Cheating Preventions

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by mattbrent, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. mbaonline

    mbaonline New Member

    My kids' high schools use At Regis some of the professors used it...I thought it was pretty useless when one finance professor had us use it, as my paper submission was mostly figures, spreadsheets and charts.

    I have caught my online students plagiarizing and flunked them-for the whole course. I did not use turnitin, just googled a phrase or sentence from the paper. One student's paper was copied from three sources almost word for word. What gave her/him away was the few sentences that s/he wrote in the opening and summary, which were nonsensical.

    Another student copied a PhD-level paper that was so esoteric that I had trouble understanding the concept- think high-level Black-Scholes quant theory. It was cut-n-pasted from somewhere, or purchased. I flunked her/him and said that if s/he wanted to explain the concept in person to me and the dean s/he was welcome to and I would change the grade from an "F". Never heard a word...

    I would use turnitin if it were free but google and common sense work just as well for me.

    Also, I require a proctored final exam. It is not required by my college but I feel better. Students must present their drivers licenses or passports.

    Bruce, your story is priceless!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2008
  2. I understand that proctored exams decrease the ability cheating but I really hate proctored exams, it takes away from the flexibility of online programs. I am not sure that proctored exams are really all that secure anyways, I took one at the local college and all they wanted was my name and what test was taking.
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Generally, I don't worry about cheating.

    First, I try to assign work that requires crafted answers that are responsive to specific issues, not broad ones (like, turning in a term paper on some course-related topic). That way, cut-and-paste solutions are less likely to hit the spot.

    Second, I look for multiple ways of measuring learning. If a student struggles with the course content, then turns in a stellar paper, I'll get suspicious and look into it.

    I also try to look for language consistencies, both internal (does the paper speak in the same voice throughout?) and external (is the language used consistent with the student's other work?).

    Fourth, a student's success at cheating is not my failure. Sure, I'd like to head it off, but a determined student who gets a cheat past me--while unfortunate--is the one failing.

    Finally, and here's the one some instructors struggle with: the "system" takes care of these people sooner or later. It might happen during the course, sometime during the degree program, or sometime later in life. But it will. But I'm not the sole protector of the university's integrity, just a cog in its wheel.

    Besides, is the university's integrity really at stake because of cheaters? We saw recently where Sam Walton's (of Wal-Mart fame) grandniece paid her roommate to take her assignments for her over the course of her BA program. Not a test, not a paper, but nearly a whole degree's worth. USC rescinded the degree, but I don't think anyone's holding up even that high profile case as evidence USC doesn't have sufficient integrity. It also goes to show that due diligence can help, but cheaters can thwart the system if they're persistent. Or rich.

    (I wonder if her Aunt Alice drove her over to USC to return the diploma?) :D
  4. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    The Walton family plans to buy USC and reinstate the degree. ;)
  5. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Maybe Uncle John Boy plans to drive her? :D
  6. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    And so it goes ...

    And I had a student crib my dissertation!

    Seriously, at least your paper likely had been "laundered" (had the title page removed). This has my NAME on it as a published document.

    Sometimes you just gotta wonder ...
  7. 1virtualprof

    1virtualprof New Member

    I don't like Turnitin because sometimes it's just not reliable. Prevention strategies I've used are:

    (1) Discussions: case studies and mini-essays on topics and issues that require application of concepts

    (2) Essays/papers etc.: mini-due dates that include thesis statement and introduction, annotated bib, outlines, draft for peer review (and that I write all over so they have to make the corrections I tell them to make), and basically just stretch out the major project or paper over several weeks.

    When I taught grad MSED courses at one of the major online universities, students had to write an "application" paper every week. I taught the same courses for two years and had several incidents of cheating. That's what happens when every student in a program takes the same courses and does the same assignments year after year after year.

    In all my current courses, I can revise and change assignments as I wish. And I do change assignments every time I teach the same course so that current students can in no way use something another student did in a previous course I've taught.

    It just takes being a little bit smarter than they are and knowing all the tricks. I've even tracked down "purchased" essays (this was in a pre-written course where I couldn't add tiered assignments for the paper -- I avoid pre-written courses like the plague).


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