Cheating in school has been a problem across the country for generations, and Hewlett High School senior Shira Shamir decided that finding the root cause of academic dishonesty would make for an interesting social science research project. Shamir surveyed 202 of her fellow students, and got some interesting answers to her questions about how some of them justify cheating, whether on a test or copying a homework assignment.
Shamir's hours of research were rewarded last week, when she was one of a handful of Five Towns high school seniors named semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search competition. Two of her classmates, Eric Brooks and Jennie Shapira, were among the 300 honorees nationwide. The other Five Towns students honored by Intel were Paul Masih Das, from Lawrence High School, and Woodmere resident Sarah Ditchek, who attends North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck.
Shamir’s project was titled “Why Do Students Continue To Cheat?: A Comparative Study of Individual vs. Contextual Factors In Neutralization of Academic Dishonesty.” “In almost all the literature that I have read, students know that cheating is wrong, so [one] wonders, when you know something is wrong, why do you still do it?” said Shamir. “And the reason that you can do it is by justifying it to yourself that I did it just this once or something like that. Beyond academic dishonesty, I think it says something about human nature and people justifying their own acts.”
Shamir, who is involved with Hewlett High's Model Congress and the school's theater program, plans to major in international relations in college.
The cost of silence
Shapira explored the subject of bullying, and whether students who were victims spoke up. She surveyed 181 students for her project, titled "The Cost of Silence: A Study Examining the Telling Behavior of Victims of Bullying" and found that younger students were more likely to report harassment thanks to recent anti-bullying programs.