Discover more from The Cheat Sheet
"Try to Cheat Regularly"
Plus, more evidence of massive cheating in the U.K. Plus, selling exam scores in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. Plus, a note on Chegg.
More Plead Guilty to Buying Certification Exam Results from Coast Guard
With recent cheating humiliations at West Point (see Issue 20) and the U.S. Air Force Academy (see Issue 4), this one involving the U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marines is different. Instead of cheating on tests and assignments, prosecutors in Louisiana say as many as 31 people straight up paid for passing grades on certification exams.
According to local reporting, a federal prosecutor said:
26 of 31 defendants have pleaded guilty in what prosecutors describe as a bribery scheme that ran from 2012 to 2019.
Fees for fake grades and certifications ran into a few thousand dollars and:
Among the fraudulent endorsements the defendants received were for senior positions such as master, chief mate and chief engineer
U.K. is Reckoning with Scale, Commonplace of Cheating
The Telegraph has a really important piece on cheating in the U.K. Nominally, it’s about “entire houses” - which are sort of like campus housing complexes in the U.S. - engaging in cheating. But it’s worth reading for the quotes.
Here’s one, from Dr Daniel Sokol, a barrister,
Clients tell us that collusion is so rife that it has become normalised, not colluding is the exception.
Some feel aggrieved that they have been caught and punished when most of their year has done exactly the same thing without penalty.
Experts in U.K. are not confused at all about what’s happening or why. From the article:
The shift from exam halls to virtual assessments during the coronavirus crisis has seen rising numbers of students accused of malpractice, facing expulsion or having to repeat the year, experts say.
Forced to sit exams in their bedrooms, some students are sharing questions with their housemates, by photographing answers and copying them, or taking it in turns to complete sections of the paper.
University leaders have been accused of “sticking their heads in the sand” over the collusion problem, with most undergraduates having been taught online for the past year.
Some tests use proctoring software that monitor eye and body movements, and require a 360 degree scan of the bedroom, but institutions have been reluctant to impose draconian measures that invade privacy.
Personally, I am not sure when anyone expected “privacy” during an academic exam. Nonetheless, what you get from “reluctance” to proctor exams is cheating, lots of cheating. Quoting Sokol again,
This is now a major problem that has reached endemic proportions. I had one student who said the degree is worthless …
A Note on Chegg’s “Honor Shield”
If you’ll indulge me, I have a quick thought on Chegg, which is probably the biggest and best known cheating profiteer.
I’m not the first to point out that there’s one very easy thing Chegg could do to curtail the cheating services students buy from them - simply require subscribers to use the student e-mail address provided by the institution. Such a move would dramatically limit cheating because cheaters aren’t likely to cheat if they have to use their real names - if identifying them was really, really easy.
It should be something Chegg would want to do. After all, if Chegg really provides the legitimate educational service they claim, their customer-students would have no hesitation using an institutional e-mail address to access Chegg’s “help.”
Having raised this issue with Chegg, they’ve said - more or less - that such a change is implausible because of non-standard educational e-mail addresses around the world - that not all schools use a .edu format, for example. It’s hard to imagine that a company worth something like $12 billion is flummoxed by non-standard official e-mail addresses.
Even so, here’s the thing.
It’s about Chegg’s “Honor Shield” - the feature that lets teachers or school administrators upload test questions before an exam so Chegg can block them during the test. The company talks about it often, presenting it as evidence that they take cheating seriously.
That “Honor Shield” - to use it, to get Chegg to block exam questions during the test - the professor has to use a verified university e-mail address. It literally says, “Create account - Use your faculty .edu email to get started.” Seriously, go look.
In other words, when it comes to actually blocking cheating, Chegg can somehow navigate the complexity of non-standard university domain formats. To stop cheating, Chegg needs a legit school e-mail address. Potential cheaters can use any e-mail they want, which must be pretty handy.
Maybe it’s just me but it seems clear that Chegg could require an institutional e-mail address for students, as they already do for teachers. But they don’t. That says everything.
Try to Cheat Regularly
This is more comical than anything, I confess. But an outlet I’ve never heard of - The Washington Independent - ran an article titled, “10 Life hacks how to cheat on an exam.”
The piece has great advice such as “write notes on your legs” - especially if you’re a girl - and “use your phone” and “try to cheat regularly.” The article is supposedly written by someone named Rian Mcconnell who, despite his laughable bio, probably is not real.
Instead, the article looks like a foreign language spin up or cheap, pulp writing from an essay mill. E.g., “Ask your classmate for helping.” Links at the bottom of the article go to two “free” essay websites. I didn’t click. You shouldn’t either.
Nonetheless, it’s a good example of the kind of marketing that cheating providers use - the thin cover or legitimacy and the normalization of misconduct. Not to mention, it’s pretty funny.
Reminder, “The Cheat Sheet” is on vacation next week so the next one will be out around July 12. Please try to temper your disappointment. As always though, if you have news, notes, tips or suggestions, e-mail me: Derek@NovemberGroup.net
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