cheating in online classes
Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, advocates an instructional design/community-building approach to academic integrity rather than an adversarial approach. Her stint as a police officer informs this stance. As radar gun companies introduced improved speed enforcement tools, the latest radar detectors (often produced by the same companies) rendered such improvements ineffective. “I learned that you can’t out-tech people, and you don’t want to get into that situation. You don’t want to have that arms race. Certainly some security measures are going to be necessary, but don’t get into the habit of relying on technology to establish a climate of integrity, because it can have adverse effects. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being watched all the time,” she says.
We all know that feeling. That sinking, pit of your stomach feeling when you know you have seen this paper, problem, or quiz answer before. That feeling when you know you have witnessed academic dishonesty. Your first response might be anger. You may sigh because you know you have to investigate, fill out paperwork, and confront a student. Catching and acknowledging academic dishonesty can be disappointing, enraging, time-consuming, and undeniably unpleasant. It can end a student’s academic career. What’s more, academic dishonesty can make you question your ability as an educator.
Any effort to fundamentally change a school’s approach to academic integrity requires an understanding of its current organizational response to cheating (Bertram Gallant, 2008). Organizational approaches to student cheating form a continuum from highly decentralized to highly centralized, and most schools fall somewhere on this spectrum. The more decentralized a school’s response to cheating is,
Donald McCabe’ s 2005 article “Cheating Among College And University Students: A North American Perspective” is often cited for its sobering statistics regarding the prevalence of cheating in higher education.
The numbers are alarming and do require a serious response, but have you ever turned the numbers upside down? For example, if 42 percent of college students admit to working with others on individual assignments, that means 58 percent aren’t getting help from others and those students would like you to do something about the 42 percent. If 38 percent admit to plagiarizing, that means 62 percent aren’t plagiarizing and those students expect you to do something about the 38 percent.
For some students, a writing assignment takes weeks of research, writing and revisions. For others, the ingredients are more along the lines of Google, CTRL+C and CTRL+V. And for others still, the assignment is nothing more than a transaction with an online essay mill.
When students need to write a paper, where do they go? A study released last month on plagiarism found that social and user-generated websites are the most popular resources, followed by academic and homework-related sites. Cheat sites and paper mills comprised less than 15 percent of the total resources used and showed the most significant decline over the period examined.
As an accreditation evaluator for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Scott L. Howell, PhD goes out a couple of times each year to review the testing practices and assessment characteristics of higher education institutions that are under the NWCCU’s purview.
Online education didn’t invent cheating, but it does present unique challenges. This 20-page report provides proactive ways for meeting these challenges head on.