Understanding Collaborative Cheating and the Disciplinary Process

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

Student cheating at colleges and universities often is done collectively. At Harvard in 2012, there were 125 students involved in a collaborative effort to cheat on a final exam. There were over 600 allegations of cheating at the University of Georgia in 2014. There were 64 students suspended at Dartmouth College in 2015 for cheating. International Center for Academic Integrity data suggests roughly 68% of undergraduate and 43% of graduate students have cheated. Schools have student disciplinary processes to investigate allegations of cheating and will impose sanctions upon violators.

Collaboration in Education

Our educational institutions often have students work on group activities and projects. Students benefit by learning from one another, strengthening interpersonal skills and gaining experience working as a team. While the majority of collaborative activity is positive, sometimes students work together to cheat.

Components of Academic Dishonesty

A Journal of Legal Studies report addressed the concept of academic dishonesty, which they equate to a form of fraud. They explained there are several elements involved. First, students must have a strong desire to obtain good grades. Students also must recognize that an opportunity to cheat exists. Lastly, students create reasons to justify or rationalize dishonest academic actions.

Examples of Collaborative Cheating

  • Using earphones, such as via Bluetooth, to receive information
  • Creating a Facebook sharing group specifically for classwork
  • Using a smartphone to take pictures of an exam to share
  • Sending text messages during an exam
  • Allowing others to copy homework assignments
  • Having another student take an exam

Student Disciplinary Actions

The university student disciplinary process typically involves a review board or disciplinary panel that evaluates evidence and makes a ruling. A hearing is held where the student meets these administrators. These meetings do not have the majority of formalities found in a legal criminal or civil case. Common sanctions or penalties include fines, suspension, and expulsion.

What Rights Do Students Have in These Actions?

Although procedures differ from school-to-school, there are several basic rights that students facing disciplinary action have. Students will receive a written summary of the alleged violations, hearing details and potential sanctions that may be imposed. The student is presumed not to have committed the violation(s) until it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence. Students found to have committed violations have the opportunity to appeal rulings.

Should I Retain an Attorney for Disciplinary Actions?

Having seasoned legal counsel may significantly benefit those accused. The attorney may function as an “adviser” to assist you during a hearing and ensure that you are fairly treated during the process. Prior to meeting with the panel or board your attorney will make sure you are adequately prepared to present any statements or answer questions.

Lawyer Defends Students Accused of Academic Misconduct

Students accused of academic dishonesty or other types of misconduct may face sanctions with long-term effects. Attorney Joseph D. Lento helps students in colleges and universities defend themselves and make sure their rights are protected. For a consultation, contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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