Students who cheat used to scribble crib notes on slips of paper, or on their hand, but with the rise of mobile technology, cheaters have become very savvy in their tactics. This guide developed by educators and based on real-life experiences exposes some of the new ways in which students attempt to cheat--as well as some old school techniques--that will help keep your students honest. Each cheat is followed by practical advice for how to combat the specific tactic.
Guide to Cheating
“I would prefer even to fail with
honor than win by cheating.”
Beware the Bathroom
The Cheat: Students leave course materials
in the bathroom as a reference for individuals
or a group.
BUSTED! This cheat is surprisingly prevalent
and can involve mobile devices. The easiest way
to bust this cheat is to limit bathroom breaks and
require students to leave their mobile device with
you prior to leaving the classroom.
Beware the Mobile Device
The Cheat: Students receive answers
to exam questions on their mobile
device (perhaps someone is texting
from the bathroom!)
BUSTED! Many instructors have banned
devices on exam days.
Beware the Innocent
Looking Piece of Scrap Paper
The Cheat: This is an oldie, but a goodie.
The scrap of paper may contain answers.
BUSTED! Be aware of what students have in front
of them during exams. Get up and walk around as
students are taking the exam. Paper is a necessary
part of most exams, but if something looks fishy,
investigate further, or as one instructor suggested,
you provide the paper.
Beware the Browser
The Cheat: google.com
BUSTED! Lock down the browser so
that no other windows can be opened
during the exam. Ask your IT coordinator
how to do this if you are unsure about
how to implement.
Beware the Burglar
The Cheat: Sneak into professor’s office
and steal the exam.
BUSTED! Yes, this still happens! But, a
move to online exams with question pools
and algorithmic questions will thwart any
potential breaking and entering.
Beware the Chairs
The Cheat: Students sit next to one
another to cheat, or place notes under the
desk to retrieve on exam day.
BUSTED! There’s a very simple solution
to this tactic—assign random seats on
Beware the Smart Watch
The Cheat: the Apple Watch, or smart watch.
BUSTED! No mobile devices means no
mobile devices; anything that can access
the internet or store cheats—including that
thing on your student’s wrist—have to be
left at home.
Beware the Calculator
The Cheat: Calculators can do some
pretty amazing things, unfortunately
they can facilitate cheating, too.
BUSTED! Not allowing calculators
during exams within the quantitative
disciplines is not realistic, but you can
ban the sharing of calculators.
Beware the Body Part
The Cheat: This one is old school; the
student writes the answers on an exposed
or semi-exposed body part such as the
hands, the arms, the legs.
BUSTED! Okay, this one is a little tricky;
you don’t want to be a creep examining your
student’s skin, but look for telltale signs such
as sleeves that are repeatedly rolled up and
down, hands that are kept under the desk,
or closed fists.
Beware the Hat Brim
The Cheat: Answers are written on
the underside of the hat brim.
BUSTED! Require hats off and placed
out of reach.
The Cheat: Visible Ink - The student attempts to conceal
answers within a tattoo.
The Cheat: “Invisible Ink”- A student will write answers using heavy
pressure upon paper with a tablet stylus. The stylus “etches” the
information upon the paper. During the exam, the student uses a
pencil to shade a seemingly blank page to reveal an etched answer.
The Cheat: Crowdsourcing-Students who are taking an online
course meet on exam day to take the test as a group.