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Survey: Cheating More Common in Online Classes
Plus, a recent Stanford grad: "I cheated." Plus, a professor drops out of Course Hero Summit.
College Students: Cheating is Common Online, More Common Than in In Person Classes
A new, pretty large survey of college students was released this week, sampling some 2,000 students across 108 different institutions in late May. The survey is from Inside Higher Ed, College Pulse and Kaplan.
Overall, the results were both interesting and not surprising. Interesting in that the survey designers asked about cheating in online classes. Not surprising in that they found plenty.
The survey asked college students two cheating questions. The first was:
To your knowledge, how prevalent is cheating in the online courses you are taking?
Extremely common: 21%
Somewhat common: 26%
Somewhat uncommon: 10%
Extremely uncommon: 6%
Not sure: 35%
So, a sizeable plurality of college students - nearly a majority - say cheating in their online classes is common. Only 6% said it’s “extremely uncommon.”
If you remove the portion of respondents who could not say one way or another, nearly three-quarters (74.6%) of those who offered an answer said cheating was common in their online classes. Not online classes in general, “in the online courses you are taking.”
An even better question, the survey asked:
Compared to when classes were primarily held in person, is cheating:
More common: 38%
Less common: 10%
About the same: 13%
Not sure: 38%
That’s not good. Not surprising, but still not good.
Again, if you take out the “not sure” answers, a blistering 61% of students who had an opinion said cheating is more common in online classes.
I know reasonable people disagree on this point but the recent evidence linking online classes and elevated cheating, this included, is overwhelming.
Good for the survey folks for asking these questions.
Recent Stanford Grad: “I ‘cheated’ many times”
The Stanford Daily, the student paper at Stanford University, published a guest opinion piece with direct headline, “I ‘cheated’ many times at Stanford. Here are some lessons.”
Mostly, the grad says they cheated on homework and class assignments, copying answers and work from others. They were never caught.
It’s an insightful article in that it calls out Stanford’s weak efforts at education and enforcement around misconduct but still is clear that the student knew their conduct was wrong. The lack of clarity and concern rationalized cheating, the student says. Here’s an example:
Stanford’s policies, the lack of education surrounding them and the inconsistency of their enforcement posed a problem. In the courses where I had the most issues, collaboration on homework was encouraged. An example of a policy one instructor gave was “You may collaborate with fellow students, but each of you should turn in your own submission.” What does this even mean, practically? As a sophomore, I was able to twist this language into implying it was okay to copy friends’ work, as I was only really cheating myself. Looking at it again as I type this, I’m still convinced that’s the case given the specific wording of the policy.
The whole piece is worth a read and offers some good advice. Here’s another snip:
When a system is faulty, it encourages faulty actions among the individuals operating within that system. Stanford’s Honor Code system is without a doubt faulty, and it’s hurting the student body.
I won’t crib more of it - but you should go read it. It’s good.
A Barnard College Faculty Member Drops Out of Course Hero Summit
That upcoming “Summit” from cheating company Course Hero had, until a few days ago, featured a faculty member from Barnard College.
The Barnard Honor Code says, “class content — from lectures, labs, seminars, office hours and discussion groups” – “should not be distributed or shared outside of class.” That is exactly what Course Hero does. It profits from the sharing of class content.
That pretty specific prohibition has not stopped Course Hero from hosting some 3,900 documents from 72 Barnard departments on its site, according to a recent search. But it may have made the appearance of a Barnard faculty member with Course Hero a bit awkward.
I asked the faculty member for a comment about the Honor Code and standing with Course Hero. They never replied. But their name disappeared from the speaker list and the company confirmed they dropped out. Course Hero said that the speaker, “had a personal emergency come up and is no longer available to speak.”
Asked whether Course Hero was paying their speakers generally, the company said they “don’t disclose the details of specific speaking partnerships, I can confirm that we pay speakers according to their respective speaking policies, as is typical for industry events.”
So, that’s a yes. I don’t know whether that makes it better or worse.
The Course Hero spokesperson also said that, “It's important to note that speakers of this event are not endorsing Course Hero.”
That’s a matter of opinion. Mine is that by appearing on the company’s website, speaking at a company event, perhaps accepting fees for doing so, participants are absolutely endorsing Course Hero, giving it a sheen of academic credibility and sanction. And that’s a shame, which I mean literally.
In the next “The Cheat Sheet” - getting into the recent European conference on academic integrity. Plus, is cheating so bad that some countries are really turning off their Internet to stop it?
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