Several years ago, cheating on a college exam or plagiarizing a term paper would have looked entirely different than it does today. At the very least, students would have had to sneak in some notes or perhaps copy answers from a friend or classmate. But now – especially as more classes move to online instead of in-person meetings – cheating involves little more than an internet connection and a smartphone.
For college students who are already overwhelmed due to pressures such as finances, jobs, family, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the temptation to Google their way to the correct exam answer or term paper success can be substantial. If you have fallen victim to these pressures, you're certainly not alone. In a 2019 Center for Academic Integrity poll of college students, 70 percent admitted to some cheating, and nearly a quarter admitted to “serious test cheating.”
Teachers Also Know Tech
But while students have used technology to cheat more efficiently, teachers have also taken advantage of new tools designed to catch cheaters. “It's a little bit like a proliferation in arms races: Once things come up on one side, the kind of detection and awareness on the other side has to be elevated,” says Ron Daniel, Virginia Tech’s associate provost for undergraduate education.
For instance, many colleges and universities have banned cell phones in testing centers, and teachers have been known to Google sentences or phrases that they suspect have been plagiarized. Websites like Grammarly and Turnitin.com also specialize in helping teachers identify cheaters – and some teachers have even written their own computer programs to help stop plagiarism. The company Software Secure has created a program to prevent students from opening browser windows during electronic exams. They are also creating a webcam that will monitor students during remote tests.
So what does this mean for students – especially those who have been accused of cheating? First, it's important to note that many colleges have a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism, and the penalties can be severe. At the very least, being caught cheating can result in your work being destroyed and your grade being lowered. In many cases, it can cause you to be expelled from your college or university – oftentimes permanently. Additionally, it is possible for plagiarism to result in legal action such as fines.
Accused of Plagiarism? An Attorney Can Help
If you have been accused of plagiarism or cheating by your college or university, you have the right to defend yourself and protect your academic record and your integrity. It is important to know your school's policy and your rights if you are accused. An experienced education lawyer can help you understand your case and craft a defense that is more likely to succeed.
The Lento Law Firm is here to help. Joseph D. Lento has fought for the rights of falsely accused students across the country for more than a decade. Our law firm has already adapted to the virtual realities of a post-COVID world. We can help guide you to the most beneficial outcome for your case. Call (888) 535-3686 to speak directly with experienced education lawyer Joseph D. Lento about your case.