Implementing and embracing remote or virtual learning is proving to be difficult for colleges and universities all over the continent.
‘Going virtual' invites many different types of issues, from snags in the onboarding process to the technical nature of embracing a more internet-based learning platform. This new normal for the academic world presents steep challenges for everyone involved.
One effect that this quick, mass pivot to online studies has had regards perceived student conduct. As more colleges and students shift to remote learning models, the rates of academic misconduct have spiked and skyrocketed.
University of Manitoba's Academic Misconduct Rates Spike Disconcertingly
New data coming out of the University of Manitoba shows that allegations of cheating rose seven-fold over the course of the 2019-2020 academic years.
Their latest annual disciplinary report discusses the instances of academic misconduct as well as other inappropriate student behavior. When university officials compared the data to the dates the school had initiated remote learning, the correlation became clear. In the year prior to promoting virtual coursework, the university had received some 706 allegations of misconduct. The year that students shifted to learning online, the school received 1,137 allegations.
The allegations covered a wide variety of types of misconduct, including plagiarism, duplicate submission, cheating, and fraud. The committee reviewing this data did note that it seemed instances of non-academic misconduct have become less common, while cheating has been on the rise.
The Challenges Facing Today's Students in a Remote-Learning Era
When you think about the specific ways that students learn virtually, however, it might become clear why it seems that students have been cheating more. For example:
- In at least one instance, students faced allegations of cheating because several students took online exams from a single device, as identified by a common IP address. This could signify collaboration; however, it could also simply represent a shared device.
- Other allegations have sought to demonstrate that students cheated because they communicated during their exams or had access to unauthorized material. In remote learning circumstances, it can be challenging to show that these acts constituted cheating. (Perhaps the communication was an accident, an emergency, or had nothing to do with the subject matter; perhaps the student clicked on a link in an online learning portal that shouldn't have been active.) On the other hand, showing that these actions were innocent can be equally difficult.
Some teachers at the University of Manitoba are brainstorming measures they can take to prevent cheating methods—and reduce opportunities for allegations of misconduct, or ways students can accidentally find themselves in a tough situation. These solutions include fewer multiple-choice questions, pre-quiz academic integrity assessments, and making sure the terms and conditions surrounding online exams are crystal-clear.
However, that might not be enough.
Representatives of the university also note that students are experiencing COVID-19 uncertainty, increased student fees, and mental health concerns. If you're a student working hard to adapt to virtual learning, you're struggling. You're spending a lot of your time adapting to circumstances beyond your control. The last thing you need is an allegation of academic misconduct while you're trying to navigate the challenges of modern education.
If you need assistance fighting for your education and your future, contact Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.