By Phillip Wankat and Frank Oreovicz
can put an end to cheating by following these simple guidelines.
is a big problem on campus. And it comes in many forms, from peeking
at the answers of a student in the next seat during a test to filching
someone else's work online. Sixty-eight percent of students surveyed
at schools without honor codes voluntarily admitted to serious cheating
at least once during their college career, while 45 percent admitted
to cheating on at least one test, according to a study conducted by
Donald McCabe, president of the Center for Academic Integrity, and Gary
Pavela, who oversees student ethical development at the University of
are that some cheating is going on in your classroom. You might be suspicious
if a student has the correct answer on a test, but the work doesn't
lead to that answer. Or the writing done by a few students suddenly
improves dramatically. Perhaps the clincher is when some of your better
students tell you that it's occurring. We've found that the following
methods can help keep your students honest:
the Engineering Code of Ethics, making clear that future
engineers are expected to behave ethically. Develop a range of penalties
for infractions. A single blanket penalty can't possibly cover every
HonorThe study conducted by McCabe and Pavela found that the percentage
of students cheating on at least one test decreased from 45 to 33 percent
when there was an honor code, and serious cheating declined from 68
to 58 percent. Although any cheating is unacceptable, these are
a reputation for giving fair tests and grading fairly. Some students
use unfair tests as an excuse for cheating. Fair
means giving enough time to take the test and a reasonable grade distribution.
Always write new tests. Open-book tests and tests where students can
bring notes or equation sheets can eliminate some types of cheating.
AnxietyDiscuss test procedures, and make clear what material will
be included. A question and answer session before the test will help
eliminate last minute concerns. Also, handing out old tests to practice
on helps reduce anxiety.
will be less cheating if you are present during the test, particularly
if you know students by name. If you're concerned about certain students
collaborating with others, assign seats for the entire class. Have a
proctor walk around the room or sit in the back. In large classes, be
sure to have help collecting the tests, since this is a favorite time
PlagiarismClearly define it in the syllabus. Having check
points during the semester (e.g., turning in a rough outline including
some references, then a rough draft) reduces plagiarismand the
buying of papers. If students are not allowed to revise papers written
for other classes, be clear that it's forbidden. Many grad students
consider it a matter of efficiency and don't regard it as unethical.
does occur, here are some steps to take, according to lawyer and professor
E. H. Stevens, writing in College Teaching:
check university rules, and decide on a procedure.
notice to the student orally, including charges and potential consequences.
There must be an appeal procedureexplain it to the student. If
potential penalties are mild, hold this meeting privately.
an investigative hearing, which can be done immediately and can be quite
cursory. After listening to the student, decide on a verdict and penalty,
if guilt is determined. This hearing can be done privately if the penalty
is relatively light: for example, a zero on test.
the student requests it, use the university's formal appeal procedure.
Since appeals are not private, students may accept your decision if
they believe the penalty is reasonable.
Wankat is head of interdisciplinary engineering and the Clifton L. Lovell
Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering at Purdue University.
Frank Oreovicz is an education communications specialist at Purdue's
chemical engineering school. They can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.