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Rise in Cheating?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 08, 2021 | 0 Comments

In the most recent semester at the University of California--Berkeley, currently ranked  #4 in Best Global Universities, administrators report a 400% rise in allegations of cheating from the same time a year before. The prevalence of cheating should be no surprise to college faculty: The International Center for Academic Integrity reports that 68% of undergraduates surveyed “admit[ted] written or test cheating.”  While it does strain belief to think the rate of cheating could be even higher than two-thirds of all college students, the temptation is nearly irresistible when it comes to cheating detection apps using mostly human-free solutions.

Confirmation Bias

Is there really more cheating? Or are cheating detection software companies just confirming what college administrators expect to see? Or is it that cheating is being reported more often, meaning an increase in reporting rates, not in cheating itself. A 2007 study in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning showed that 82.9% of faculty found “it was difficult to compile evidence or proof of misconduct.” Because of the difficulty and time required, some instructors are loath to formally report allegations to the institution. With the shift from in-person to online learning has come a corresponding rise in the use of cheating detection software. This software streamlines the reporting process, from pages of forms and hours of compiling evidence to the press of a button, making it that much easier to formally allege misconduct. The same software makes it much easier for college administrators to review how instructors handle automated reports of suspected cheating. In turn, this might be incentivizing reporting by faculty.

Lack of Evidence

When accused of a first-time offense, instructors may choose to handle the incident themselves, awarding an F on the assignment or requiring a re-do with an automatic letter-grade (or two) drop on the new submission. This may seem an easy way to cope with an accusation and carry on without establishing an institutional record of academic misconduct. Much like agreeing to plead guilty for a lighter sentence, an innocent student might be tempted to take the deal. Also, teachers talk. If accused again, the consequences from another instructor, already prejudiced, might be worse. Inconsistent policies at the instructor level mean unfair application and loss of due process. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls for a centralized reporting system to enforce a consistent standard across the institution.

But a study in Plagiary reports that “Anxious faculty were more likely to deal with situations on an informal basis … related to the belief that there was not enough evidence to report situations.

When students are accused of cheating, it's important to ask questions and not to answer them:

  • What, exactly, is the accusation?
  • What is the evidence?
  • What testing platform was in use, and how was that platform configured?
  • What is the adjudication process?
  • What is the institution's academic misconduct policy?

You need an attorney-advisor that will ensure you are treated fairly. Joseph D. Lento specializes in bringing institutions to the table to give students due process and not take shortcuts. The Lento Law Firm protects students from outdated policies and over-reaching administrators. Suspension and expulsion can last a lifetime, and even lesser consequences can derail a student's academic and career goals. Background checks in regulated professions can uncover school records of cheating in addition to the standard questions that almost all graduate schools will ask regarding whether an applicant has a school disciplinary history. Protect your record and your rights by calling the Lento Law Firm 888-535-3686 now.

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. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. 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 has 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 school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.

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