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August 28, 2019

St. Francis College Professor Co-Authors Book on Cheating

Dr. Steven M. Lipson, Professor of Biology & Health Promotion at St. Francis College, co-authored the book Cheating in Academia: Innovative Tactics, Insidious Ploys, and Defensive Rationale, published this past winter. Lipson and co-authors Dr. Lorraine Findlay of Nassau Community College and Dr. Laina Karthikeyan of New York City College of Technology examined why students cheat and how they do it. The goal is for the book to serve as a guide to faculty.

Lipson has taught at SFC for nearly two decades. Prior to that he served as an adjunct professor at several institutions while working as director of a hospital microbiology laboratory. His areas of expertise include virology/immunology, microbiology and marine and environmental biology.

"This exposes everything I and my colleagues have seen in more than 60 years of teaching between us," said Lipson. "We've observed how students cheat and how they trick faculty. I think it will be very helpful to individuals in academia who may not be aware of the extent or the mechanisms of cheating."

The book details how students cheat—from discreet gestures to a scheme involving M&M candies of different colors. As Lipson and his co-authors all have science backgrounds, the book primarily focuses on the sciences, but he noted, "Cheating is cheating."

Lipson said the motivation to cheat is often connected to the intense competition in the sciences and the requirements and criteria for graduate schools. That competition can drive students to do anything possible to raise their grades.

"It's a guide for faculty. We go into the mechanisms of how students think, why they cheat and their techniques to get higher grades," said Lipson, who also explores the psychology and sociology behind cheating. He said some students think it's normal and even expected to cheat.

While technology has made the mechanisms of cheating more sophisticated, Lipson said he's seen cheating for decades. He made it clear that the book isn't about SFC students, but rather a collection of experiences and insights of he and his colleagues amassed over decades at multiple institutions of higher education. The authors also examined peer-reviewed references on aspects of cheating.

"I hope professors become more vigilant and they learn to understand the techniques of cheating in their classrooms," said Lipson. "It's a matter of the faculty stopping the cheating at the base level. I wrote this book to alert the faculty of the subtleties and insidious techniques in cheating."

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