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Students With Attention Problems Are Likely To Cheat In Exams, Study Finds

Students With Attention Problems

Psychology News – Researchers at the Ohio State University provide new insight into the links between students with attention problems, hyperactivity, and cheating in exams. They are enthusiastic that the findings can help detect unrecognized or underdiagnosed traits of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in restless students.

A new study links hyperactivity to academic cheating in high school students with attention problems.

The researchers examined 855 adolescents from three midwestern public schools. Data was collected one-year apart, using the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2).

The participants completed assessments of inattention, hyperactivity, and depression. In a series of assessments, they were asked to rate their attention problems in class, forgetfulness, etc. They also rated their hyperactivity in answering questions around sitting and talking over other people. To evaluate cheating, students rated how much they used cheat sheets in exams, copied answers from other students, and similar questions.

The researchers also gathered peer-reports of the participants’ externalizing behavior, like disrupting class, goofing around, etc. The study also considered various factors linked to academic cheating, such as gender, ethnicity, learning disabilities, etc.

The findings, published in Psychology in the Schools, show that inattention is a predictor of greater cheating behaviors. Attention problem is not directly linked to academic cheating, but it causes hyperactivity in students. Together, both contribute to higher levels of cheating in exams.

The accepted rates of ADHD are 7–9% in students below 17 years of age. The researchers are enthusiastic that this study can help the research of ADHD look beyond these statistics and include within its fold those who have not been evaluated or met the criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD.

In fact, the results can help detect unrecognized or underdiagnosed traits of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in students. Hence, students with attention problems or hyperactivity—who have been merely dismissed as restless or troublesome—can now seek treatment for ADHD. They can make use of available evidence-based programs to develop better self-regulation and learning skills.

One of the lead authors, Eric Anderman, said, “If [the children with attention problems] had access to these programs, they could learn in class and they wouldn’t have to cheat.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Anderman, Eric & Gilman, Richard & Liu, Xingfeiyue & Ha, Seung Yon. (2022). The relations of inattention and hyperactivity to academic cheating in adolescents with executive functioning problems. Psychology in the Schools. 10.1002/pits.22644.


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