The Trending Prof

Anita Woods Ph.D., University Educator

Don’t Lie to Me

One of the least favourite parts of my job is when cheating and lying happens.  As midterm season wraps up and I’ve just finished with catching and dealing with a number of those who have cheated I am reminded why I cannot and will not look the other way. Why?

1. Because it is my job to maintain the academic integrity of our university

2. It is not fair to the other students who have worked hard and achieved their marks fairly

3. This is not a grey area. Its not a white lie, or just stretching the truth a little, it’s a lie period and it’s wrong

Sometimes it is hard to catch those in the process of lying, but in the days of technology, it is becoming easier to catch.  One of the easiest ways to catch plagiarism is a lovely software system called “turnitin” Any piece of written work is kept in a repository and submitted written work is added to the repository and checked against all other pieces. I can see exactly where something was plagiarized from, how much was copied, if one word was changed (and to what it was changed to….and the entire rest of the paragraph is exactly the same).  This is called plagiarism and don’t tell me “I didn’t know….”

We have amazing abilities as administrators to see many things with the use of technology. We can see when you log into the learning management system, what files you opened (or didn’t open), when you logged in to take a quiz (yes, we can tell if you clicked to start the quiz or not and it doesn’t matter if the internet just happened to freeze on you, we can see that too so didn’t pretend it did).  We can also use scantron analysis software to see that you stole 10 answers in a row from the person sitting beside you, etc.

Most of all, I seem to have developed extra special senses when it comes to cheating in an exam.  Call it a bad feeling, call it the fact that you are scoping out your surroundings and constantly looking up to see if anyone is watching you…I nab cheaters fast.  I also train my proctors to do the same. And we take it seriously.  It stinks to have to have the embarrassing conversation about seeing your shifty eyes, and walking you to the front of the exam room to sit in exile to finish the remainder of your exam but I won’t hesitate to do it because cheating stinks and its not okay.  The truth always comes out.

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