Discussing Cheating in the Digital Age

Yesterday, I met with a group of faculty members to discuss some recent academic dishonesty issues that have occurred on campus.  The open forum was designed to build awareness of some of the newer methods of cheating that students are employing and also to share resources and solutions.  This week, I thought I’d use the blog to offer some of the resources my colleagues and I discussed.

Understanding Plagiarism:

Indiana University has created a tremendous tool for educating faculty and students on plagiarism.  Offered through case studies with in-depth explanations, the site can help students and instructors better recognize and avoid plagiarism.  The site also offers a ten question quiz and certification process that would be great to use with students in any course that is writing intensive.  Students could complete the tutorial and the quiz and print off their certification to confirm that they understand plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Sources in Student Writing:

Turnitin is one of the leading tools for plagiarism detection.  At our institution, Turnitin is built into our course management system (CMS) to provide easy analysis for student papers submitted through the CMS’s electronic drop-box.  Besides reporting on plagiarism issues in papers, Turnitin has also been analyzing the papers to look for trends in the types of sources students are citing in their papers.  In this white paper, they identify the top paper mills, cheat sites and social networks students are using when crafting their papers.

Online Classes See Cheating Go High-Tech:

The Chronicle of Higher Education shared an article last summer that examined some of the ways that students are cheating online.  In this article, four students used Google Docs to share quiz questions from an online class.  The article offers an interesting lens into how students are “gaming the system” and cheating in online classes.

Essential Way to Prevent Cheating in Online Assessments:

Our group discussed ways to craft online quizzes and exams to decrease the likelihood of cheating.  Our solutions included decreasing the window for students to take online assessments, randomizing question order and building a comprehensive test bank with a variety of questions.  In this blog post from ProProfs, the authors share a variety of other ways to prevent cheating on online assessments.

Cheating with a Soda Bottle:

Our group also discussed how students are cheating in face-to-face classes through the use of high-tech cheat sheets.  In this video, a student demonstrates step by step how to scan a soda bottle wrapper to create a crib sheet.  While the technical aspect of the video is pretty simple, it is a little disheartening that the tutorial has been viewed almost 100,000 times.

Monitoring Online Testing:

After discussing some recent issues on campus, our group also discussed prevention methods.  A few faculty members commented that schools were adopting webcam solutions where students were monitored as they completed online exams.  In this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, efforts from Western Governors University are discussed.  While the implementation of such a system would greatly depend on the number of students taking online classes at an individual institution, the program offers a window into how some schools are using technology to prevent cheating.


2 thoughts on “Discussing Cheating in the Digital Age

  1. When I first encountered students using digital media without attribution, I chalked it up to ignorance and a cultural shift about “ownership.” But the cheating strategies you mention are neither accidental nor uninformed. Many seem deliberate — indeed an elaborate game to see who “wins”, not who LEARNS, and that is the most disheartening side of the discussion. Good that you and your colleagues are having it. Did you have any students involved?

  2. Students were not involved in this discussion. Although with the level of interest, I think we’ll be having follow-up sessions. Would be great to get a student perspective!

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