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Do These 6 Things To Reduce Cheating This Semester

In previous posts we have discussed the complex issue of academic integrity due to the environment created by online cheating websites and so-called tutoring services available on the web. These elements have made it much easier for students to find answers online, and pose a threat to authentic assessment in the classroom.

While we have touched on effective ways for instructors to reduce cheating in the classroom, we have focused on addressing cheating online and have discussed applications specifically for online homework. In this post, we will provide a list of research-based strategies to reduce cheating that you can implement this semester.

1. Establish an Honor Code - Experiments have shown a significant reduction in cheating behaviors when students are aware of, and agree to, an Honor Code. The key to this strategy is to regularly remind students of this agreement throughout the semester. You can find creative ways to reintroduce the honor code, such as putting it at the top of assignments or exams, in the syllabus, or weekly reminders through an LMS. See Dan Ariely’s TED Talk for more on Honor Codes.


2. Encourage Honesty - The role of peer groups can have a tremendous impact on whether a student decides to engage in cheating behavior, or influence perceptions on what is considered academic dishonesty. Clearly define behaviors that are expected and that are unacceptable, especially when students will be working in groups. Clearly communicate these expectations consistently throughout the class. Peer disapproval of cheating may also have a strong impact on reducing academic dishonesty, so use it to your advantage.


3. Personalize Learning - Having limited contact with a faculty member can make engaging in cheating more justifiable for students. The UNCC Center for Teaching and Learning offers advice for making these connections, even with large class sizes.


4. Assess Often - Utilizing more formative assessments, like homework, quizzes, etc. can lead to better student performance, but growing evidence suggests that students may benefit from more summative assessments as well. Consider increasing the number of exams to reduce cheating on other assignments.


5. Utilize Technology - Plagiarism detection software can not only detect when students have cheated, but it may also help to identify specific misconceptions that lead to plagiarism. Programs like TurnItIn don’t have to be merely punitive tools, they have the ability to point out conceptual errors held by students and help them to remediate their practices to reduce cheating.


6. Ease Student Anxiety - In Academic Dishonesty: An Educator’s Guide, Bernard Whitley, Jr. and Patricia Keith-Spiegel offer great advice on fostering an environment conducive to academic integrity. In addition to some of the strategies in this list, they also suggest that working to reduce stress on students is beneficial because alleviating the pressure to perform at a high level can lessen the temptation to cheat. 

Cheating will continue to be a problem threatening authentic assessment, and is becoming increasingly complex as the world becomes more connected. There are, however, many effective strategies teachers can employ to reduce academic dishonesty both online or off. The techniques and suggestions presented here can help to create a culture of honesty, and remind students of expectations and guidelines related to cheating.

Are you wondering about how to prevent students from finding answers online? Read more about specific strategies for online homework.

See Top Online Homework Strategies