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Using Technology to Cheat

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Using Technology to Cheat

Cheating in the classroom has been happening since the first schoolhouse was built; however, it has more than doubled in the last decade due to the emergence of new technologies that give students high tech alternatives to looking at their classmate's paper. "A 2002 survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics of 12,000 high-school students found that 74 % of students had cheated on an exam at least once in the previous year. According to Donald McCabe, who conducted the Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, study, the Internet is partly to blame. The Internet makes plagiarism very simple. In-class cheating has also gone high technology. Experts say students who cheat are not just scribbling tiny crib sheets anymore. They are using their cell phones to instant message questions and answers or storing notes on their graphing calculators." ("Eye on Cheaters," 2004)

Over the past decade or so, we have seen a huge increase in cheating in our schools. The introduction of the Internet into most homes and schools and other technological advances are some of the main causes. Students are misusing the new technologies to find new and more high tech ways to cheat. During testing students are receiving answers via text messaging devices, they are downloading notes to iPods and graphing calculators, they are picture messaging exams with their mobile phones, and they are even hiring look-alike experts to take the exams for them. They can use the internet to easily plagiarize a paper; they can pay a company to write the paper for them, they can even pay to use a prewritten paper from a database. The internet and technology are making it easier and easier for students to cheat, and as technology continues to advance, we will continue to see a rapid rise in cheating.

Many self respecting and honest people can be motivated to cheat in this day and age. Will the prevalence of computers, text messaging cell phones and even the ipod in the classroom students have technology at their fingertips and therefore the accessibility to cheat. The computer allow you to Google almost anything. The cell phones allow you to text another student or even someone sitting at a computer. The iPod® allows you to listen to almost anything including the speech you may be writing about. We all want that edge over the person sitting next to us.

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"Using Technology to Cheat." 10 Mar 2018

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"Competition, though, is the real culprit. As the work force becomes ever more crowded and the number of college grads skyrockets, top educational credentials are increasingly seen as the only sure vehicle to success." (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006) The previous statement is true. Cheating today, to get the edge over another is like steroids in athletes. Instead of using the strength of our minds and thoughts we find someone else who did and copy their thought. "In a recent poll of 25,000 high-schoolers by the California-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, nearly half agreed with the statement ‘A person has to lie or to cheat sometimes in order to succeed'". (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006) It seem that everyone is doing it. Multitudes of student believe the only way to make it through a class is to cheat. Don't read the book listen to, then listen to the cliff notes while taking the test. You didn't really learn the book you just regurgitated someone else's work.
Not only is technology influencing us to cheat, but the fact that we all think we don't have enough time does. If we look at an average day then we find almost every minute is filled with things that really don't help us get things done. I have to be home to watch..., or I got to get with guys to do ..., or somebody needs me to do something. Emotionally those seem like valid activities, but that is putting someone else's needs over our own. If you schedule out your day and know that you have to have this done, then do it. Waiting till the last minute just influences you more to find an easier way to do something therefore cheating. If we scheduled time to complete our own tasks like we do for other people we could actually do a lot more.
There are many methods used to cheat. "Some of the ways students cheat are laborious and truly ingenious. In fact one can't help but wonder why these cheaters don't just put the same effort into studying." (Clabaugh & Rozycki, 2003)

The most common method to cheat is with cheat sheets, also known as "cliff notes". Some techniques of this type of cheating include writing on your hand and in between fingers. Some people graffiti the desk with notes and answers to tests. Others have even used a nail or a sharp point to inscribe answers on a pencil. People can even go as far as writing on the inside of the bill of a baseball cap. It is also not uncommon for students to leave some type of note or cheat sheet in bathrooms. "Snappling -- in this form of crib note fraud students carefully remove the label from a clear beverage, such as Snapple. They put their notes on the back of the label, then paste it back in place using transparent glue. During the exam the student takes slow "thoughtful" swigs out of the bottle." (Clabaugh & Rozycki, 2003) Although I do not condone this, one of the cleverest things I read was people writing on the inside of a gum wrapper, or even inserting text on the gum package itself. There is even a template for a gum package at

Other methods of cheating involve co-conspirators. These cheats can devise clever signals, such as hand signals, for the test or exam. They can also have people steal copies of the exam in which the answers were supplied in the review. Another technique of this style is outsourcing, in which term papers such as reports and essays are pre-written and sold to the students. We often refer to this method as "Paper mills". The following is a list of web sites that offer paper mills:
"In China…police last year cracked one of the biggest qiangshou (hired gun) gangs – Web-based agencies where students can hire expert look-alikes to take any of a host of national exams for them." (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006)

The last method of cheating is with technology. Let's face it, with today's technology; cheating in school becomes so much easier. Students can use their phones for many techniques of cheating. They can text message the answers to fellow students, photocopies or even notes can be saved on their phones, or they can even use SparkMobile from Spark Notes (Barnes & Noble's version of "cliff notes") which can be sent to the phone. Students can also use their iPod or even graphing calculators to store notes for exams.

Countermeasures to Using Technology to Cheat

Just as the methods of using technology to cheat have become increasingly innovative, so, too, have the countermeasures to prevent them. In October of 2006, exam questions on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) will be changed from test to test. They will also vary test start times from time zone to time zone to prevent students from providing memorized or photocopied tests to fellow test takers. (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006)

The effects of using technology to cheat, and the resulting countermeasures span the globe. Examples range from instructive to the militant extreme. For example, in the United Kingdom, the government has developed the Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc), a committee that aids in raising plagiarism awareness among the academic community and provides funding for TurnItInUK. (Hibbert, 2005) Whereas countries such as China and South Korea have gone so far as to implement up to seven year prison sentences for those caught cheating. (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006)

A recent study by Prof Jean Underwood, from Nottingham Trent University, suggested the use of Faraday cages, or metal-lined rooms that block all radio frequency signals, for test takers. This type of approach would prevent students from using their cell phones or iPods to cheat. Prof Jean Underwood also states that "new types of mobile-phone blocking paint could be available in the future." (Paton, 2006)

Biometrics is even being used to prevent cheating via technology. Methods such as fingerprinting, voice recognition, handwriting recognition, even retina scans, may seem like science fiction, but they are becoming a reality.

Educators have many new tools to add to their arsenal as well. Services such as and that check written works for plagiarism are becoming increasingly more commonplace.

Still other institutions are beginning to reduce their dependence on standardized tests by implementing a high tech version of the "open book" test where test takers have open access to the Internet during their exam. Similarly, more and more universities are placing a greater emphasis on methods that virtually eliminate the possibility for cheating, such as personal interviews and recommendations. (Vencat, Overdorf, Adams, 2006)

While the modern countermeasures to using technology to cheat continue to become increasingly innovative, the most effective countermeasure to cheating is for parents and educators to foster an environment for their children and/or students where cheating simply isn't acceptable.
In summary, today's technological advancements increase the average amount of students who cheat. Many can blame this dishonesty on peer pressure and the pressures to succeed. Either way it is immoral and is demoralizing today's society. With each technological advancement used to cheat, an effective countermeasure must be obtained in order to sustain the moral ethics of our future, the youth.


Vencat, Emily Flynn, Overdorf, Jason, Adams, Jonathan. (3/27/2006). The Perfect Score. Newsweek, Vol. 147(13), p44-47

Hibbert, Lee. (5/11/2005). Catch the Cheats. Professional Engineering, Vol. 18(9), p22-23

Moeck, Pat Gallagher. (July 2002). Academic Dishonesty: Cheating Among Community College Students. Community College Journal of Research & Practice Vol 26(6), p479-491

Paton, Graeme. (6/12/2006). Exams in metal-lined rooms to stop cheats. Retrieved January 18, 2006, from Web site:

Gary K. Clabaugh & Edward G. Rozycki, Preventing Cheating and Plagiarism, 2nd Edition (2003) Oreland, PA: NewFoundations Press.

Frean, 2006; "Jam the cheaters, full speed ahead," 2004

Abdul-Alim, 2006

Smartphone access, information superhighway open new avenues for plagiarism and sharing of answers — while offering educators new tools for patrolling student work

Her elation passed quickly. What came next was suspicion.

Pechan, then substitute teaching at a McHenry County high school, went to Google, typed the paper's first sentence ("Kind and understanding, strict but fair, Atticus Finch embodies everything that a father should be") and there it was: The entire essay had been lifted from an online paper mill.

"I went from amazement and excitement to 'Oh my God' in the space of a half-second," Pechan recalled.

That feeling is going around a lot these days. As technology puts massive computing power and the near-sum of human knowledge within a few taps of a touch screen, educators and students say young people are finding new and increasingly devious ways to cheat.

They're going to websites that calculate the answers for their math homework. They're snapping covert photographs of exams and forwarding them to dozens of friends. They're sneaking cheat sheets into the memory banks of their calculators.

Isha Jog, 17, a senior at Hoffman Estates High School, said she has even seen some of her peers getting quiz answers off their cellphones — while the quiz is in progress.

At the same time, technology also is helping to foil digital desperadoes. Teachers are running essays though automated plagiarism detectors. They're using systems that allow them to observe what students are doing with their wireless classroom calculators. And they're using programs to shuffle test questions so every class gets a different version.

Still, experts say cheaters have the upper hand, leaving some educators to look for teaching techniques that are harder to game. But in the file-sharing, cut-and-paste world enabled by the Internet, some say the biggest challenge might be convincing students that what they're doing is wrong.

"I definitely think there's a mindset problem," said Carol Baker, curriculum director for science and music at School District 218, serving Oak Lawn and nearby suburbs, and president of the Illinois Science Teachers Association. "Today, kids are used to obtaining any kind of information they want (online). There are so many things that are free out there. I think kids don't have the same sense of, 'Gee, it's wrong to take something that somebody else wrote.' The Internet encourages all of us to do that."

Eric Anderman, a professor of educational psychology at Ohio State University, has studied student cheating. He says that while it's hard to nail down statistics on its prevalence, the best estimate is that up to 85 percent of high school students have cheated at least once.

It's unclear how digital technology has affected teens' willingness to cheat, he said. What is clear is that it has made dishonesty a lot easier.

"If you have 30 kids in a classroom, it's not easy to catch them," he said. "There's only so much one person can do. The kids really can get away with it."

Students interviewed by the Tribune say the Web has made homework a snap. WolframAlpha can instantly solve the most complicated equations, while Yahoo! Answers is a bazaar of solutions. York High School junior Kathleen O'Brien said some students post homework answers on blogs, too.

"Sometimes entire answer sheets for work sheets can be found online," she said.

As for tests, suburban high school biology teacher Jason Crean said he has heard about students texting exam questions to friends who have his class later in the day. In response, he now makes multiple versions of his tests, a step that has doubled or tripled his preparation time.

He said cheating seems to have become a social obligation that students strive to meet without considering the harm of their actions — not least to themselves.

"If they learn anything in my class, I want them to learn to do things for themselves," he said. "That's a lesson they have to learn for life, and I don't want them to learn it the hard way after they've left. They need to think and solve problems … and the technology is taking away from that."

Some are trying to find technological solutions to cheating. The College Board, burned by a scandal earlier this year in which Long Island students were paid to take the SAT for others, will soon require students to provide their photographs — typically by digital upload — before taking the test. The photos will later be sent to the test-taker's high school to thwart any would-be impersonators. The ACT is adopting a similar tactic for those who take the test away from their schools.