Cheating Skyrockets as Schools Round Out the Year Online

With+college+campuses+empty%2C+professors+face+a+sharp+increase+in+cheating+as+classes+move+online.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

With college campuses empty, professors face a sharp increase in cheating as classes move online.

Katie Buelt, Staff writer

Students and teachers have been trying to navigate uncharted territory since the coronavirus forced most of the nation’s schools to switch to online learning. While creative educational solutions have abounded and new rules set in place, it seems one issue stubbornly remains– cheating. As schools continue to work out the kinks of distance learning, they have been left even more vulnerable to academic malpractice than ever. In fact, a report published by the National College Testing Association found that 70 percent of students admitted to cheating in an online school setting.

Needless to say, these findings have sent many schools, particularly large colleges, into a frenzy as they scramble to clamp down on this issue before the school year comes to a close. Some have chosen to enlist the help of artificial intelligence and live proctors to monitor students during exams. Companies such as ProctorU, which offer these and other anti-cheating services, have seen massive spikes in business in recent months. It has also become more common for teachers to restrict their students’ access to other tabs while taking a test. Meanwhile, at the high school level, where such advanced anti-cheating services aren’t as widely available, questions have been raised about cheating on the AP exams. Scandals have broken out over possible rings of cheating students who took advantage of the fact that the tests were online for the first time. However, the College Board has declined to give out the number of students who allegedly cheated, as well as the specifics of their security measures. This silence has done little to deter other students from throwing away their academic integrity.

Unfortunately, with every new technique universities use to monitor exams, students come up with dangerously creative ways to work around the restrictions. Students have been caught using imposters with fake IDs to take tests for them and using microphones to relay questions to a tutor. For obvious reasons, these new methods of cheating have panicked countless universities. As ProctorU CEO put it for Forbes, “When a degree is gained though fraud, it undermines the image and the brand of the school and it’s deeply unfair to the majority of students who work hard, study hard to have their degree undermined by those who take shortcuts and cheat.”

While online test proctoring services may seem like a positive and effective way to curb cheating, concerns have already been raised about invasion of privacy. Students nationwide have found the face recognition software to be overly invasive, and some simply don’t have the internet connection to get the system t work. Vox reported that students at Florida State University have petitioned the school to stop using online proctoring services, while the University of California Berkeley had banned their use entirely.

Ultimately, with schools moved online for the foreseeable future, it is bound to be difficult to balance issues of privacy while still maintaining academic integrity. And, while students have to do their part to completely assessments honestly, schools must also take it into their own hands to discourage such behavior. In the words of a National College Testing Association report, ““Faculty and staff should not make the egregious mistake of believing an honor code, signed statement of integrity, verbal acceptance of syllabi expectations, or other tacitly communicated acceptance is alone enough to sway academic dishonesty in online courses.”