Cheating and Plagiarism in Online School
With more schools moving online, students are becoming more adept at cheating and plagiarizing their work. Discover the newest ways that students are cheating and learn what educators and administrators can do to be aware of and prevent cheating in their online classrooms and schools.
Last Updated: 02/06/2022
For schools with robust online programs prior to COVID-19, instruction was just as challenging and valuable as face-to-face instruction. These schools are typically aware of the ways in which students cheat, and have a number of tried and true methods to combat it. But for the educators, administrators, and learners still getting the hang of distance education, cheating can be a significant problem.
With online learning set to be a larger part of K-12 and college education for the 2020-2021 school year, it’s important for teachers and administrators to educate themselves on warning signs, and to develop policies for dealing with academic dishonesty. Use this guide to learn how online students are cheating, learn about tools and methods to spot and combat online cheating, and get the inside scoop on teacher- and school-based consequences.
How Students Are Cheating…and How Teachers Are Preventing It
Students may engage in several different types of cheating and plagiarism depending on the subject area and type of assignment. Fortunately, teachers are often able to spot and stop this type of behavior. We take a look at some common forms of academic dishonesty below.
Is It Cheating? What Do You Think?
You completed a comprehensive project earlier in your school career that got a good grade. You are now taking a different class and some of what you produced for that earlier project fits with the new one. You decide to use it.
You were really struggling in a class at the start of the semester and asked for help on some test questions from one of your classmates. In the end, you decided to drop the course so it doesn’t really matter that you did that.
While taking an online test, one of your classmates asks if you want to screenshare so you can compare answers and see if you’re coming up with the same ones. Or, you send screenshots back and forth during the exam.
The test your professor gave you wasn’t strictly labeled as an open book exam, but they didn’t say you couldn’t. You decide to use the book to look up answers as you go through the questions and end up using information you find in the textbook.
You had every intention to study for you accounting exam but then something came up and you couldn’t. Your older sister is an accountant and she agrees to sit with you while you take the test to make sure you don’t make any stupid mistakes.
You came up with a great paper topic and found tons of great research, but there’s one piece of data you just can’t seem to find. Because it’s only a small part of the paper, you decide to create a statistic that fits with your thesis.
You were talking to this student the other day who took the same class you’re in now last semester. He mentions he has some of his old tests still and says he can share them with you, just to give you a sense of what to expect on the next exam.
You’re currently researching for a paper due next week and found an online essay where this student essentially has the same argument you were planning to use. You decide to use their sources but reword the paper so it sounds more like your writing voice.
You’re required to take this class to graduate but it has nothing to do with your career aspirations and you know you’ll never use anything you learn from it in the future. Your roommate offers to help you structure the paper and ends up writing some of it for you.
You found a great piece of research for your essay assignment that really ties the paper together. You can remember what it said but for the life of you cannot find where it is located. You add in a citation for a similar fact rather than finding the actual source again.
Consequences of Cheating and Plagiarism
Engaging in cheating and/or plagiarism often comes with both teacher- and school-based consequences. Understanding what these consequences entail can help students see that it’s simply not worth it to jeopardize both their academic and professional futures.
Cheating & Plagiarism Resources
For Teachers and Administrators
Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Student Cheat More in Online Courses? This academic study of online cheating is provided by the University of West Georgia’s Distance Education Center.
Deterring Cheating in Online Education Check out these tips given by Pearson Education.
Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation Carnegie Mellon University provides a wealth of resources to students and teachers concerned with cheating.
Guidelines Addressing Cheating and Plagiarism The College of San Mateo offers information on both instructor and student responsibilities.
Guidelines to Reduce the Risk of Cheating in Online Examinations George Washington University looks at modes of cheating and offers ideas for reducing each.
Honor Pledge Many schools now use honor pledges to discourage cheating. Check out the University of Maryland’s to get inspiration.
Making Tests and Quizzes More Cheat-proof Trent University offers actionable advice for teachers looking to avoid issues of cheating.
Paranoia About Cheating is Making Online Education Terrible for Everyone Vox’s Recode vertical takes a look at cheating in online education.
Plagiarism in Online Courses Professors can find resources galore in this guide created by Florida International University.
Tips for Preventing Online Cheating Use these ideas listed by Northern Illinois University.
4 Ways to Avoid the Temptation to Cheat on Your Next ExamIf you feel pressure to cheat, check out these tips for getting good grades on merit.
Harvard Guide to Using SourcesHarvard University offers comprehensive information on properly citing sources.
How to Avoid Plagiarism In 5 Easy Steps Steelman Library provides this helpful YouTube video specifically designed for students.
How to Check Your Work for Plagiarism Grammarly offers a plagiarism checker to help you avoid costly mistakes.
How Will Cheating in School Affect the Rest of Your Life? Is it really worth it to cheat when you know how it can hurt you professionally and academically?
Plagiarism.org This comprehensive website seeks to educate students on plagiarism and help them understand what not to do.
Success Tips & Avoiding Cheating California State University at San Marcos offers actionable advice to ensure you don’t cheat.
Think Twice Before Cheating in Online Courses This U.S. News report uncovers some of the consequences of cheating.
Types of Academic Dishonesty St. Petersburg College takes a look at the many different ways a student can be academically dishonest.
Writing Centers Always rely on your school’s writing center if concerned about citations or issues of plagiarism. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides an example of what to look for.