Santa Clara University

The-Big-Q_Header_4
 

The Big Q

Back to Blog

Academic Performance Enhancement

Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

 

Frank and Bobby are freshmen at a university on the semester system. They meet at orientation and bond over their major, Economics, and their hobby of playing sports. They decide to request one another as roommates, and both enroll in the same mathematics class: calculus for business majors.
 
The two get off to a bad start academically. They are experiencing the freedom of living on their own for the first time. No parents are around to make sure they are keeping up with their homework assignments or readings. In fact, since Frank and Bobby are both in the same math class, they often take turns going to class. It starts off with the boys alternating going to class, but eventually turns into both boys often skipping.
 
One evening, midway through the semester, Frank and Bobby run into a classmate who informs them they have a midterm the next morning. They successfully get her class notes, however they soon realize they don’t have enough time to study unless they pull an all-nighter.
 
Bobby doesn’t believe he can stay up all night and still perform well on the test the next morning.  He decides that it’s in his best interest to create a cheat sheet and plug equations into his calculator. He
 
Frank is against cheating. He calls out Bobby, saying that this is unethical. Instead, he buys two Adderall pills from a student in their dorm who has ADD. He has heard that taking Adderall helps you stay awake and focus.
 
Bobby gets upset when he finds out Frank is taking Adderall to study. Bobby claims that there is no difference between taking a drug that isn’t prescribed to you to help you study and bringing in a cheat sheet. Bobby says they are both forms of cheating. Frank disagrees, claiming that at least he’s going through the process of studying for the midterm.
 
Do you believe it’s cheating to take an academic performance-enhancing drug that isn’t prescribed to you? If so, is it cheating to the same degree as blatantly bringing a cheat sheet to your midterm? Is relying on academic performance-enhancing drugs to study dangerous in long term?
 
 
Useful Resources:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo by Life Metal Health under a Creative Commons license.
 
 
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

 

Comments Comments

Lauren S. said on Dec 2, 2013
Yes I think that both are forms of cheating. An example of cheating by use of medical drugs is with athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs, or steroids. This unnaturally increases their performance, and is seen as cheating. In the world of sports, taking steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs has severe consequences. So, this case shouldn't be an exception. I would not go so far as to try and pick which forms of cheating are more or less severe. The way I see it, cheating is cheating. Using "study drugs" such as Adderall is still a form of cheaing, and can become addictive. It is very dangerous to a person who is taking it long-term without a prescription. Making a cheat sheet can also have consequences as it can shatter a person's entire academic career if that person is caught. - Like - 4 people like this.
Ivan said on Feb 18, 2014
In my opinion taking drugs before the test is not cheating. Cheating is when you copy down from something on the test, or you steal someones ideas. Apparently anyone can cheat with drugs and pass their tests, but there are some people that prefer the old school way and use notes. There are more chances of being caught, and consequences are more severe. I came from the country where cheating is not a "crime" like in other countries. This all depends on culture and how people perceive it. In Russia everyone is trying to cheat and steal, this is the way people live there, so the school is not an exception. Using drugs is not a cheating, because it can't be seen,so no one can catch you cheating. However notes can be found and then it is considered as a cheating. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Z said on Dec 13, 2013
Regardless of whether equations are plugged into a calculator or study-enhancing drugs are used, cheating is taking place. Cheating is obviously unethical, and can be defined as any action that gives one individual an unfair advantage over others. Here, if other individuals are not using equations plugged into a calculator or taking Adderall, then Frank and Bobby are both gaining an unfair advantage. Other students put in effort by studying for the test and showing up to class regularly. Since Frank and Bobby have not done the same, they do not deserve the reward of a good grade on the test. While Adderall and similar drugs may not be viewed as cheating by many, it comes down to the fact that other students have put in much more effort than these two, so it doesn't make sense that they should be able to use study-enhancing drugs as a means to "catch up" with every one else. While this is true, I believe that study-enhancing drugs are not magical pills that suddenly make you an expert on a certain subject -- they have no effect unless an individual chooses to devote time and effort to studying while under the influence of such drugs. Thus, I believe outright cheating by plugging equations into a calculator is ultimately less ethical than choosing to take study drugs. At least an individual will put in effort to study after taking Adderall or similar substances. - Like
Margaret Lee said on Dec 14, 2013
I do think they are both forms of cheating. Cheating is gaining an unfair advantage over other students. Not all students will take Adderall. They had to rely on their own ability to focus and study. I like Lauren's comparison to the sports world about drugs. I think it's accurate and should be applied to the academic world as well. Cheating is cheating, regardless of the degree. But within the area of cheating, I think having a cheat sheet is worse than taking the drug. The point of the exam is to test for understanding of the material, which the cheat sheet defeats all purpose of. I think Z's response is also spot on about drugs not being a magical cure-all. I think drugs shouldn't be used if they're not prescribed. Drugs like Adderall may be effective for short-term solutions, but repeated use may have unintended consequences. I think it may be dangerous physically as well as mentally. A person's work attitude and ethic can change when they have a dependence on drugs to get the job done. They'll constantly look for the easier way out instead of putting in their full effort from the get-go. - Like
CS said on Dec 14, 2013
Bobby is cheating, Frank is not. I believe that the imposition that adderall is an academic performance enhancing drug is wrong. Adderall will affect each individual differently and should not even be put in the same category as blatantly bringing a cheat sheet to an exam. Should students not drink coffee with caffeine? Does this drug's generalized effects give students an edge by being able to pull all-nighters? Not all students have the same study habits and utilize the same resources anyway regardless of taking "study-enhancing drugs". Having the answers to the test, copying, and using external resources during an exam are definitely forms of cheating and are ethically wrong. Although I do not believe adderall is a form of cheating, I believe that it can have adverse effects on the body and mind if taken for long periods of time. It can be a very addicting substance and I would agree with Margaret that a person'a work ethic and attitude can be altered by the prolonged use of these drugs. - Like
Justin Fitzsimmons said on Dec 14, 2013
Both students here are cheating; however, the use of cheat sheets and calculators DURING the exam is more unethical. First, taking Adderall for the purposes other than which it was designed for--to get individuals with ADD and ADHD on even par with their peers--is cheating, as it gives the student an unfair advantage that others do not have access to. As Z argues, other students have worked hard in the class. Taking Adderall is a move to mask the student's decision not to attend class. There is an argument that can be made that drinking coffee, access to tutors, or making good study notes also gives students an unfair advantage, as CS seems to argue for. However, I believe that using Adderall crosses the line as its use is illegal for those it was not prescribed to. Additionally, it has possible negative effects for the individual's health and tarnishes the purpose of education. A college education is designed to make yourself better--something that you deprive yourself of when you go outside of yourself by using Adderall. Second, though Adderall is a form of cheating, using the test sheet and calculator during the test is more unethical. Those taking steroids or Adderall still have to put in the hours and work, though they gain quicker results from the use of these drugs. Using a cheat sheet while others taking a test do not destroys the integrity of the test more so than the use of Adderall. If a student takes Adderall but studies topics that end up not being on the test, the Adderall would not have benefited them. However, if the topic is on a cheat sheet, the student would show that he knows something when he really does not. In conclusion, the use of Adderall is cheating, though the use of cheat sheets and calculators during an exam is more unethical. - Like
Thomas L said on Dec 15, 2013
I do not believe that taking an academic performance-enhancing drug that isn't prescribed to you is cheating. Performance enhancing drugs contain chemicals that help the body or mind focus. Caffeine in coffee and energy drinks is also a chemical that helps people focus, but drinking coffee is not considered cheating. However, I still do think that taking non-prescribed drugs is morally wrong. Therefore, Bobby is cheating and Frank is not. I am not completely sure, but I would assume that taking academic enhancing drugs would be dangerous over the long term. If someone becomes dependent on the drug to focus, then in my opinion, he/she has become addicted to the drug. If both students keep doing what they're doing, then they are both in trouble, one way or another. - Like
Thomas Lee said on Dec 15, 2013
I do not believe that taking an academic performance-enhancing drug that isn't prescribed to you is cheating. Performance enhancing drugs contain chemicals that help the body or mind focus. Caffeine in coffee and energy drinks is also a chemical that helps people focus, but drinking coffee is not considered cheating. However, I still do think that taking non-prescribed drugs is morally wrong. Therefore, Bobby is cheating and Frank is not. I am not completely sure, but I would assume that taking academic enhancing drugs would be dangerous over the long term. If someone becomes dependent on the drug to focus, then in my opinion, he/she has become addicted to the drug. If both students keep doing what they're doing, then they are both in trouble, one way or another. - Like
Kevin Pei said on Jan 9, 2014
In my opinion, getting pill is not a kind of cheat. There are two reasons to demonstrate my opinion. First at all, using calculator in the math test which is happened in the process of the test. In the other hand, eating drugs is happened before the test. Secondly, taking drugs before the test is a kind of action like drinking a bottle of energy drink, you cannot say that drinking a bottle of Monster before the test is cheating - Like - 4 people like this.
LG said on Jan 28, 2014
I don't think that taking a drug is cheating because when you cheat, it means that you have a bad impact on someone's life, for example, you get the top grade in class and get an award for that instead of someone who was actually doing his/her work honestly. Therefore, bringing a cheat sheet to your midterm is actually worse than taking a drug. However, Adderall is a prescription drug and by getting drugs illegally from others makes you indirectly support drug dealers whose existence damages other people's lives. Any drugs have their side effects, therefore, most of them have to be prescribed in order to avoid negative consequences. Relying on academic performance-enhancing drugs without knowing whether it is right for you to take them might cause addiction (for example, in adderall the main component amphetamine). - Like - 1 person likes this.
LG said on Jan 29, 2014
I don't think that taking a drug is cheating because when you cheat, it means that you have a bad impact on someone's life, for example, you get the top grade in class and get an award for that instead of someone who was actually doing his/her work honestly. Therefore, bringing a cheat sheet to your midterm is actually worse than taking a drug. However, Adderall is a prescription drug and by getting drugs illegally from others makes you indirectly support drug dealers whose existence damages other people's lives. Any drugs have their side effects, therefore, most of them have to be prescribed in order to avoid negative consequences. Relying on academic performance-enhancing drugs without knowing whether it is right for you to take them might cause addiction (for example, in adderall the main component amphetamine). - Like - 1 person likes this.
Martin Olaf Chudzik said on Jan 30, 2014
In my opinion, relying on anything that will enhance your performance on your test that did not require you to study normally is un-ethical. For me, taking adderall is another form of cheating, because it stimulates your brain to focus, and when not used properly could cause you harm. Personally, I know a lot of people who would take adderall before important exams when I went to school in Germany. I would feel like that would be unfair for me, because I would have to study days before, whilst they would study a couple of hours before the test and nail it. If it's not prescribed to you, to some extent it's like taking any regular illegal drug. Cheating in the physical form, like bringing a cheat sheet to the exam, is also un-ethical. Anything that will enhance your performance, and enable you to improve, which is not used by your peers, is un-ethical, it's simply not fair. Being unfair is not necessarily un-ethical, however, when you cheat and enhance your capabilities which cannot be used by others, is in fact un-ethical. Cheating is being unfair to yourself, you're showing yourself you're not capable of taking a test in a fair manner and you're simply not prepared for it. You're making un-ethical decisions, by cheating and scoring a higher grade than your peers whom work hard to achieve a good score. In my personal point of view, cheating is stupid, and it's simply..... IGNORANT. - Like
JG said on Feb 9, 2014
I do believe that it is not only unethical but dangerous and counterproductive to consume an academic performance-enhancing drug. The basic curriculum paradigm implemented by the majority of modern classes -- the teaching of a substantial amount of material over time that is reinforced and mentally instilled through assignments and studying -- is not meant to educate students solely in content, but in how to efficiently maintain a workload as well. Cheating the system by taking medication such as Adderall eliminates this crucial element of the education complex and can lead to an unhealthy dependence on such drugs in the future if one continues to lack the skills needed to focus and perform competently in the workplace. Achieving academically whilst on unprescribed medications also undermines the success of students who put a multitudinous amount of effort into honestly learning the material. "Old-fashioned" cheating similarly crosses ethical boundaries; although the effects aren't physically harmful and the method is difficult to carry on from the classroom to the workplace, being contingent on such a cheap route to achievement can only be detrimental in the long run. - Like
Dima Demishev said on Feb 11, 2014
In terms of what is cheating and what is not, I do not consider taking Adderall to be cheating. In my opinion, claiming that Frank is acting unfairly is the same as saying that people who drink Redbull are cheaters because they consume caffeine, which is a drug as well. In terms of ethics, I consider that both students are right in this situation. Bobby does not want to harm his organism with drugs and Frank does not want to take a risk of bringing a cheat sheet to the exam. However, both of them want to pass no matter what and that is the key aspect. I come from the culture where cheating in school is not considered unethical. Moreover, most people believe that cheating is one of the learning outcomes that everyone should get in school. Hence, I believe that it IS ethical to do everything it takes to pass an exam. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Chris said on Apr 2, 2014
To know if it is cheating you first have to determine the purpose of the test. If the test is to determine who has better natural study habits then the drugs would be cheating. Most tests I have taken are to determine what you know. Taking drugs has its own risks and stigma, but being considered cheating is stretching and almost disingenuous. Taking a cheat sheet into the test is cheating as it circumvents the environment designed to limit your resources. - Like
Austin Powers Advisory said on Sep 24, 2014
It is illegal to take performance enhancing drugs. You should have just gone to the class. Making cheat sheet is worse. Nevertheless, the you still have to study after you have taken the drugs. You need to do the work, the drugs only help you focus. These drugs only help you concentrate. A performance enhencing drug will improve your game. Addrall only helps your focus. If it is only a once in a life time thing, this should not become addicting. - Like
Post a Comment

Tags: academic integrity, adderall, cheating, college, college students, decisions, drugs, ethics, roommate, study drug, studying, The Big Q