Don't Get Caught: How Universities Track Down Cheaters

Cheating has become so rampant among students that some universities are holding conferences to determine the best way to catch and punish cheaters. Read on to find out what methods they're using.

Cheater

There are so many studies out there offering estimates of how many college students cheat that it is almost impossible to pinpoint an exact number. The findings in most studies indicate the average is between 50% and 75%.*

Plagiarism

The Internet has made it easier than ever for students to plagiarize essays and other academic papers. To address what is becoming a critical issue, professors and universities have stepped up their efforts to track down students who plagiarize. The three most common methods they use include:

Search Engine Checks

Professors often use Google or another search engine to determine whether or not a student has plagiarized content from the Internet. Students who copy and paste entire blocks of text from online encyclopedias and other types of websites often get caught this way.

Plagiarism Websites

Websites like Copyscape.com, Turnitin.com and PlagiarismChecker.com are favorites of professors who want to check sentences, phrases and whole documents. These sites compare what the professor enters with papers that are online and in the sites' databases. Students who copy and paste or download entire papers from free or low-cost essay generation sites typically get caught with this popular method.

Plagiarism Detection Software

Universities have also begun to purchase or subscribe to plagiarism detection software services. This software can check to see if a student plagiarized content from course to course or semester to semester. Students who 'borrow' papers from themselves or other students are most vulnerable to this method of tracking down cheaters.

Sharing Answers

Universities are becoming savvy to the different ways students share homework and test answers with themselves and other people. Things that professors now monitor include:

Facebook and Other Social Networking Sites

Facebook, MySpace and similar sites were started for college students who want to network online. Some students use the sites to begin virtual study groups. Although this sounds perfectly innocent, it may be against some schools' policies. A student in Canada was recently accused of cheating because he began a Facebook study group for his chemistry class. The student's chemistry professor found the study group online and changed the student's grade from a B to an F.

Tech Devices

Students frequently use technology to their advantage when taking tests. Storing information on an iPod or a calculator is not uncommon. Students also use cell phones and text messaging to seek out answers from friends who are outside the classroom. Professors have a good handle on all of the trends and watch for students who pull out devices or take too many bathroom breaks during a test.

Other Counter Cheating Methods

There are lots of different ways to cheat and just as many measures put in place to discourage and catch cheaters. Some of these measures include:

The Honor Code

Most universities have a strict honor code that prohibits cheating. Honor codes vary by universities. Some call for immediate expulsion of the student caught cheating. Others are meant to be nothing more than an extra tool meant to make students feel guilty. Students who attend a school with an honor code should be aware that most professors live by their school's code and will most likely report any student who violates it.

Pass/Fail

It is hard to catch students cheating in a distance learning course, which is why a lot of universities with online programs have adopted a pass/fail policy when it comes to quizzes and tests. The idea is that if students are not graded, they will be less likely to cheat. Some online schools also track the amount of time it takes students to complete test questions so that students can't look up answers or get help from outside sources.


*Nonis and Swift (1998), Park (2003), Kidwell et al. (2003), Chapman et al. (2004), CollegeHumor.com (2007)

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Concordia University Portland

    Concordia University Portland responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Concordia University Portland:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Seton Hall University

    Seton Hall University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Seton Hall University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Tulane University

    Tulane University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Tulane University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. Next »