The Significance of Self-Awareness

Self awareness, cheating, and online classes. How are these things related? Well, for starters, they all work off of each other. This study on anonymity finds that self awareness is a resource for preventing cheating in online classes.


The feeling of anonymity in online classes is something we have touched base before (here and here). While we have previously discussed the advantages students feel being anonymous online, it could be one of the main reasons for online academic cheating.

So how?

Through the process of deindividuation. Deindividuation occurs when self awareness is blocked by environmental events. When people tend to lose personal identity, they tend to deviate from acceptable social norms (according to this research). So in an academic setting, one of the biggest ways to deviate from social norms, is cheating.

So again…how?

Anonymous conditions can cause people to lack awareness of who they are as individuals which facilities deindividuation. An online student may feel like another number in an online class or enrollment without any personal identity attached. Anonymity can produce diminished concern for self evaluation, aka awareness of oneself.

A quote from a study by researchers Diener and Wallbom completely backs this up. “Social norms such as academic honesty are made more salient if an individual is made to be self aware (by the use of a one way mirror)”. The quote includes a mirror because it’s the object that makes the individual self aware. By the way, it doesn’t have to be just a mirror, any self focused attention inducing stimuli helps.

Here is a great example from the same study: Diener and Wallbom (1976) reported on college students, who when asked, said that cheating was morally wrong. When given a timed IQ test and a chance to work illicitly beyond the time limit, 70% of them did so. When a mirror was introduced during testing, this rate was reduced to only 7%. They cheated less. That is a huge percentage.

So how can we get online students to become self aware?

And in turn, prevent cheating. Well, online proctoring is a good start. For example, in our software, students credential. When students credential, it gives themselves an identity, allowing them to not be anonymous. Another advantage to online proctoring? Students know they are being recorded and monitored, which makes them aware. In addition, our software (in our secret sauce) includes a mirroring effect which continually makes students self aware.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with the importance of self awareness? Do you have any specific examples, or even any personal examples?