What makes it convenient to cheat?
What makes it convenient for students to cheat? The convenient way to do something is the easiest way do it at a particular time and place under the prevailing circumstances. Miethe and Meier (Cite) proposed that for crime to occur, three conditions must be present: (1) a motivated offender, (2) a vulnerable target, and (3) a facilitating social context. These same conditions can make cheating more convenient for some students. Still using the flowing water analogy, convenience theory is like water trickling down the development chart depicted in Figure 1. Convenience is the water that trickles through each of the theories in each the three conditions; seeking the easiest path through each theory. The easiest path through a theory is through the factor in that theory that makes cheating convenient. For cheating to be convenient, three facts must be present: (1) a student that is suitably motivated to cheat, (2) a vulnerable target, such as an inattentive professor, and (3) a social environment that is conducive to cheating.
Student cheaters fall into three categories: (1) those who come to an exam prepared to cheat, (2) those who come to an exam adequately prepared and not planning to cheat but who may cheat if the opportunity presents itself, and (3) those who come to an exam inadequately prepared and not planning to cheat but who may cheat if the opportunity arises. In either case, due to the social, institutional, and individual factors in students' backgrounds, they come to an exam with sociological and psychological sets that give them a predisposition to either cheat or not cheat. When the opportunity to cheat presents itself and the decision to cheat or not cheat must be made, there must be something that triggers the final decision to cheat. That trigger is the convenience of the cheating. If there is a predisposition to cheat and a convenient situation to cheat presents itself, the convenience may trigger the student to make the decision to cheat.