Gone are the days of students cheating solely by copying someone else’s work or swapping papers with a friend. Today, there are cheating sites and even ghost writers. Bill Loller, Vice President of Product Management for Turnitin, published an article on this very topic.

“Our most pressing problem today is that plagiarism has evolved to the hiring of contract cheating sites or ghost writers for student work or for research, and existing technology cannot detect this. This practice is still theoretically plagiarism but not because another person’s work was copied. The difference is that the original work is created by someone else, which bypasses the plagiarism checking software’s scrutiny. It is also troubling that cheating has moved beyond essays into STEM classes, assignments, and research. We’ve found large numbers of falsified documents in linguistics, copied and ghost-written coding in Computer Science courses, and perhaps even more unsettling, ghost-writing in the health sciences and engineering fields. Imagine a world where an engineer who designed a bridge actually did not complete all of their assigned homework and instead hired someone else to do it for them. This is the type of cheating occurring on campuses in increasing numbers.”- Bill Loller

In Loller’s article, he lists the steps involved in dealing with cheating students as:

  1. The instructor suspects the student has cheated- a technology tool may have identified plagiarism.
  2. The instructor’s suspicion is escalated to a dean or academic misconduct office.
  3. The department dean or academic misconduct office performs an investigation.
  4. The student is then interviewed.
  5. A formal hearing is held with associated sanctions and penalties if appropriate.

A lot of cases go unreported because addressing the misconduct involves so many steps and would take up so much of the instructor’s time. Loller says this is the first mistake in solving the problem. Not only is the student likely to repeat the behavior, but often times he/she will encourage others to cheat, too.

“IT departments, who are responsible for tracking the electronic trail of evidence, need to have the latest technology resources to not only help faculty identify suspicious documents but also to deter the use of cheating sites. And ultimately, giving them a method to produce ironclad evidence for academic misconduct investigations will show students that cheating will not be tolerated and they will get caught.” – Bill Loller

While you can put exemplary leadership, sound instructional design and practices, punitive policies, monitoring, and the latest technology in place to deter cheating, Loller mentions that the human element may still be the most important. Helping students develop their own personal commitment of integrity is still the best way of stopping the cheating that’s taking place on campuses today.

To read, Loller’s article in full, click here.