How bad is/was cheating at your college? Also, a Q for Professors.

I had my Spanish final tonight, and while we were waiting for the teacher to get there I was chatting with one of my fellow Criminal Justice majors.

He asked me to sit directly in front of him so the teacher wouldn’t see his cheat sheet.

I told him, “I’m not helping you do that,” and we kept talking about other stuff. I’m not going to snitch on someone for cheating but I’m certainly not going to help them do it.

The girl who sat next to me tonight brought her notebook with her and peeked in it when the teacher left the room/had her back turned. There were a lot of people in this class desperate to do well on the final, so I imagine these weren’t the only two, however these were the only two I saw.

Cheating is rampant at my school. I see it in nearly every class and these days nobody is even embarassed about it. Those who keep their noses clean are the weirdos.

My school has a “tough” policy on cheating: on paper, anyway. “Cheat and get thrown out of school. Help someone cheat and you’re in deep trouble, and possibly get thrown out of school.” My teacher knew people were cheating on tonight’s final, but did nothing but comment “don’t trust your friend’s paper.” Everyone knows that the cheating policy is all bark and no bite. Nobody is going to do anything about it.

So my questions are:

  1. How bad is/was cheating at your school?

  2. Professors, you’re not stupid. You know when people are cheating during a test. Do you do anything about it? If not, why?

I spent two years at Mississippi State. The cheating there was really bad in the core curriculum classes.

One year, someone got their hands on a copy of an algebra test in advance. The school figured it out and close to 200 students were given the option of retaking the test or settling for their grade without the test factored in - of course, this was the year after they took the test.

In my chemistry class there were about 200 people in a room taking a test. When I turned my paper in, the professor asked if I knew the person sitting next to me. I said no, I had no clue who the kid was. The prof said that guy had been craning his neck over to look at my paper for the entire exam and had done a very bad job of it.

The worst offenders were the frats. They always seemed to be able to “liberate” test material and distribute to their members. I knew some guys who only showed up on test days and passed yet had no clue about any of the material. It’s frustrating to study so hard and score lower than someone who cheats and obviously doesn’t care about the material.

Cellphone are a big cheat tool, too. It took a while, but a bunch of kids finally got rounded up for text-messaging each other test answers.

One of the many reasons I transferred.

I’m a prof. at a small liberal arts college, the students upon entering have to sign an honor code. This means they agree not to cheat etc…etc… or they suffer the consequences. It is very much like a contract that they sign. So If I catch a student cheating which has happened, I wait until they are not in class - there is no need to embarrass anyone - and I email or call them into my office to chat. If they vehemently continue to deny it in front of my face I send them to the Board. A group of upperclassmen who decide the fate of the student. they get a testamonial from me, and from the student. They meet and talk with the student and the decision is final. I have never sent a student to the Board without my knowing what I saw, or other circumstance that may have lead to it i.e. Plagiarism…
Oh and I always do something about it.

Is it rampant at my school? No. We are a highly selective group here and if you get in and want to stay, you can either follow the rules or get demoted to a junior college until you learn the proper way to education.

It really wasn’t that bad at my school. Sometimes people would “help” each other on homework or other assignments but I never saw anyone cheat on a test.

I didn’t think cheating was all that bad at my college, but I was generally oblivious to stuff like that. The physics majors were serious scholars, and didn’t cheat, and I really coudn’t care less in my gen ed courses. I just kept my head down, got my A, and didn’t pay much attention to what the other students were doing.

As a professor:

We gave a zero on the final exam to a cheater in Physics 101 last semester. That was a happy, happy day.

In the class I teach take reasonable measures to prevent cheating, such as making multiple version of the exam and watching them like a hawk, and I haven’t actually seen anyone cheating. Unfortunately, all that means is that the ones who are cheating are smart enough to do it without getting caught. OTOH, we would regularly catch really obvious cheaters in a similar class at a different institution where I used to teach, so I tend to think that my students are perhaps on average a bit more honest than the students at the Other Place.

And you better believe that if I catch them, I’ll nail their hides to the wall. I don’t throw around my weight as a professor (er, lecturer, actually), and I’m pretty much a softy on most issues, but cheaters really make my blood boil.

They make my blood boil too Podkayne - however, I will say I usually do not have to watch my students - upper classman that is - like a hawk. I am usually there at the exams, if not the Proctors are really good with paying attention to what they are doing.

One year, in a stats class I handed out the exam. I informed the class that the exams were identicle but the questions were put on each paper completely at random. (There is a program that does this that is very helpful in classes where you think students are cheating) - stats classes have lots of formulas, graphs etc…etc…so it is the class where the students who would try to cheat, would be more likely to cheat. I had a class last semester where we sat around a huge round table. 12 students I believe. However, that class had four tests and that was it. All essay which reduces cheating even more.

When I was at Auburn at Montgomery, I was taking a Media Law and Ethics course (a requirement for any Mass Comm. major)… We took the class in a classroom that had a broadcast studio built off of it. The studio had access from the classroom and the hall, and a big window in the wall between.

enough set-up!

We had a few ladies that would look at their note cards when the prof. left the room… Well, he left the room, snuck into the studio (which was not in use and dark at the time) and stood watching them through the big picture window. When he had enough proof, he called them out to chat with the dean…

never saw them again.

I’m a part time Prof. Here’s another way of looking at it. Speaking in broad, general terms, your instructors probably know who’s doing well with the material and who’s not–what level of understanding students have.

Assessments of grades may be based on this understanding. The collection of points/grades on tests & projects might be used to justify the assessment. One doesn’t take a test merely to get a grade. One takes a test to confirm one’s level of understanding.

Effective testing relies not on recall of the material, but on the use of the course material to arrive at an answer. If a student who uses a cheat sheet does well on a test, IMHO the instructor designed a poor test.

This is material specific in some cases. Otherwise, I agree with this statement.

Ok, I am a senior and believe it or not I have transferred from a huge (too big) state university to small college (it is a better school, enviroment, nicer people, and it has the concentration in my major that i want…the university doesn’t). I have a 3.65 and am a published writer…the college is happy to have me. At the university, yeah you could cheat and it was hard to kick someone out. Many felt it would be bad to ruin someone’s life. (Hey, you made your bed, you lie in it!)

There was a pretty good difference in how students were treated. They were softer on the outstanding students. But we work our hides off, are active on campus, and we are honest. One of my teachers sat me right beside my best friend for exams. She knew we would not cheat.

I applaude the professors on this board who deal harshly with cheaters. It is really a bad feeling when you are working your ass off in a class and then you see someone who is cheating and getting a higher grade than you.

Up until the past couple weeks, I’ve never seen an instance of cheating in any of classes. However, it’d be very foolish of me to say that it doesn’t happen; I’m the kind of student who just covers his own work and keeps his head down during the exams. I’m usually pretty oblivious to anything going on, but I’ve heard stories from others that makes me say that, certainly, cheating goes on here. In the past couple weeks, I’ve seen two instances of cheating. One was my roommate and his creative interpretation of the instructions of his take-home exam; the other was a guy trying to the answers for an easy 5 point pop quiz.

One of my statistics professors was very concerned about cheating and very strict on the rules. I feared her during test time. We all got marched into the auditorium one by one through just one entrance and personally seated by her. Nothing on the desks put pencil and calculator. No ballcaps allowed. She had about five TA’s and proctor’s helping keep an eye on us during the exam as well as having someone at the front videotaping us. Our ID’s were scrutinized on turning in the exams. Like a prison, that room was during her exams.

My more lengthy post apparently didn’t make it past the hamster gauntlet. In brief, I said that sometimes I allow students to bring in as many notes as they can cram on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, with the focus of the exam being how well they can integrate their notes with the essays I ask them to write.

When I give multiple choice or short answer exams, I use multiple forms. I might (a) put questions in a different order; and/or (b) vary the questions in ways that are hard to detect when glancing at someone else’s paper (e.g., ask for the names of Ms. vs. Mr. Simpson’s parents).

I haven’t noticed anyone cheating, but all of my professors have caught someone (in their other classes) and made sure to tell us how stupid the cheaters were, since they were usually doing something stupid. Like the two guys who tried to help each other, only each one had a different test form.

I graduated from the University of Texas in the 1980. During 5½ years there, I only encountered two instances of cheating.

One was a in a self-paced Physical Anthropolgy course. There was a test center where people came to take tests on each chapter of the textbook. People also sat in the center reading the textbook in preparation for their next chapter test. As if it wasn’t an easy enough ‘A’ grade, a couple of folks had the idea to sit near each other with one taking an exam while the other “studied” the textbook for their next exam. The “studying” student would look up the exam-taking student’s questions in the textbook. Another student overheard them and busted 'em to the proctor.

The other instance was when a roommate of mine paid another student to write a paper for him. IIRC, it was for a History class. The professor smelled something, and called him on it (literally, on the telephone). He managed to talk his way out of a bust, but he did set off an alarm.

Programmable calculators appeared during the semester that I took statistics. While I don’t recall any incidents, the proctors did take to examining our calculators before exams.

We did have the Honor Code at UT, and most people that I knew took it seriously.

Getting together to work a set of physics or math assignment problems was not considered cheating. You would not be invited a second time if you were perceived to be just riding coattails. It was a known fact that the fraternities maintained collections of prior exams, and that was not considered cheating, either.

I’ve also attended some other institutions (U. of Houston, U. of St. Thomas, Houston Community College and North Harris College) and I don’t recall witnessing or encountering tales of cheating at any of them.

My father was a Dean at Rice University, and they took the Honor Code very seriously there. I can remember him having it apparently weigh heavily upon him when he had to recommend expulsion (which was the only penalty - either innocent or bye-bye). He popped a few grad students in addition to undergrads.

Now, high school was a different matter.

Where I normally go to Uni, in Australia, I have personally never witnessed an instance of cheating. Several professors regularly publish half-yearly statistics about the number of cheaters and disciplinary action taken. The policy has teeth and it’s efficient. I liked it.

I’m currently on exchange in Hong Kong and cheating is institutionalised to an extent that its not funny. Cheating is socially acceptable and recognised. I actually had a tutor send a classwide email saying “I know most of you copy oyur homework and I usually dont care but I really want you to do this one as you can learn something from it”. They publish everyone’s results on the course website (another rather stupid policy IMHO) and the worst case was a student who managed to get 96/100 in weekly homeworks yet got 3.6/50 in a mid-term exam. It just boggles the mind really.

Cheating was almost unheard of at my university.

At law school, all our exams were open-book. You’d lug in a load of files, texts and notes for each exam. No point cheating there. There was some collusion in the production of exam notes, but that’s perfectly allowable.

At business school, exams were closed-book. Perhaps some cheating went on, but (i) everyone was separated by at least 1.5 metres of space; (ii) invigilators would patrol the exam hall looking for students cheating; and (iii) what you could bring into the exam hall was strictly controlled.

Exams aside, some people cheated on their assignments. Plagiarism and collusion were rare, but people were still caught out. This was less of a issue in the latter years of law school–most people become so competitive and jealous that the friendly atmosphere of camaderie required for students to effectively cheated disappeared!

I went to undergrad in the late '70s- early '80s, so we didn’t have the fancy gadgets that you young whippersnappers have today. I do recall that in my statistics class, we were allowed to use a calulator- then my prof caught someone with notes in the pocket of the calculator holder. She was thrown out of the course and failed, and after that the prof passed out calulators instead of allowing us to use our own.

 In law school, if someone got caught cheating, the profs tended to deal with them in different ways.  There was an "honor court" made up of 6 third-year students.  Honor court was an elected position.  Somone who was suspected of cheating had their case sent to the honor court, who in turn made a recommendation to the prof of how to deal with it.  The prof could take the rec or not, so I don't know how useful the honor court was.  

 I was on the honor court my 3d year, and we only had 2 cases of suspected cheating.  One was pretty clear- it involved a student who took materials into a test that was not an "open book" test.  Some profs allowed us to bring in anything we wanted to, others limited what we could bring in, others didn't allow anything except a pen.  The guy who cheated on the test in question took his notes into the test (he took a makeup exam, so wasn't in with the rest of the class).  At the top of the exam, it said, in caps, that it was not an open-book exam and that no outside materials at all were allowed.  When the honor court met and talked to the student, he admitted using his class notes (the prof causght him red-handed) but said he thought it was an open book exam and didn't see the warning at the top of the exam.  We called bullshit and recommended that he fail the class and that the cheating incident be placed in his transcript.  The prof let him retake the exam!  We were highly pissed.  We thought it was pretty freakin' clear that he cheated, and couldn't believe the prof let him get away with it.

I haven’t detected any cheating on tests at the college I attend. Most of us just put our head down and get the test over with. In my math classes it was common for us to work together on homework assignments. We all learned from each other and helped over some tough spots. The same with my C++ class. A friend and I would alwayse compare code and help each other. But come test time you are on your own.

In high school I would cheat at the drop of a hat. I plagarized from the internet, sold papers, sold book reports, would let kids copy my tests, and copied other kid’s tests. The difference is imho I went to high school to pass and college to learn. I know that if I cheat in college the person that I’m hurting is me. Sure I might graduate with a decent GPA but it does me no good if I am ignorant in my chosen profession.

We had a first-year engineering sequence known as Engineering Analysis. Usually, we had one homework due every week. The first two classes were managable, but the third term, the homework was far beyond difficult. I guess it wasn’t the whole homework, but just the last programming question (one on each). My guess is that for every 25 students, one person wrote the program. Otherwise, it was just passed around via email. Frequently, we would be up till the wee hours of the morning trying to track down a copy. Instant message conversations often went something like this…

“I’ve got one possiblity in Bobb hall, and Luke has got a partial version that might work in a pinch.”

“OK, I’ve got three people working on it and they’ll let me know if they get anything…”

Once a copy was obtained, one just had to change variable names and change the formatting a bit.

We figured the profs all knew about the rampant copying, but guessed it was maybe a way to force engineering students to socialize. :slight_smile:

So bad that I now incorporate into every syllabus for every course the fact that every single quarter, without exception, I fail a minimum of one student for plagiarizing. Note that that’s a minimum; most quarters, it’s quite a bit higher than that.

And that’s at a UC and Cal State, for what it’s worth.