for previous semesters’ question papers or any other resources online which are against the University’s academic integrity policy. Moreover, I would ask my professor or the teaching assistant about any material which I am skeptical and if it could be carried to the examination hall or not.
First and the foremost thing which I did to fix any negative impact of this incident was that I went through all the University’s academic integrity policy and comply with the standard guidelines as outlined so that I am fully aware about all the things that I am not allowed to do and hence no form of dishonesty is ever repeated by me intentionally or unintentionally in the future.