Technology Serves as a New Source for Students to Cheat

app / The smartphone has replaced the rubber band, pagers and the Palm Pilot, becoming not just a more efficient way to study, but also to cheat. / Photo Illustration by Jose Servin / el Don

The smartphone has replaced the rubber band, pagers and the Palm Pilot, becoming not just a more efficient way to study, but also to cheat. / Photo Illustration by Jose Servin / el Don

By Andrew Mata

Smartphones, computers and websites are now more than just resources for learning, note taking and research.

“I’ve seen plenty of students use their phones on test days and they’ll probably continue to do it because they haven’t gotten caught,” Santa Ana College student Eduardo Varela said.

About 40 percent of students admitted to cheating by using digital and online tools, according to a study by Concordia University in Wisconsin.

“This number doesn’t surprise me, but I don’t think they have the intention to cheat. Students put themselves in a position to cheat by putting off their work,” SAC English Department Chair Matthew Beyersdorf said.

The advent of the Internet allowed students to lift passages or entire papers from the Web. Enterprising entities, such as Cheathouse.com and Schoolsucks.com, act as clearing houses for term papers.

But as schools find their own ways to counter cheating, including using programs like Turnitin.com to root out plagiarism, methods have increasingly become more elaborate.

Some students, taking advantage of the lack of face time in online classes, hire others to take the classes for them.

Onlineclasshelp.com and boostmygrades.com are services that guarantee an A or B-letter grade for their clients.

“In order to prevent people posing as other students we use hybrid classes, with in-class dates. We also use in-class assignments to learn how students write and if they turn something in that doesn’t represent their work, we’ll know,” Beyersdorf said.

In the past, creative students used such techniques as the rubber-band trick. After stretching the band, students fill it with anticipated answers or math and chemistry formulas.

The smartphone has made the practice all but obsolete. Students can take photos of notes, access Wikipedia or their notes through Google Docs.

The problem of students using Photoshop to edit labels and nutritional information on soft drinks to include answers and formulas has prompted professors to ask students to clear desks of everything except a pencil.

“I’ve seen a student do it for a quiz and the teacher had no idea the label had formulas,” SAC student Stephanie Guerrerro said.

At SAC, there are multiple levels of discipline ranging from a zero on the assignment to expulsion for repeat offenders.

“If a student is caught cheating it’ll be put on record for future reference, and if they get caught again they’ll meet with me for their punishment,” Associate Dean of Student Development Rosio Becerra said.

 

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