Like so many other online resources for students, Slader is a study platform and smartphone app designed to “help” students with their homework. Unfortunately, since the website essentially provides answers (with explanations) to textbook assignments in a wide range of subjects, many students have also used it inappropriately on assignments, prompting some schools to ban the use of the platform altogether. One teacher's aide even deliberately posted a false solution on Slader for a math textbook assignment. (At least 21 students took the bait.)
Even for schools that don't expressly forbid it, the use of Slader often results and allegations of cheating and academic dishonesty. Once a high school or college student is accused of cheating, their academic and even professional future hangs in the balance. Schools tend to exact harsh discipline for incidents of academic misconduct, and school disciplinary policies don't always favor the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.” As a result, some students wind up suspended or expelled over a simple misunderstanding about the use of Slader and other learning aids—and the resulting negative marks on their academic record can have a significant impact on their future ability to get a job.
If you have recently been accused of cheating—or if you're a parent with a child accused of cheating—having the help of an attorney-advisor can be critical to obtaining the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended thousands of students as an attorney advisor against unfair cheating allegations.
Is Using Slader Really Cheating?
Many online study resources can be helpful to students, but schools express concerns that many of these platforms can be misused. The general idea behind Slader is not unlike the scenario of a student getting individual help from a peer, study group, or teacher when struggling with an assignment. By giving step-by-step solutions to certain problems (especially in math), the student presumably gains a better understanding of how to solve other problems.
The “slippery slope” with Slader is that with all textbook answers readily available online, the temptation is too great for students simply to copy the answers without coming up with them on their own. For this reason, many schools hold the use of Slader with even more suspicion than other platforms like Chegg. Even if some students use it sparingly to deepen their understanding of the material or to check their work, it's far too easy just to copy homework assignments.
Thus, generally speaking, using Slader is considered cheating if:
- The school or instructor expressly forbids using it;
- The student copies a significant number of answers; or
- The student uses it in any other way the school deems appropriate.
Is It Ever Okay to Use Slader?
The answer to that question ultimately depends on a) the student's intention and b) the school's or professor's stated policy on the use of Slader, if there is one. Because most schools are quite sensitive about Slader in particular, students should always try to find out the school's (or instructor's) policies on Slader before using it. Otherwise, students might inadvertently cross a line and find themselves accused of cheating.
For schools that permit it, using Slader is not considered cheating if:
- The student uses it only in accordance with the guidelines given by the school or instructor
- The student uses it to spot-check problem areas only (not copying answers outright)
- Homework assignments in the course do not count toward the student's grade. (Some classes use homework only as study. If homework assignments aren't graded, you aren't technically inflating your grade by using Slader.)
How Can You Get Accused of Cheating with Slader?
Students often assume they can't get caught cheating by using online resources, but as the TA mentioned earlier demonstrated, teachers are getting creative about detecting when their students are using Slader. More to the point, whether or not you use this or other online platforms, a teacher doesn't have to prove you used them to accuse you of cheating—he/she only needs to suspect you. To that end, even the act of looking at your phone in class could be grounds for an accusation if you happen to have the Slader app on your phone! Furthermore, since school disciplinary hearings aren't courts of law, they don't have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you cheated. In fact, many schools use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means they can hold you accountable if the evidence suggests there's a greater than 50 percent chance that you are guilty. As you can tell, that leaves a lot of room for students to be punished for simple misunderstandings, circumstantial evidence, or even honest mistakes.
If You Have Been Accused of Cheating
If you or your child has been accused of cheating in college or high school, attempting to face the disciplinary process alone could be a serious mistake. Schools are under constant pressure to maintain appearances and remain above reproach, so they often default to administering punishment, especially for accusations of cheating. Since most students and their parents aren't fully aware of school policies and procedures, they come into the process at a disadvantage from the start.
To ensure your student has every opportunity to defend against false accusations, you need an experienced attorney advisor to help with the case. The advisor will help the student navigate the sometimes complicated investigation and hearing process, gather evidence and witnesses, if necessary, and generally provide a layer of accountability for the school to honor its own policies. In many cases, the presence of an attorney-advisor can save the student from serious disciplinary actions and negative notations on their record—potentially rescuing their career prospects in the process.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a nationally renowned expert in student defense cases. He has helped thousands of students fight unfair charges of cheating and other school-related issues. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss the details of your case and see how we can help.