Cheating and academic dishonesty aren’t anything new. It has been going on for centuries from local community colleges to the hallowed halls of West Point.

Students have been finding creative ways to cheat since the first test was given. Cheating methods are limitless. It may be looking at the exam of the students at the desk next to you, or cribbing notes written on the palm of one’s hand.

Technology including Smartphones, online tutoring sites, such as Chegg, and contract writing sites like writemyessay make cheating easier.

Since the Pandemic started, exams have gone online. Cheating scandals have erupted at West Point, University of Missouri, Boston University and Georgia Tech. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Academic dishonesty takes many forms. Cheating methods include plagiarism, texting during an exam and contract cheating. Contract Cheating involves paying another to do your work or take your exam. At they boast “… we have graduates and postgraduate experts who will take your exam for you and get grade A or B.”

Technology has made cheating easier, but it also makes catching cheaters easier. The University of Georgia created a bot called Jack Watson that poses as an essay writer on some of these sites. Watson seeks out work assigned by University of Georgia professors and offers to do the work for a fee. When the bot delivers a completed assignment to the student, it embeds a watermark. The mark is then detected by the University when the student turns the work in.

Cheating detection in test-taking has gone high-tech as well. According to Educause, approximately three-quarters of schools may use remote proctoring. ProctorU, Respondus, and Proctorio are some of the larger vendors of proctoring applications. The proctoring applications can track eye movements and keystrokes when taking an exam. Some applications include lockdown browsers which lockdown a student’s computer.

Yet, technology is not foolproof. A thorough legal review and investigation of academic dishonesty cases is critical. According to Educase, 26% of schools use a program that does not meet their own accessibility standards. Students who have learning challenges, or other disabilities may be unfairly accused. If the program alerts to one’s eyes moving off the screen, a student could be flagged for cheating. However, it could have been the natural distraction from their ADHD that caused their eyes to dart around the room. Even normal thinking postures have resulted in accusations of academic dishonesty. FBI body language experts explain that it is common to look up or down when people are thinking. This does not even touch on students with movement disorders. For those who may have a disability, it is important to register with the school’s office that coordinates disability services. Having even the slightest case of ADHD documented before an exam may help. Students who have registered before an accusation have one less burden to meet.

Schools are taking a hard line when it comes to Academic Dishonesty. Punishments can range from a zero on the exam and probation to expulsion. Students facing disciplinary action need to act quickly. The process often moves from accusation to decision within weeks. Therefore, it is critical to engage counsel as early as possible. Students are often summoned to an administrator’s office with no notice and confronted with an allegation when they arrive. Administrators may ask to see your cell phone or other devices. It is perfectly acceptable to tell them that there is private information stored on the phone and decline, for the time being, to provide the phone. Upon arrival at the administrator’s office, the student may be peppered with questions. Students should politely ask why they are there and exactly what they are being accused of, before answering questions. There are of course times when a student has made a poor decision and is caught cheating red-handed. However, all is not lost. Working with experienced counsel in crafting the appropriate responses and acceptance of responsibility can mean the difference in the future of one’s academic career.

Contact us to learn more about how Mudrick & Zucker has assisted students accused of academic dishonesty.