Due to the emerging technological era, the propensity to cheat in an academic environment is becoming increasingly enticing for students and problematic for their instructors. As technologically savvy students become more creative in committing acts of academic dishonesty, their instructors must become increasingly competent in their endeavors to deter cheating. With the convenience of computers and online data, unfortunately, an unwelcome new challenge emerges: preventing the misuse of these technological advances in academic environments.
Cheating is widespread from high schoolers to college students. Not only do academic and professional teams recognize the widespread problem of ...view middle of the document...
McMurtry (2001), assistant professor at Montreat College in North Carolina, reports that the actual number of students who cheat is impossible. In 1999, McMurtry caught five students who plagiarized by downloading papers from the Web. In a cursory search, McMurtry found over 30 sites that offer students papers free or for a fee (p.1). Consequently, instead of students researching the facts and applying critical analysis, they are opting for others to do the work for them. At the same time, many students use the “cut and paste” (Campbell, p.38) method from the Internet and attach information in their papers without properly citing the authors of their source. This is plagiarism.
Along with the rising accessibility to the Internet, enrollment in long distance education is rapidly evolving. In 2003, the United States Department of Education reported rapid growth in online courses offered by universities throughout the United States (Chiesl, p. 203). According to research by Newell Chiesl (2007), many reasons contribute to the increasing popularity of online course enrollment:
• Online classes offer a diversity of courses.
• Class schedules are convenient to times that meet with the students’ schedules and busy workweeks.
• Online classes do not require the student’s physical attendance in an actual classroom at a certain time each day.
• The increased number of MBA courses offered online is drawing the enrollment of many students to earn their master’s degrees online.
Although many benefits amass from online learning, one of the greatest drawbacks is academic dishonesty. An academic study by McCabe (1993) reported that 70% of the students surveyed, cheated on a test at least once. A study by Kennedy, Nowack, Raghuran, Thomas, and Davis (2000) reported that 57% of students also believe cheating is easier on exams offered during online classes.
The methods that instructors use to teach students online must consider the easy accessibility of information, as well as the student’s propensity to cheat in online environments. The prevalence of academic dishonesty in long distance learning is unfortunate but reducible by applying practical techniques to decrease the ease of accessing information during exams.
One change that instructors must incorporate into their online training is the method of taking exams. For instance, instructors must use the tightest timeframe possible for students to complete the exam. Instructors should also use many of the Blackboard alternatives to determine how students in each class should take exams. More important, exams should not be administered online; instead, they should be “taken in person with positive identification” (Campbell, p.43), proving that the student taking the exam is the actual one enrolled in the class. Taking the test in person lessens the probability of cheating. Students, motivated by the competitiveness of academia in the evolving technological era, would become more inclined to learn...