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Cheating February 25, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Assessment, Online Tools, Students.

cheater  On Friday, one of our departments had graduating students take their final Comprehensive Examinations. Gone are the days when they would be scratched out on paper. I brought in five laptops for the writers. The department Admin brought in fresh diskettes but was surprised when I told her most laptops these days do not have floppy drives.

There were several solutions to her dilemma which I proceeded to tick off. The one that worked best for her, though, was to bring down a portable floppy drive so she could transfer each completed examination to its own disk. I have stopped questioning my Administrative colleagues and have learned to become satisfied with the idea that if it works for them I won’t press for other ways of accomplishing the same task.

As I set up the laptops I disengaged the wireless function so the students could not get online to research the answers to the questions. Access to the Internet has become an issue with examination proctors. In a nearby college, one candidate discovered he had access to the Internet during his comprehensive examination and then entered the entire question into the Google search engine. He downloaded several articles and even e-mailed a colleague for some feedback. And even though floppy diskettes were not allowed, he managed to slip in a thumb drive with notes on it.

This is not just hearsay. What the student failed to realize was every time he got online he was leaving behind a history of links visited and the times he visited them. Every search he entered into Google was stored in its entirety. Every site visited was recorded. When he trashed the PDF files he retrieved online, there was still a record of it. When he inserted his g:\ drive into the computer, there was a record of it in Word. When he called up Yahoo to check his mail, he left his address behind.

There are tools available to clean your tracks and you can do a decent job even without fancy software. But there is no replacing good common sense and hard work. Despite a detailed chronology of computer activity that was constructed based on this person’s cheating, he still sought an academic appeal. The gun was smoking and the knife still dripping. There were witnesses, photographs, video surveillance, and a self confession but he still sought an appeal.

Hope springs eternal.



1. Jenni Puckett - February 28, 2006

As a future teacher, cheating is a big thing I worry about. I worry about how I will handle it when I catch it, I wonder what I will do if others tell on a student who was supposedly cheating, I worry about many things when it comes to the topic of cheating. I know there is a temptation to cheat at certain times, especially if you do not the material, but still cheating should be punished. I guess it is just one of those things that is always a question of who is cheating and all, but a teacher does not want to assume that their students will cheat. However, teachers need to prepare themselves so that the opportunity to cheat is minimal.

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