Many students in college and university programs, especially undergraduate programs, quickly discover the online learning platform Chegg. Depending on whom you ask, professors, administrators, or students, Chegg is either the best thing since sliced bread or a threat to higher education. If you face an academic misconduct charge based on alleged use or misuse of Chegg, or if you have concerns about the use or misuse of Chegg at your college or university, then you need reliable answers to your questions. Retain national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to answer your questions. Attorney Lento and his team are also available for your aggressive and effective representation of academic misconduct charges nationwide.
What Is Chegg?
Chegg calls itself an online learning platform. But Chegg isn't a popular institutional platform like the highly-rated Absorb, Schoology, Canvas, Moodle, or Blackboard, or even Edmodo, Quizlet, or Google Classroom. Colleges and universities are not rushing to turn their learning management systems over to Chegg. Chegg instead markets directly to students. Chegg advertises that it offers students online tools and services anywhere, anytime, to speed and ease their learning. For a monthly fee that students pay Chegg, Chegg's study time, crunchtime, anytime website offers “experts by your side” with “millions of explanations at your fingertips.” And therein lies the root of the academic misconduct problem. Some students perceive Chegg's instant online answers to specific problems as an invitation to cheating.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has been helping students nationwide respond to academic misconduct allegations involving Chegg use or misuse. Attorney Lento understands how Chegg works, how students use and misuse Chegg, and how colleges and universities are responding. Attorney Lento has successfully defended hundreds of college and university students nationwide, resolving academic misconduct charges in ways that preserve the students' education and future. Don't face a Chegg charge at your school alone. Get premier academic attorney representation.
Who Owns and Runs Chegg?
Chegg's investor-relations page indicates that it is a publicly-traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CHGG. Chegg has a management team that includes a President and Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Communications Officer, Chief People Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, President of Learning Services, President of Chegg Skills, and General Counsel. Chegg's current President and CEO used to run the company Guitar Hero and serve on the management teams of Yahoo! and ZDNet. The questions of Chegg's ownership and management are important. To attract and hold investors and lenders, Chegg must operate reputably. Its website, press releases, and other information and actions suggest that it is making a concerted effort to do so.
Why Is Chegg Controversial?
The blunt headline of an article in the generally reputable Forbes business magazine put Chegg's controversy this way: “This $12 Billion Company Is Getting Rich Off Students Cheating Their Way Through Covid.” The Forbes senior editor in charge of education coverage, given credit for the article, began it with this equally blunt statement: “Meet superspreader Chegg, which has become the most valuable edtech company in America by connecting college students to test answers on demand.” To at least one prominent media outlet, Chegg's services look like they're meant to give students test answers on demand. The Forbes article claims that of the fifty-two students whom it interviewed for the article, all but four admitted to using Chegg to cheat on exams, aside from the six students whom Chegg suggested that it interview. Some of those students were from the world's most prestigious universities.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has defended students from public, private, undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs nationwide against academic and other misconduct charges. Whether you are a full-time or part-time student, attending an Ivy League school or commuter school, or in any other higher education program, don't delay in retaining an academic administrative attorney who has the special skills and expertise that you need when facing misconduct charges. Misconduct charges put everything you are working toward in school on the line. You have everything at stake when facing an academic misconduct charge involving Chegg use.
How Did Chegg Get Started?
According to the Forbes article, Chegg began around the year 2000 as an “online campus flea market” under the name CheggPost. Chegg combines chicken and egg. Early on, Chegg focused on its textbook rental services. But in 2010, Chegg acquired the startup Cramster, a website that two college students had started to provide online answers to math, science, and engineering problems. The Forbes article reports that the Cramster acquisition became the “golden goose” of Chegg's operations. Chegg soon refocused its business plan from textbook rentals to online student services. Chegg also bought the online flashcard service StudyBlue. Chegg's adaptation from its early textbook days to an online instant answer service transformed its business and skyrocketed its value.
Do Examples of Chegg Misconduct Scandals Exist?
Yes. Consider this media account of the Chegg cheating scandal at Texas A&M University. The report indicates that the university sent a warning letter to hundreds of students in a finance course after faculty members reported to the Aggie Honor System Office “very large scale” cheating concerns involving Chegg use. The letter warned students to self-report Chegg cheating by a deadline or face suspension or expulsion. Students admitted to the media outlet that they used Chegg to answer online assignments. The university's warning letter, though, asserted that the university's learning management system showed that students had answered online exam questions quicker than a student could read the question. The letter also alleged hundreds of such instances involving many students. The media account referenced similar scandals at Georgia Tech and Boston University.
Few things could be as frightening, daunting, and depressing as having your school allege that you are part of a Chegg cheating scheme. You didn't enroll in your school to become its target in a cheating scandal. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the very difficult position in which cheating charges put a college or university student. Attorney Lento knows what students have at stake in misconduct proceedings. He also knows how to help students navigate those proceedings for the best possible outcome, whether the student is wholly innocent or has had involvement in conduct that the school prohibits. Don't delay in retaining a committed academic administrative attorney to represent, defend, and advise you.
How Does Chegg Justify Its Services?
Chegg's current President and CEO maintains a webpage bio on which he touts his corporate goals of disrupting textbook and online learning markets. In plain words, Chegg is trying to do things differently, it says, to provide better goods and services to more students and professors at lower prices. Chegg's President and CEO maintains that Chegg's mission is to always put students first “by helping them save time, save money, and get smarter.” Saving students time is on its face a sound and laudable goal. The Forbes article cited and quoted above attributes to Chegg's President and CEO the rationale that Chegg is simply “the equivalent of an asynchronous, always-on tutor, ready to help students with detailed answers to problems.”
What Could Be Wrong with Chegg's Justification?
The potential problem with Chegg's argument that it is merely saving students time is that learning takes time. The Forbes article quotes a Chegg executive as saying that its instant-answer online tutors help “get unstuck.” But sticking on a problem long enough to learn strategic approaches to problem-solving is how much learning occurs. Students who misuse Chegg services to cheat on exams and assignments can surely save time. But cheating won't make those students any smarter. Chegg has legitimate and laudable goals when it asserts it wants to help students save time and money. The question that the rash of Chegg cheating scandals raises is whether Chegg can achieve its legitimate goals without also accomplishing great harm to many students and institutions by facilitating cheating scandals. Cheating scandals destroy student hopes, dreams, and investments. Cheating scandals also damage and burden institutions.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented so many students through misconduct proceedings that he knows how those proceedings affect students. Attorney Lento has also seen the stories of students who did not retain a skilled academic administrative attorney until after the school had already suspended or expelled them based on a finding of misconduct. While Attorney Lento has succeeded in helping students who have already suffered suspension or dismissal from their school, and you should retain a skilled academic administrative attorney if you are in that position, it is far better to get that help before suffering a sanction.
Why Do Students Use Chegg?
In some ways, the vastly increased use of Chegg, either for cheating or for legitimate uses, reflects higher education's perfect storm. Many more students today are taking remote, virtual, online courses, not just because of the pandemic but because of reduced costs, greater access, and greater flexibility. Increased online courses naturally increases student use of online resources like Chegg. Put simply, everything has moved online, not just in the home and workplace but also in schools including especially in higher education. Yet online courses challenge students differently than classroom courses. Online students have little to no social support. They may also have more responsibilities outside of school, like jobs and families. The pressure to complete online studies without social support and with other responsibilities presses students to find time savers and shortcuts. Enter Chegg. Chegg's pitch to make students smarter at less cost and in less time is the perfect pitch in the perfect storm. One could have predicted the Chegg cheating scandals if they hadn't already happened.
What Is Chegg's Allure for Students Who Cheat with It?
Chegg's instant-answer service is a bit like having an older, smarter sibling sitting in the room where Chegg's student subscriber is doing online assignments or taking online exams, ready to help the student with answers. Or it's a bit like having the professor's model answers available to the student at all times with a few keystrokes. If Chegg is consistently as prompt, accurate, and helpful as it claims, then student subscribers know that they can have the answers if they are willing to risk discovery and its consequences. Temptation is cheating's allure. In effect, Chegg subscribers at all times have a whisper in their ear that they don't have to work so hard and do so poorly, if they'd only submit the hard questions to Chegg for prompt answers.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the circumstances that motivate and influence students to cheat. One of the skills that an experienced academic administrative attorney can exercise on a student's behalf in a misconduct proceeding is to help the student show compelling circumstances that mitigate any misconduct. Just because a student commits misconduct doesn't mean that the student must suffer a crippling sanction. Sanctions depend on the circumstances. Retain a skilled academic administrative attorney to identify and advocate mitigating circumstances.
How Many Students Use Chegg?
The Forbes article cited and quoted above indicates that the pandemic supercharged Chegg's subscription business. According to the Forbes article, subscriptions grew by 69% year over year to 3.7 million students. A more recent Inside Higher Ed article reports that Chegg's user base has continued to grow dramatically and is now at 6.6 million users. That's a lot of Chegg users. Chegg has reached a significant percentage of the U.S.'s approximately 20 million college students. You will doubtless find Chegg users on nearly every American campus. Indeed, you might find one or more Chegg users in most American college courses. Every college or university, and nearly every professor teaching a relatively large undergraduate course, is likely to have encountered Chegg users, if not Chegg issues.
Does Chegg Make Money?
Yes, and lots of it. The Forbes article cited and quoted above indicates that with the pandemic's surge, Chegg's revenue grew to around $630 million for the most recent. Given that Chegg is an entry in the darling tech sector, the market currently values Chegg at more than $12 billion. The Forbes article further indicates that the holdings and proceeds of Chegg's President and CEO are around $300 million. Investors are making money, too. The Forbes article indicates that Chegg's share value more than tripled in the pandemic. Making money is generally not a problem. On the contrary, businesses should aspire to earn profits for the security of their employees and the income of their shareholders. But the manner in which a business makes its profit remains important.
Students who cheat using Chegg services aren't necessarily victims of unscrupulous business practices. Yet national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento can help a student charged with Chegg cheating show how the student's unfamiliarity with academic norms and the professor's lack of clarity in instructions contributed to any misconduct. School discipline officials can be good at distinguishing perpetrators from victims. School officials can also be sensitive to an unsophisticated student's need for time to grow in maturity. A skilled academic administrative attorney can help a student charged with Chegg cheating show mitigating circumstances, reducing any penalty the school decides to impose.
Is Posting a Problem or Question to Chegg Cheating?
Very probably, yes. You should assume so unless your professor clearly indicates otherwise. Iowa State University's student conduct page on Online Cheating and Chegg provides a good guide. It invites professors to submit a request for an honor code investigation if they discover their material posted to Chegg. Chegg is not only an online answering service. It is also an online warehouse for course problems and questions. Many professors don't want their course materials in that warehouse. They want to control when and how you encounter and use their questions and problems. Your professor's syllabi, exam instructions, or assignment instructions should alert you when professor materials or course resources are copyrighted, proprietary, restricted, or confidential. But don't post any of your professor's questions or problems, whether for an assignment or an exam, to Chegg unless you are sure that your professor permits it. Chegg doesn't need to answer your posted question or problem for you to have committed misconduct if your professor objects to the release and posting of course materials.
Not every misconduct charge is accurate. Schools make mistakes and draw wrong inferences as to which student posted or otherwise misused a professor's proprietary materials. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento knows how to defend a student whom a school unfairly charges with posting or otherwise misusing a professor's proprietary material, whether the student used Chegg or not. Don't let a false or unfair academic misconduct charge ruin your education. The school's pressure to have you admit to things you did not do or to accept unfair and exaggerated discipline can be substantial. But you have rights and procedures that a skilled academic administrative attorney can use to protect you.
Is Procuring and Using a Chegg Answer Cheating?
Very probably, yes, although it may depend on how you use Chegg's answer. Chegg's website advertises that it uses subject experts to answer, with a short turn-around time, course questions and problems that students submit. Submitting a professor's problem or question could alone be academic misconduct, as the prior section addresses. But using a Chegg expert's answer to complete an assignment or exam, without your professor's approval, is a different and arguably more severe form of academic misconduct. Your submission of a Chegg answer for course credit may misrepresent the answer as your own work, even if your professor permitted you to use notes, outlines, or other resources to answer the problem or question. Referring to notes or outlines is one thing, while submitting someone else's answer is a qualitatively different thing. At that point, you are no longer doing the work. Chegg is doing the work, but you are getting the credit. That advantage is very likely cheating.
If you have misunderstood how you may and must not use Chegg's services, and you now face an academic misconduct charge or investigation, then retain national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to defend you. Don't lose hope. Don't lose faith in the value of your education or in your ability to navigate misconduct proceedings in such a way as to continue and complete that education. A skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney can help you generate options, find alternatives, and negotiate acceptable and manageable outcomes, even for Chegg cheating charges.
Who Writes Chegg's Answers?
Chegg claims to have subject experts write its answers. Chegg India's website indicates that those so-called experts are actually freelance writers who sign up online and then get paid for each answer. Other information suggests that student customer ratings help determine which experts get to continue their Chegg freelancing and which experts Chegg terminates. Your Chegg expert could be a degreed engineer or mathematician. Or not. You may have no real assurance that your Chegg expert is anything other than a self-proclaimed freelance writer with a knack for answering some questions and solving some problems. Other information suggests reasonably widespread quality to Chegg answers. Chegg answers may be like other study materials one finds online, much of which has serious defects. Professors can readily spot the work of impostors. They can often tell when an answer doesn't reflect the student's natural writing style and voice. Never submit a Chegg answer as your own work. It may not help you and may well be serious academic misconduct.
Is Chegg Cheating Always Online?
No. In theory and practice, students could use Chegg services to cheat on classroom exams and assignments. A cell phone, laptop computer, or other portable device with an internet connection in the classroom or exam room could enable a student to access the Chegg service against professor instructions. Students could also use Chegg before entering the classroom or exam room, to obtain exam or assignment questions submitted by students who already completed the exam or assignment, and Chegg answers. Students don't have to be taking an online course or online exam, or completing an online assignment, to cheat using Chegg.
Is Chegg Cheating Most Often Online?
Yes. An Inside Higher Ed article reported a nearly two-hundred percent increase in student submission of course questions to Chegg exactly when the pandemic moved most college and university students online. The article also noted that Chegg touts an online answer turn-around time of as little as thirty minutes and posts an average forty-six minute online response time. Citing and quoting a study published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity on the pandemic's impact on the use of Chegg and the incidence of cheating, the Higher Ed article reported the study's conclusion that Chegg was a highly likely source for online cheating in remote courses the pandemic required. Online cheating isn't, though, a pandemic issue. It's instead a higher education issue, given the growing prevalence of online courses throughout higher education.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and his strong team at the Lento Law Firm know how colleges and universities use online learning management systems. They also know how schools use exam security software and other electronic systems to detect and prove cheating. Schools sometimes make mistakes in the inferences of cheating that they draw from electronic evidence. They also misunderstand student motives and other important contexts for evaluating what happened in a cheating scandal or charge. A skilled and aggressive academic administrative attorney can help you challenge, rebut, and give context to academic misconduct charges.
Is Using Chegg Always Cheating?
Not necessarily, no. The clearest permissible use of Chegg is for homework, assuming by homework one means assignments that the professor requests or requires a student to complete but that the student does not turn in for credit. Homework turned in for credit based on Chegg answers probably is cheating. Any direct use of Chegg for classwork, meaning professor assignments that the student submits for credit, or for exams, is also very probably cheating, depending on the details of professor instructions. But most use of Chegg for homework not turned in for credit is probably not cheating, again depending on the details of professor instructions. Chegg has permissible uses. But it also has impermissible uses. And the latter may present more risks than the former presents rewards. Be cautious with Chegg use.
If you used Chegg in a manner that was permissible, but your school has charged you with misuse of Chegg or is investigating potential charges, then retain and consult national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento. Don't wait until the school takes adverse action. Getting the help of a skilled academic administrative attorney early in a misconduct proceeding can avert adverse actions that could later be hard to reverse.
How Are Schools Responding to Chegg Cheating?
Chegg has certainly caught the attention of colleges and universities. Colleges and universities spent millions during the pandemic to improve their capability to proctor remote exams necessitated by pandemic restrictions. Schools contracted with services like Honorlock, Extegrity, and Examity for virtual surveillance during exams, to lock student web browsers, and to track student computer use. The Forbes article quotes Texas A&M's Honor System director, who took responsibility for investigating the school's Chegg cheating scandal, as calling it “an arms race…. We're trying to stop academic misconduct [while] students are convincing themselves that all their peers are doing this.”
Don't let yourself get swept up in your school's overreaction or insensitive response to what it perceives as Chegg's threat to its academic model. Professors have traditional ways of instructing. Online technologies like learning management systems, programmed instruction, and remote or virtual courses have already changed how professors must teach students and evaluate student work. Chegg's services are still a new dimension of online instruction. Schools are still figuring out how to respond to student use of Chegg. Don't let your school condemn your use of Chegg when your use may have conformed with vague professor instructions and with your peers' performance. Retain national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you defend your Chegg charge or other charge or investigation of academic misconduct.
Has Anyone Officially Condemned Chegg?
Sort of, but not quite. The Inside Higher Ed article cited above reported that the president for the nonprofit International Center for Academic Integrity noted increasing concerns in that field about Chegg and similar sites. The organization's president also happens to be the director of the Honor and Integrity System at Kansas State University. The organization also released a statement saying that tutoring and help sites are undermining teaching and learning, although the statement did not name Chegg. The Inside Higher Ed article also quoted the co-founder of Integrity Seminars saying that the sites facilitate academic dishonesty. But those are just nonprofit leaders, not government regulators, who haven't yet taken a public interest in examining the sites. Ultimately, the student market may be responsible for ending the Chegg cheating problem. The Chegg problem will go away when students stop posting exams and assignments to it and paying it for exam and assignment answers. That change, though, may not happen soon, if ever.
College and university administrators are increasingly recognizing that Chegg use is an unavoidable part of the instructional environment. Schools may be charging students with Chegg cheating today when with clearer professor instructions those schools would not be charging misconduct tomorrow. If you face Chegg cheating charges, you are still at the forefront of how schools are responding to widespread student use of Chegg services. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has a mature perspective on the Chegg issue. He can help your school's misconduct administrators better understand the Chegg problem and how a responsible school should respond to it.
Do Chegg's Submissions Databases Violate Copyright Laws?
It depends on whom you ask. Chegg says that it complies with copyright laws. If a professor complains to Chegg that a student has improperly forwarded to Chegg notes, questions, or other materials in which a professor claims copyright, then Chegg's copyright policy is to remove the copyrighted content. Chegg says it does not post professor lectures. Chegg also maintains that it reviews student submissions on its own for copyrighted material. Chegg's copyright policy is consistent with other internet companies. Yet professor critics maintain that Chegg knows or should know that most professor questions that students submit would be copyrighted and that professors just don't know of the submissions. The widely-read Inside Higher Ed published a recent article reporting on the textbook publisher Pearson's new federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Chegg for posting answers to questions in Pearson's copyrighted textbooks. Pearson was Chegg's partner until recently, giving Chegg access to Pearson questions. Inside Higher Ed suggests that the lawsuit's results could seriously affect Chegg and similar online services. The Inside Higher Ed article reported Chegg's reply that Chegg complies with the law and that its Pearson business was small in any case.
Can My School Charge Me for Chegg Copyright Violations?
Yes. Colleges and universities maintain separate policies, like the ones at Rutgers University and Villanova University, that warn students and other members of the academic community against copyright violations. Copyright violations not only violate federal law. They also violate academic integrity codes and policies. The Rutgers copyright policy, for example, reminds students that a copyright violation violates the school's academic integrity policy. If you upload a professor's copyright exam or assignment questions, notes, or other materials to Chegg without your professor's permission, then your school may charge you with academic misconduct. Your school may also request that Chegg remove the material, absolving Chegg from copyright liability, even though you'd still be responsible.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has defended students nationwide in academic misconduct proceedings involving copying and copyright issues. Attorney Lento knows the copyright policies that schools apply and interpret in misconduct proceedings. If you face an academic misconduct charge alleging improper posting to Chegg, or other misuse, of copyrighted materials, then retain a skilled academic administrative attorney who knows copyright laws and policies.
Can't Schools Solve the Online Exam Chegg Problem?
Probably not, but they're sure trying. Students taking online exams remotely have so many ways to frustrate exam surveillance systems, whether those measures involve proctors who stare at laptop camera images to ensure students remain visible and working on their exams, or sophisticated exam-security tools like Examity and Honorlock. Having second laptops or other internet-accessible devices, avoiding Wi-Fi use, and employing dual screens can skirt some surveillance measures. And some students just find subtle online cheating activities to be worth the risk. Unfortunately, for some students, online cheating using Chegg or similar resources is simply a high-stakes game. Cheating will likely always be in play. It's just that the availability of Chegg makes instant access to exam and assignment problems that much easier.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento knows the responsibilities that professors and schools have to administer exams and other assignments properly. Attorney Lento also knows the measures schools take and the software systems they use to monitor exams, and the practices of exam proctors. Exam monitoring and proctoring can be effective in discerning cheating. But exam proctors and administrators also make mistakes, sometimes believing that cheating is occurring when the accused student is innocent. If you face cheating charges alleging misuse of Chegg for an exam, then retain a skilled academic administrative attorney who knows exam monitoring and proctoring practices. You need the help of an attorney with special knowledge and skills.
Is Chegg Doing Anything to Help Schools Beat Exam Cheating?
The irony of ironies: Chegg itself offers professors an online anti-cheating tool that it calls its Honor Shield. A Chegg press release introduced its Honor Shield tool very recently in the Summer of 2021. Chegg must deeply appreciate the risks that its cheating problem creates for the company and its investors and lenders. Chegg offers its Honor Shield tool to professors for free. An online faculty forum, though, questions whether professors should use Chegg's Honor Shield tool. Participating professors must submit their exams to Chegg. That submission gives Chegg even more information to use as it sees fit. Like some of the professors participating in the online faculty forum, the Forbes article doubts the effectiveness of Chegg's Honor Shield, saying it won't likely keep from chegging. When the company's name becomes a verb for cheating, you know the company has a problem.
Why Do Students Cheat Using Chegg?
Coming up with motives for cheating ignores that cheating is wrong, no matter its risks. But motives for cheating certainly exist. Motives for cheating fall along a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are students who may fail a course and even suffer dismissal from the program and school if they don't pass an exam--with or without cheating. At the spectrum's other end are students who don't necessarily need a better grade to pass a course and graduate but who compete so unreasonably that cheating appears as an option. Consider the students who suffer discipline for cheating. Some of them have had only marginal academic success. For them, cheating seems to mean survival. Others, though, already have substantial academic success. For them, cheating seems to mean getting an undue advantage that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Motives are complex. There is no truly and entirely good motive for cheating. But Iowa State University's student conduct page on Online Cheating and Chegg gives these reasons why students cheat using Chegg:
- poor time management
- poor prioritization
- a mistaken belief that cheating is the only path to success
- the mistaken impression that the school will not catch them
- indifference to cheating as reflected by student and professor attitudes
- misunderstanding as to what constitutes cheating
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented and defended so many students facing academic misconduct charges from so many different backgrounds in so many different circumstances that he understands the external factors that can influence cheating. If you face Chegg cheating charges, then your school needs to understand your circumstances. School discipline officials recognize different degrees of student responsibility. School discipline officials routinely adjust charges, procedures, sanctions, relief, and outcomes depending on each student's individual circumstance. Let national college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento help you show your school the explanation for your conduct. That explanation may make all the difference in your charge's outcome.
Isn't Chegg Cheating Okay If Everyone's Doing It?
No. For many students in the middle of the academic spectrum, the motive to cheat is no more complex than everybody's doing it. But everybody is not doing it. A few students cheating using Chegg can seem like other students are also doing it. And in some courses and classes, more students may be doing it than one might well imagine. But in nearly every cheating scandal, whether involving Chegg or not, some students end up standing out as not having participated in the cheating scheme. Those students may have had to work harder. They may even have gotten lower scores or grades. But they end up as heroes in the context of the other students, sometimes many other students, who ended up joining in on the cheating. Be a hero. Don't follow the crowd.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento recognizes when a student charged with misconduct may have fallen to the influence of a student or institutional culture of non-compliance. As the University of Chicago's disciplinary policies acknowledge, “Every student bears responsibility for his or her misconduct, regardless of whether the misconduct takes place in a group setting or as a member or a group. However, individual misconduct may also be, at least in part, the responsibility of other members of the group and the group leadership.”
Attorney Lento knows how to identify and present cultural context explaining the student's conduct and, in many cases exonerating the student or mitigating the misconduct. Those sensitive communications and negotiations can happen in several contexts when the attorney has the skills and knows the academic administrative customs. It isn't always a matter of proceeding to a contested hearing. School discipline officials are often amenable to private discussions of alternative resolutions. Indeed, college and university misconduct procedures routinely provide for an opportunity for informal resolution. As the University of Massachusetts--Amherst academic honesty policies and procedures acknowledge, “Informal resolutions are a fast-track way of handling dishonesty cases.”
Isn't Chegg Cheating a Victimless Wrong?
No. Chegg cheating, and other forms of cheating, are not victimless crimes. When one student cheats, the cheating student gains undue advantages of grades, awards, and time that other students who are not cheating lose. When students see other students cheating, they naturally feel that inequity. With every struggle over an unanswered or wrongly answered problem, the honest student feels a cheating loss. On the contrary, the honest student's struggles mean that the student is learning how to solve problems. But the cheating student's ease and better scores and grades still hurt the honest student. That's why everybody's doing it can become a rationale for cheating. Yet, it's still a false rationale.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and insight to recognize how to present a student's Chegg cheating defense in an appropriate light. Students don't generally know how discipline officials respond to various circumstances, arguments, and asserted defenses. Students can stumble in their own defense, making matters worse rather than better. Students also often don't know how to present in an articulate and sensitive fashion defenses that school discipline officials do recognize and appreciate. Attorney Lento knows the arguments to make and not to make to help students facing Chegg cheating charges reach the best possible outcome.
What If Others Are Chegg Cheating?
Consider reporting the cheating students. If the school investigates, Chegg should help catch the cheaters using its services. That's what Chegg advertises with its Honor Code. When one student cheats, other students can feel the unfairness and suffer diminished rank and grade. But the solution isn't to level the playing field by joining in the cheating. The solution is to level the playing field by stopping the cheating. More cheating hurts everyone. Less cheating helps everyone. If a student observes Chegg cheating, the student should report the cheating. If you are a classmate of the cheating student, or even if you are only another student at the same institution, then the cheating is hurting you, too. Don't be a victim of cheating. Report cheating when you suspect cheating.
Students charged with academic or other misconduct often have serious questions over how they should respond to school inquiries about the misconduct of other students. Students charged with misconduct also often have serious questions over whether they should volunteer information about other students' cheating when the school hasn't asked. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and insight to help students decide how to proceed when they hold information or evidence that could incriminate other students in misconduct. Attorney Lento appreciates the sensitivity of the issue of when a misconduct report is appropriate. Get sound attorney advice if you are in that sensitive position.
What If Someone Retaliates for My Report of Chegg Cheating?
Report the person for retaliation. If you are worried about student or professor retaliation for reporting suspected cheating, then you need to know that academic misconduct codes routinely prohibit retaliation. The anti-retaliation policy at the City University of New York is an example. Those who retaliate can suffer severe discipline, including expulsion for the student or dismissal for the employee. A student who retaliates against you for reporting the student's Chegg cheating is committing another form of academic misconduct. You shouldn't worry unduly about retaliation. Retaliation happens, but misconduct administrators are generally quick to recognize retaliation, punish retaliation, and protect the reporter against further retaliation. Report cheating and report any retaliation for your report of cheating.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented many students in misconduct cases involving retaliation. A student charged with misconduct can make mistakes in the way that the student treats other students when communicating about the charges. Retaliation can be in the eyes of the beholder. A student may not intend to retaliate but can nonetheless end up looking as if so. Attorney Lento knows how to advise students whom a school has charged with misconduct, to help them avoid retaliation and retaliation charges. Attorney Lento can also help a student inform the school about retaliation against the student for reporting the misconduct of other students. Don't let retaliation issues undermine your misconduct proceeding. Get the help of a skilled academic administrative attorney.
What Are the Risks of Cheating Using Chegg?
The risks of Chegg cheating, or chegging, are real and substantial. Just because the cheating is online doesn't make it any less subject to your school's academic misconduct policies. For example, the University of Michigan's academic misconduct page for its vast undergraduate school of Literature, Science, and the Arts gives as one of its examples of cheating, “Using electronic devices (e.g., phones, watches, calculators) that provide answers or other unauthorized information for exams.” Reported Chegg scandals show the involved schools applying the same academic misconduct policies that those schools would apply to traditional forms of cheating on in-class exams. A student's open letter in the Texas A&M Chegg cheating scandal disclosed that the university gave the student a failing grade and no credit for the course in which he admitted Chegg cheating to avoid a more serious punishment. Texas A&M also reportedly barred the student from graduating with honors despite the student's 4.00 grade point average before the failing-grade sanction.
Chegg cheating charges sometimes surprise students. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento can help students charged with Chegg cheating explain to the school the circumstances that led the student to believe that the student's Chegg use was innocent. Don't mistakenly admit misconduct that you did not commit. Get the help of a skilled and experienced academic misconduct defense attorney to help you explain exonerating circumstances without implicating yourself in, and mistakenly admitting, misconduct.
Won't Chegg Cheating Result in Only a Slap on the Wrist?
Chegg cheating can result in much more than a relatively modest penalty like the one that Texas A&M imposed on the student who admitted cheating. Admitting to Chegg cheating when other students have also cheated, under circumstances where the professor may not have been entirely clear as to the use of Chegg, may deserve a relatively modest penalty. But getting caught for Chegg cheating without having come forward, and where the instructions and stakes were much clearer, is a different circumstance. The default cheating sanction at many colleges and universities is a suspension, not just a failing grade. A suspension can spur collateral consequences that change a student's entire dynamic. Scholarships, internships, clinics, graduation dates, jobs, licensing exams, apartment leases, and student or other loans can all depend on steady progress toward graduation, in good standing and without sanction. A cheating punishment, whether heavy or light, can also ruin a reputation and professional network. Don't expect a slap on the wrist for Chegg cheating. Expect a substantial sanction with substantial consequences.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento not only helps students defend and defeat false, unfair, and exaggerated misconduct charges. Attorney Lento also helps students show mitigating circumstances and advocate for appropriately sensitive sanctions. Schools have wide options for the penalties they impose. Creative sanctions can help the student learn and grow without ruining the student's reputation, education, and future. Get the help of a sensitive and articulate academic misconduct defense attorney if you face probable sanctions but wish to ensure that the sanctions are rehabilitative rather than destructive.
How Are Professors Responding to Chegg Use?
Professors are generally well aware of Chegg use. Many of them are wary of it. Some of them are dead set against it. Faculty conferences are also addressing Chegg use. One could say that a movement is afoot. How that movement will proceed or end remains in question. Professors may adapt to Chegg. They may even learn to employ Chegg to increase learning in their courses, as Chegg invites. But many will continue to prohibit Chegg use, threatening to punish students who violate their prohibition. National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento can help a student charged with Chegg cheating show the school that the professor bears responsibility for not providing clear and timely instructions as to permissible Chegg uses.
Can't Professors Do More to Stop Chegg Cheating?
Yes, professors can play a role in reducing Chegg cheating charges. One student who admitted involvement in the Texas A&M Chegg cheating scandal wrote an open letter asserting that the professor teaching the course wasn't as clear as the professor should have been. The online exam instructions evidently treated the exam as an open note exam, even though the instructions also prohibited collaboration. The sanctioned student wrote that he and other students interpreted those instructions to allow for individual Chegg use, just not classmate collaboration. The professor and university disagreed, causing the student to accept the sanction. But the point remains that clear professor instructions as to whether Chegg is a permissible resource for an exam or assignment could reduce cheating. Iowa State University, for instance, encourages professors to include Chegg limitations in their course syllabi. Iowa State University's student conduct page on Online Cheating and Chegg gives professors these other suggestions for deterring Chegg cheating:
- discuss academic integrity early in the course
- share with students the policy to hold students accountable for cheating
- warn students at the beginning of assignments and exams
- instruct students clearly as to what an exam or assignment permits
- require students to show original work and problem solutions
- implement an academic integrity pledge in the course
Why Do Schools Charge Misconduct for Chegg Misuse?
Schools charge Chegg cheating for the same reasons they charge other forms of cheating. Academic integrity is an institution's coin of the realm. If a school doesn't have academic integrity, it doesn't have much of anything. Accreditors, lenders, alumni, contributors, employers hiring graduates, internship sites, clinic patients and clients, and other school constituents all have an interest in academic integrity. A school without academic integrity is not educating its students to the level that assessments purport to reflect. If you can't rely on a school's scoring of exams and assignments, then you can't rely on course grades. If you can't rely on course grades, then you can't rely on awarded degrees. If you can't rely on awarded degrees, then you can't rely on anything. Colleges and universities are to some degree in the business of certifying graduate capability. Reliable certification requires academic integrity.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento understands why colleges and universities pursue academic misconduct charges. Attorney Lento helps students charged with misconduct respect the strong institutional interests without giving away the student's own interest in a positive outcome to the charges. Schools don't necessarily have to punish students severely to accomplish school objectives. Rehabilitative and alternative sanctions like counseling, education, and school or community service can offer positive solutions that preserve both the school's interest and the student's interest.
What's Wrong with Instant Chegg Answers?
Plenty. Instant answers deprive students of the critical learning exercise of wrestling with problems. Problem-solving has subtle methods. Those methods include confirming factual understanding, confirming the question call, discerning discrete problem steps, generating solution options for each step, evaluating options, and testing solutions. Students learn problem-solving when working in their zone of proximal development. That zone is where students feel the struggle, even if the struggle is a resolvable struggle. Learning occurs primarily when it has just the right level of difficulty. Professors tend to be experts in presenting students with just that right level of difficulty where they can learn with effort. Instant answers can help model solutions for students. After all, textbooks and other learning resources often show so-called worked problems to help students follow solution procedures. Seeing is believing. But a model problem with an answer is a limited resource that leaves the student to work at solving assigned problems. Chegg, when misused, goes way beyond offering a model problem with an answer. Chegg instead answers the problem that the student is supposed to struggle, learn, and answer.
What Discipline Can a School Impose for Chegg Misuse?
College and university academic misconduct policies routinely, one might even say uniformly, authorize misconduct officers to impose penalties right up to suspension and expulsion for cheating. Ohio State University's policy is an example. That policy states that “[s]anctions will depend on the circumstances and severity of the offense.” Academic misconduct policies define cheating and then state the permissible sanctions. They rarely, if ever, say what sanctions go with what misconduct. They instead leave the sanction to the judgment of the misconduct officer in each individual case. That discretion makes sense because each misconduct case is different. Some cases involve mitigating circumstances that should lessen the penalty, while other cases involve aggravating circumstances that should increase the penalty. The point is that schools can do pretty much what they wish when sanctioning a student for Chegg cheating, right up to expulsion.
National college and university academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento represents students in appealing overly harsh sanctions for academic and other misconduct. Colleges and universities routinely offer appeals to students who suffer an adverse decision on a misconduct charge, including suspension or expulsion. Academic administrative appeals require special advocacy skills. Attorney Lento and the team at the Lento Law Firm have those special skills. Let attorney Lento help you if you have suffered an overly severe sanction. Schools also have ombudsmen and general counsel offices that can sometimes arrange alternative outcomes. You'd need a skilled and experienced academic misconduct defense attorney to seek and obtain those alternative outcomes.
What Circumstances Mitigate a Chegg Charge?
Definitions of cheating don't assume that students just stumble into it. Cheating is basically to know the rules but not to follow the rules, thereby gaining an undue advantage. But students can certainly be less responsible for some instances of Chegg cheating than for other instances. They may not have been as active as other students in the planning and implementing of the Chegg cheating. They may, for instance, have simply used a Chegg answer that another student solicited rather than submitting the question to Chegg for the answer. They may also have had personal circumstances affecting their sound judgment. Georgetown University's Honor System, for example, recognizes these mitigating circumstances to an academic misconduct charge:
- the student's serious mental or physical illness or disability
- the student's divorce, loss of employment, or other bad news
- the student's cooperation with the investigation
- the student's admission of the wrong and acceptance of responsibility
- a serious illness or death of a close family member
- lack of academic preparation leading to unfamiliarity
- uncertain, unclear, or contradictory instructions
What Circumstances Aggravate a Chegg Charge?
Just as students can be less responsible for some cheating than for other cheating, students can also be more responsible for more egregious forms of cheating. A primary example is the difference in the degree of responsibility between a Chegg ringleader and a gullible follower. The student who organizes, invites, and encourages mass Chegg cheating and then leads an effort to have all involved students cover it up surely aggravates the basic cheating charge. If the charge was Chegg misuse to answer online exam problems, then the ringleader student's submitting exam problems to Chegg while organizing, encouraging, and concealing the use of the Chegg answers would certainly have aggravated the Chegg charges. A school might well expel the ringleader even if other passive participants suffered only a failing-grade sanction. Georgetown University's Honor System recognizes these other aggravating circumstances:
- the cheating caused physical or mental harm to others
- the student had a prior record of cheating
- the student obstructed the investigation with deception
- the student denied the wrong and refused responsibility
Do Online Resources Similar to Chegg Exist?
Yes. Chegg might disagree, but at least one school, Iowa State University, groups Chegg in with other so-called online coursework warehouses StudyBlue, Course Hero, and Quizlet. Chegg owns StudyBlue. Students may risk cheating when accessing these other coursework warehouses. Chegg, though, does more than warehouse exam problems and answers and assignment problems and answers. Chegg also provides its instant online tutoring service, allowing students to submit questions and problems for quick answers. That service may be what makes Chegg the unfortunate leader in online cheating issues. The Forbes article reports that Chegg's only significant, though much smaller, competition in online answer services is Course Hero. Course Hero charges around $60 for three months of online services, somewhat more than Chegg's base $15 per month price.
Can Schools and Professors Track Chegg Use?
Yes. Popular institutional learning management systems like Canvas and Blackboard can track student access to exams and assignments, time logged in and time logged out, and other data points that can suggest Chegg use to answer restricted exams or assignments. That's how Texas A&M caught on to its massive Chegg cheating scandal, based on examining data readily observed in the school's learning management system. Exam security services like Honorlock, Extegrity, and Examity can do even more than learning management systems to record student keystrokes, track a student's browser use, and discover access to Chegg or its resources. Academic misconduct investigators know how to use these systems to discover evidence suggesting cheating. In high stakes cases, schools may even retain computer forensic analysts to confirm electronic evidence of suspected cheating. The means often exist to catch Chegg cheating.
Can Chegg Tell When I Use Its Services?
Yes. Chegg knows its users. That's the only way that Chegg can profit from its services. Using internet cookies, Chegg is generally able to track the IP address of any student viewing a question. A student might fake a name and institution when signing up for a Chegg account, but the IP address is a giveaway of the student's identity. Chegg also has the email and billing address for users who pay to use its system. Your use of Chegg isn't secure or confidential unless you have taken steps to conceal your identity. Even then, electronic and other tracing may well be possible. Don't underestimate the quantity and quality of hidden tracking data whenever you use Chegg or another electronic system. Also, don't rely on a detection ethic. Don't do wrong things on the assumption that others won't discover what you've done. Doing so creates too much stress and risk. Doing so is also wrong and immoral, for anyone who rightly cares about character and values. Build a stronger ethic. Assume that people know what you're doing. Do the right thing, and you won't need to worry about hiding your tracks or being discovered.
May Chegg Tell Schools About Student Users?
Yes, Chegg may do so. Chegg's Honor Code tells student users that it may help “an institution determine the nature of the misuse and the identities of those involved in committing such fraud.” Many commercial transactions have a degree of privacy about them. Companies and their customers may just decide to keep things private between them. But they may, on the other hand, not have any particular agreement about whether their transactions are private and confidential. And their transaction may not involve anything about which either party has a reasonable expectation of privacy. In those cases, either party may have the right, opportunity, and in some instances, the duty to disclose aspects of the transaction to others who have a legitimate interest in knowing. Using Chegg isn't a private act like seeking medical care. The only thing that would make using Chegg private is the attempt to cheat, which isn't the point of privacy protections. Unless you had a user agreement with Chegg that granted you a right of privacy, Chegg may disclose your use to persons or entities having an interest in knowing, like a school investigating cheating.
How Would My Professor or School Get Chegg's Information?
It's almost as simple as going to Chegg's website and completing its online form for an Honor Code investigation. Chegg indicates that the professor or school can speed the release of user information by including the signature of the dean or the student conduct officer on school letterhead backing the investigation. The professor or school must also supply basic information, including the school, course, exam, and exam time frame. But Chegg clearly intends to make it easy for a school investigating academic misconduct to get student user information.
Why Does Chegg Share Student User Information?
Chegg makes disclosure of student information so easy because of its obvious concern for the misuse of its services. Chegg wouldn't last long if it was only a cheating platform. Because Chegg services can so easily facilitate online cheating, Chegg must continually demonstrate the legitimacy of its services. Its Honor Code is one way that it does so. Its willingness to disclose student user information to schools investigating academic misconduct is another way that it does so. If Chegg didn't act in this manner, then it might face additional regulatory scrutiny. It's a bit like the history of the music download sites, identified today as piracy sites that nearly destroyed the music industry. Chegg doesn't want to go the way of the old Napster, at one time shut down by a federal judge for wholesale copyright infringement. Chegg's owners, lenders, and investors certainly wouldn't want it to run afoul of regulators or courts. Neither would a lot of student users.
Does Chegg Have to Tell Schools About Student Users?
Yes, in some cases. Chegg may have a legal duty to disclose user information in some circumstances. Internet service providers take different approaches to disclosures when someone with an interest requests user information. Some internet service providers resist disclosure to the point of requiring a subpoena, in effect, a court order. Other internet service providers have a lower bar. They will disclose any non-private information when the requester demonstrates a substantial interest in disclosure. Schools investigating academic misconduct have substantial interests. Public colleges and universities are also governmental entities. Some internet service providers regard their actions, especially their administrative investigations, as carrying the force and effect of law. Colleges and universities maintain policies and procedures that authorize investigation of academic misconduct, including obtaining third-party records. Depending on the Chegg official who responds to your school's request, Chegg may determine that it must comply with a request for user information.
What Role Do Student Witnesses Play in Chegg Charges?
A big role in some cases. Where computer forensics fails to produce sufficient evidence of cheating, the school may rely on other students who observed or learned about the accused student's cheating. Word of cheating or other irregularities often gets around among classmates. Cheaters sometimes tip their hands in offhand conversations with friends and fellow students. Once one student has evidence of cheating, that student is likely to share the information with another student. Soon enough, a staff member or professor will hear of it, leading to an investigation and charge. The students who observed the cheating or heard the cheater's admission then become witnesses to the Chegg charge. Academic misconduct administrators often break cheating cases based on student testimony. Indeed, a common tactic is to turn one cheater against another. The first cheater to admit the wrong and accuse another may get the school's leniency.
If I Observe Chegg Cheating, Must I Report It?
In some schools, yes. Honor codes like the one at Texas A&M University require students to report misconduct when they see it. The Aggie Honor Code states, “An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” A student who fails to report observed misconduct under a code like the Aggie Honor Code has committed misconduct. Cheating scandals thus often include three levels of wrongdoer: student ringleaders, student participants in the cheating, and students who observe but fail to report the cheating. The observer who fails to report may receive a lesser sanction than the sanctions imposed at the other levels, but a sanction will still follow. Best to report suspected misconduct than to ignore it and suffer a failure-to-report sanction.
What Role Can an Attorney Play Defending a Chegg Charge?
The representation of an academic misconduct defense attorney can be critical to your successful defense of a Chegg charge. Students don't generally have the investigation, research, analysis, documentation, presentation, advocacy, communication, negotiation, administrative, and litigation skills of an attorney. A Chegg charge of academic misconduct can implicate all of those attorney skills. A Chegg charge also implicates knowledge of computer forensics, metadata, and preservation of electronic evidence, typical of attorney skills. An academic misconduct defense attorney can help in all of these ways:
- investigation to confirm what truly happened rather than what the school may have mistakenly alleged and charged
- research into the school's academic misconduct code and procedures to ensure authoritative presentations at the right time in the right form in the right forum
- analysis of the law and evidence to show why the accused student did not commit misconduct or had mitigating explanations for any misconduct that may have occurred
- documentation of the facts and circumstances in an organized and understandable manner, proving the accused student's defenses
- presentation of the written and oral arguments at conferences and meetings, and of witnesses and exhibits at the hearing
- advocacy in all communications and at all meetings, conferences, and hearings, showing compelling reasons to dismiss the charge or mitigate any penalties
- communication in correspondence, emails, texts, briefs, memoranda, telephone conferences, video conferences, meetings, conferences, and hearings
- negotiation toward dismissal of the charges or consent agreements that eliminate or reduce sanctions to enable the accused student to continue the education uninterrupted
- administration of the case within the academic customs, practices, and procedures, meeting all due dates, and preserving all rights
- litigation including direct and cross-examination of witnesses as allowed, opening statements and closing arguments as allowed, and hearing briefs and appellate briefs
What Kind of Lawyer Should I Hire for a Chegg Charge?
Don't rely on a general practitioner lawyer to defend a Chegg charge of academic misconduct. General practitioner lawyers usually don't have knowledge, skills, and experience relating to academic administrative law and procedures. An academic misconduct proceeding involves administrative law and procedure, not court rules and procedures. Administrative rules differ from court rules. Academic culture differs from legal culture or business culture. Those differences can make a huge impact in defense of an academic misconduct charge. Professors, deans, directors, and administrators have different expectations from lawyers, judges, and business or family litigants in court. An attorney who routinely handles court matters or contract matters won't do. You need an attorney with substantial skill and experience in academic administrative matters and the defense of academic misconduct charges.
National academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm knows how to investigate, defend, and resolve academic misconduct charges, including Chegg charges. Attorney Lento has successfully represented hundreds of college and university students nationwide in defense of academic misconduct and other misconduct charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online today to retain and consult Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm. Your education, career, and reputation are worth retaining the best.