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Reporting Academic Dishonesty ‘20-’21: University Trends or Legislative Blunders?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

Accusations of academic dishonesty are coming hot in fast on the heels of COVID-19's transition to online learning. However, the behaviors that universities now rank among academic misconduct are nebulous. Biased online software and misinterpretations of students' behavior have led many universities to discredit their students' hard work without considering other influencing factors.

COVID-19 and the Challenges of Online Education

It is impossible to discount the challenges that have come with the past two years of online learning. One such challenge lies with universities' understanding – and assessment of – student misconduct. According to NPR, Virginia Commonwealth University notes that its claims of academic misconduct have tripled, where the University of Georgia's reports doubled. Much the same trend appears on the Ohio State campus, not to mention other campuses throughout the Big Ten and beyond.

Collaboration Versus Cheating: Addressing University Policies

What behaviors, though, are universities considering dishonest, especially in light of the transition to remote classes? Thus far, the use of smart speakers and other home aid devices has caught universities' attention. The use of GroupMe in the midst of exams and similar instances of collaboration has also resulted in large-scale accusations of misconduct at California State University, Los Angeles.

This drive to collaborate is on the rise at the same time as professors' interest in the open-note exam. With remote classes being less supervised than those in-person, some students are interpreting “open-note” allowances to include their use of the Internet.

Lack of clarification on a professor's part can contribute to this point of contention. So too, though, can the lack of university specificities for online behavior. While many universities are still reeling from the abrupt shift onto online coursework, the speed with which they have labeled previously unnoted behaviors as “cheating” reveals a distinct urge to direct attention away from their own shortcomings.

Student Misconduct: Pre-Existing Trend or Software Bias?

There is also a chance, according to experts, that the amount of cheating seen at the university level has actually stayed the same throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. New proctoring software may just be revealing a practice that has long been at hand.

Positions about the third-party software, Honorlock, and its peers, vary among students and staff alike. Many students believe that this software violates their personal privacy, where professors find it a necessary evil to limit academic misconduct. However, the inherent bias built into these kinds of software, as noted by students at Miami University in Ohio, still creates a false body of data regarding students' academic morality.

Contesting Allegations of Cheating in the Midst of the Pandemic

Universities facing the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic are struggling to maintain both their public-facing reputations and their inner sense of control. When students have access not only to their textbooks but also cellphones without professor supervision, university staff may feel as though they have to crack down on perceived honor code violations to preserve a sense of their own authority.

Contending with accusations of academic misconduct on top of the limitations of remote learning puts students in a tough position. No student, however, has to address these kinds of allegations on their own. Instead, any student accused of remote cheating, collaboration, or other academic code violations can fight against said allegations with help from an attorney-advisor.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have defended countless students across the United States falsely accused of misconduct for more than a decade. If you or your fellow students wish to discuss allegations of remote cheating or other code of conduct violations, contact the the Lento Law Firm team. Reach out via (888) 535-3686 or the Firm's online form to schedule your consultation.

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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