Cheating in college classes: how common is it?

In summary: I remember one class, the teacher re-used the exact same tests every single semester, and someone found out about it, printed off the answers and passed it around before every test.{snip}In summary, cheating in college classes is common, and can happen in a variety of situations.
  • #1
docnet
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Hoping to start a discussion on a topic that seems rarely discussed here. In your direct or indirect experience, how commonly do students cheat in college classes? In what situation does cheating occur commonly? Did it occur in undergraduate or graduate school?
 
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  • #2
I noticed some slackness in post-graduate science projects at university; mainly a few team members who contributed little to STEM projects yet received comparable credit. From professional experience I was not surprised or upset that a few people carried the group to success. Such is life.

Plagiarism seemed rife in some non-STEM undergrad courses but most professors encouraged cooperative efforts; so, drawing a line can be difficult. Some teachers allowed any printed resource a student could bring to an exam including textbooks and 'cheat sheets', but designed the tests to favor those who had studied, attended lecture and internalized the course material. This predates modern internet. Phones were prohibited during exams.
 
  • #3
If anyone cheated when I was in school I was never aware of it.

EDIT: removed story I have told here before.
 
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  • #4
Very common in my experience. I remember one class, the teacher re-used the exact same tests every single semester, and someone found out about it, printed off the answers and passed it around before every test. I mean, literally, everybody in the class getting an A every test.
 
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I never cheated during my math studies in uni. It begs the question when one is cheating during their studies to become ..whatever it is they want to become.

It does happen and I've caught students at it. Cheating during a test, which is fairly difficult, is not as grave of a sin as plagiarism, though. A student got caught submitting a carbon copy of a fellow student's homework in Object oriented programming class and was exmatriculated. Usually, if exmatriculation occurs before 1/2 nominal time has passed during undergrad, the student is allowed to re-enroll on a state funded seat in uni. Provided the student wasn't exmatriculated for plagiarism, of course. He's out of luck..
 
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  • #6
It's hard to say because it is a secret behavior, but I'd imagine it is pretty widespread. Most of the people I knew googled homework answers. I didn't see much cheating on exams except in an Anatomy and Physiology lab exam I took.
 
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nuuskur said:
I never cheated during my math studies in uni. It begs the question when one is cheating during their studies to become ..whatever it is they want to become.
{snip}
Concur. Cheating in math and practical science classes applies a self-defeating criteria. When the cheater needs the skill, to build their knowledge from a strong base, it is not there. They have literally disqualified themselves.

I returned to college after federal service primarily to learn calculus and advanced mathematics; so, I enrolled in Calculus I after scoring well in algebra and trig entrance exams. The professor, who became my advisor, removed me from Calculus I and placed me in a friend's Analytical Geometry prerequisite course.

I strongly took to 'analyt'. I tend to think geometrically plus the instructor taught us to draw in n-dimensions as well as analyze forms from equations. I trace my current interest and minor skills in fine arts to that class. The ability to recognize shapes from algebraic expressions requires practice and hard work. Calculus courses at university just flowed from that proper beginning. Cheaters short-circuit their careers.
 
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I was told that in a masters program, students spoke out loud to each other in a language neither the prof nor the person who told me the story understood. I've heard of this happening more than once.
 
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WWGD said:
I was told that in a masters program, students spoke out loud to each other in a language neither the prof nor the person who told me the story understood. I've heard of this happening more than once.
That's why you ban talking during the test. Any form of communication should be perceived as an attempt to cheat unless proven otherwise.
 
  • #10
nucl34rgg said:
That's why you ban talking during the test. Any form of communication should be perceived as an attempt to cheat unless proven otherwise.
The school may have been a diploma mill that did not want to upset its international customers ( and future potential ones) by disciplining those who cheat.
 
  • #11
docnet said:
Hoping to start a discussion on a topic that seems rarely discussed here. In your direct or indirect experience, how commonly do students cheat in college classes? In what situation does cheating occur commonly? Did it occur in undergraduate or graduate school?
I think it happens fairly often. I recall reading about a survey or study that found that most people admitted to cheating at least once while in college. I don't remember how cheating was defined, though.

The answer to your question does depend on what kind of cheating you're talking about. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of students cheated on homework in the first year or two of college. Many students have told me they regularly look up solutions on Chegg and other sites. If they turn it in as their own work, it's cheating. Some students may not think it's cheating because they "understand the solution."

Cheating on exams, I suspect, is rarer simply because it's typically harder to do and the consequences often more severe if caught. It does happen, though. I remember in one class in my junior year, when I got up to turn in an exam, I saw students sitting in the back row blatantly passing notes back and forth. I know the cheating was reported, but I don't recall hearing anything ever happening.

With the pandemic-induced move to remote learning and assessment, I think the prevalence of cheating on exams has gone way up. Numerous instructors here mentioned how grades mysteriously improved after we all went online. In one class, I saw obvious signs of cheating and gave zeros to those students, and no one complained. I took that as an admission of guilt.
 
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I was fortunate in that in the courses I taught, the students were primarily dedicated professionals seeking expanded knowledge and skill sets unlike (some ) undergrad university courses that were required even if the student had no interest in the subject. Prepared students with an interest in the material who understand the subject positively feed back into the student-teacher dynamic to the benefit of all participants.

If valid, this idea implies that cheaters act to the detriment of the community; weakening those bonds of trust that unite us in common.
 
  • #13
Klystron said:
I was fortunate in that in the courses I taught, the students were primarily dedicated professionals seeking expanded knowledge and skill sets unlike (some ) undergrad university courses that were required even if the student had no interest in the subject. Prepared students with an interest in the material who understand the subject positively feed back into the student-teacher dynamic to the benefit of all participants.

If valid, this idea implies that cheaters act to the detriment of the community; weakening those bonds of trust that unite us in common.
I remember, as a t.a, being asked to find ways of motivating ( undergrad) students. I had trouble with this task because my problem as an undergrad was that I was unfocused because I was interested in j7st about every thing.
 
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WWGD said:
I was told that in a masters program, students spoke out loud to each other in a language neither the prof nor the person who told me the story understood. I've heard of this happening more than once.
This story suggests a corollary to an industry where cheating remains an ever present threat that also enforces spoken English only etiquette: casino gaming.

Card rooms prohibit conversations in other languages during active games, along with signaling or any form of information exchange not shared by all the players. Even sign languages used by the hearing impaired are closely monitored and recorded by camera to inhibit unfair information advantage.
 
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WWGD said:
I remember, as a t.a, being asked to find ways of motivating ( undergrad) students. I had trouble with this task because my problem as an undergrad was that I was unfocused because I was interested in j7st about every thing.
Sure. I helped pay the bills when returning to college by working as a laboratory assistant also volunteering at the veteran's education office, often screening applicants for then-new computer science courses. After reviewing prior coursework, homework and lab assignments, many applicants appeared qualified for advanced work and new careers.

Others, attracted by the panache and potential wealth of writing software, appeared dubious when asked "Do you enjoy solving puzzles?". "Do you like games?". "How would you use your math skills to solve this problem?". "How do you organize projects and assignments? .

Typical answers such as "I hate games.", "Studying algebra was a complete waste of my time.", "Puzzles give me a headache.", "Computers destroy society.", "I am totally disorganized.", lead me to suggest other, less painful course of education. Many applicants seemed amazed that CS degrees required physics and mathematics; even when CS remained under the Mathematics department.

To return to the focus of this thread, some cheating could be the result of misunderstanding prerequisites, incomplete preparation, overloaded schedules and/or unrealistic goals as opposed to actual fraud.
 
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Klystron said:
Sure. I helped pay the bills when returning to college by working as a laboratory assistant also volunteering at the veteran's education office, often screening applicants for then-new computer science courses. After reviewing prior coursework, homework and lab assignments, many applicants appeared qualified for advanced work and new careers.

Others, attracted by the panache and potential wealth of writing software, appeared dubious when asked "Do you enjoy solving puzzles?". "Do you like games?". "How would you use your math skills to solve this problem?". "How do you organize projects and assignments? .

Typical answers such as "I hate games.", "Studying algebra was a complete waste of my time.", "Puzzles give me a headache.", "Computers destroy society.", "I am totally disorganized.", lead me to suggest other, less painful course of education. Many applicants seemed amazed that CS degrees required physics and mathematics; even when CS remained under the Mathematics department.

To return to the focus of this thread, some cheating could be the result of misunderstanding prerequisites, incomplete preparation, overloaded schedules and/or unrealistic goals as opposed to actual fraud.
Hope you never ran into someone with a first name ' Ted' and a Polish last name ;). I agree. I wish I had been in an environment with people as motivated as I was. Too many seemed lost/aimless and just brought the vibes down for all.
 
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WWGD said:
Hope you never ran into someone with a first name ' Ted' and a Polish last name ;). I agree. I wish I had been in an environment with people as motivated as I was. Too many seemed lost/aimless and just brought the vibes down for all.
That's why ideas like college for all may not be that great.
 
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Well, a good friend of mine is a history professor who teaches the 'intro' courses frequently. He finds plagiarism in basically every section of the courses at least once. The thrust of is his rating on "rate may professer" is that he always detects plagiarism, and this is considered a negative!??

[edit: of course all such papers get 0 and are reported, further worsening his rating]
 
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  • #19
PAllen said:
The thrust of is his rating on "rate may professer" is that he always detects plagiarism, and this is considered a negative!

How dare he! The fiend!
 
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Vanadium 50 said:
How dare he! The fiend!
Im glad I t.a'd in the sciences.
 
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I do not like to think I cheated per se when I was an undergraduate math student. But I do confess to asking this board and bugging my professors more often than the average student for help on completing homework assignments. As a result, I feel like I left college with less understanding of my major than my peers. I confess also to not being willing to put an honest effort into attempting problems on my own before resorting to seeking outside help. In my defense, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted by the last year of college, sometimes to the point that I either barely had any energy to do anything let alone commit to my studies, or to the point that I did not care about and lost interest in aforementioned studies. And without a lot of prospects for post-graduation life, putting in the effort didn't really seem to have any point, in my view. In short, I felt like I cheated with the amount of help I had received, and as a result, I graduated with what I feel was an inadequate understanding of my subject major, something which I thoroughly regret at the moment. The bottom-line is that in my view, a student seeking too much outside help will have a less thorough understanding of his or her homework assignments than a student who did not. Sometimes my desire to attain high marks sometimes overshadowed my desire to understand, which is probably something that should have alerted me to, although I was too stubborn to acknowledge at the time, the fact that I probably went to college for the wrong reasons. Anyway, in my view, relying on others instead of having faith in oneself to get through during college only hurts the student and only cheats him or her out of getting the most out of a proper education worth thousands of American dollars.
 
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PAllen said:
Well, a good friend of mine is a history professor who teaches the 'intro' courses frequently. He finds plagiarism in basically every section of the courses at least once. {snip}
I had to read this post several times to understand. One can temporize 'borrowing' in an advanced course as an overextended undergrad. Intro to history courses are effectively entertainment with a textbook.

Read the assigned text, attend a few lectures, watch a vid, write an original essay as best one can, and boost one's GPA. Baffling conduct.

Is the problem functional illiteracy coupled with lack of ethics?
 
  • #23
Klystron said:
...

Is the problem functional illiteracy coupled with lack of ethics?
I think this is the issue. Some of the students each year are really early high school level, and can't really write a paper.
 
  • #24
My friend graduated from a small university here in Canada, doing both undergrad and law. He said cheating was frequent during his studies. He worked or volunteered at a tutoring centre as a writing helper, and was offered money to do people's homework on a number of occasions.
 
  • #25
docnet said:
In your direct or indirect experience, how commonly do students cheat in college classes? In what situation does cheating occur commonly?
It was very common to have a ton of old homework along with the notes from previous years. But since the teachers did their homework, the effect as 'cheating' was minuscule.

It was said that some collections had even been reviewed by teachers.

Cheating on exams were a different topic. Almost everybody invested quite an effort in the preparation for this, however at the end actual cheating rarely happened. The situation was just too tense.
Serious exams were with pre-ordered loose, random seating and with multiple teachers standing (walking..) guard.
Oh yes, the tables were all wiped very clean the previous day...

There was a local legend about 'catching' some unknown, never-seen-before students at the beginning of an exam for cheating :wink:
 

1. How common is cheating in college classes?

Cheating in college classes is unfortunately quite common. According to a study by the International Center for Academic Integrity, 68% of undergraduate students admitted to cheating on a test, and 53% admitted to cheating on a written assignment.

2. What are the most common methods of cheating in college classes?

The most common methods of cheating in college classes include copying from another student's exam or assignment, using unauthorized materials or devices during a test, and plagiarizing from online sources or other students' work.

3. Why do students cheat in college classes?

There are many reasons why students may choose to cheat in college classes. Some may feel pressure to maintain high grades, while others may struggle with time management and feel the need to cheat in order to meet deadlines. Additionally, some students may not see the consequences of cheating as significant enough to deter them.

4. How are colleges addressing the issue of cheating?

Colleges have implemented various measures to address cheating, such as creating honor codes, increasing vigilance during exams, and using plagiarism detection software. Many colleges also have resources available for students to improve their study skills and avoid the temptation to cheat.

5. What are the consequences of cheating in college classes?

The consequences of cheating can vary depending on the college and the severity of the cheating. In most cases, students can face disciplinary action such as failing the assignment or course, academic probation, or even expulsion. Cheating can also have long-term effects, such as damaging a student's academic and professional reputation.

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