By Itzel Quintana
From writing answers onto the face of a broken watch, to paying strangers to write papers for them, students are finding inventive new ways to cheat. But they’re not fooling instructors.
About 75 percent of college students admitted to cheating at least once according to a survey conducted by a doctoral student at Columbia University in 1963. More than 50 years later, the figures have dropped, but cheaters are becoming more imaginative.
About 40 percent of students admitted to cheating by using digital and online tools, according to a study by Concordia University in Wisconsin.
“In English classes you get to know how a student writes. Once they start writing like a New York Times reporter you know something isn’t adding up because most students are just not at that level yet,” Shelly Jaffray, dean of humanities and social sciences said.
Cheating methods vary by department and class.
The most common forms of cheating Jaffray comes across are plagiarism and failing to paraphrase properly.
“I would ask them to explain something they wrote or define a word they used and when they couldn’t that’s usually when they would admit they had cheated,” Jaffray said.
Some instructors make their classes nearly impossible to cheat through.
Math instructor George Sweeney explained that he makes his classes cheat-proof by getting to know the ways his students work.
“The more conceptual the class is, the less likely it is to get students cheating,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney’s tests require students to find a solution to a problem, then explain the methodology.
Sweeney doesn’t let students get away with just knowing the answer, and also expects them to demonstrate an understanding of the material on tests and assignments.
Aside from making homework and exams cheat-proof, Sweeney checks the correlation between student scores on final exams and homework assignments.
Still, some students resort to old-fashioned forms of cheating.
“I’ve seen students throw a crumpled piece of paper on the floor during a test so another student can pick it up and get answers,” SAC student Allen Ibale said.
Because this cheating method is so discreet, teachers don’t notice it while it is happening, Ibale said.
“It’s not fair, but those students aren’t gaining anything from cheating because they aren’t really learning anything,” Ibale said.
Instructors and honest students agree cheating is a waste of time.
“I don’t understand why they don’t put the same amount of energy into doing the work,” Jaffray said.