Pandemic Changes How Students Cheat – and How They’re Caught

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way college students receive their education. While the college experience used to involve attending classes in person on campus and taking exams under a professor's watchful eye, the new era of online learning has also ushered in a rise in academic dishonesty and cheating.

For college students who are already overwhelmed due to pressures such as finances, jobs, family, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the temptation to take the easy way out and cheat on exams can be strong. 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.” In 2020, with more classes and tests remote and online, that number is likely increasing.

How Technology Enables Cheating

Cheating has not only been a problem in the United States but internationally as well. At the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, instructors in the math department recently relied on about 1,000 first-year students to adhere to the honor system during final exams administered online. But with cheating on the rise, what happened next should have been no surprise.

“Within the first half-hour of the exam, basically every question was answered on Chegg,” says Elyse Yeager, University of British Columbia professor. Chegg is a company that began as a textbook marketplace and evolved into a service offering “24/7 homework help. How does it work? When taking an exam, a student can send a photo of a question to Chegg, and within minutes, the service will send the answer via cell phone.

Chegg and similar services are now at the forefront of a new digital battle over academic dishonesty, which has become harder to manage amid the pandemic. “Schools and colleagues of mine have been reporting consistently, not only in Canada but across the globe, that academic misconduct has skyrocketed,” says Sarah Eaton, University of Calgary associate professor.

On the flip side, teachers are also using technology to catch cheaters. Websites like Grammarly and specialize in helping teachers identify 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? 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 – often permanently. Additionally, it is possible for cheating to result in legal action such as fines.

Accused of Cheating? An Attorney Can Help

If you have been accused of cheating, 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.

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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