New cheating techniques go high tech

Daily Sundial

The days of creating cheat sheets, writing answers on the palm of the hand and whispering answers to a friend during a test have given way to a much more advanced form of cheating.

High-tech cheating is a topic of concern at many university campuses nationwide.

When one thinks about high-tech cheating, cell phones, camera phones, text messages, and PDAs come to mind, but thanks to the Internet, another form of high-tech cheating has concerned to many professors.

The Internet gives students access to a wide variety of essays and term papers to plagiarize. Websites, which contain pre-written material for free or for a fee, can be accessed by students and used in their classes.

To combat the possibility of cheating and plagiarism, several professors are giving assignments where it would be difficult to cheat in class with cell phones or the traditional cheat sheet.

“This is my fifth year at CSUN, and for me, Spring and Fall 2004 were the first semesters that I did not catch a plagiarist,” said Alexandra Cole, political science professor. “That does not mean there wasn’t one, but I just could not catch one.”

Cole gives take-home assignments, or gives students 10 to 15 minute quizzes to minimize the students’ chance to cheat. Another way professors have tried to cut down on cheating during final exams is by assigning long research papers to be turned in during the final class.

“I haven’t come across any cases of students cheating with cell phones,” said Carl Wendt, professor of anthropology. “It has a potential to be a problem, but I don’t think that it is here.”

When it comes to plagiarism, some students claim they did not know they did anything wrong. Some professors then rely on their own judgment to decide how , or if, to reprimand the student.

“Students who are caught plagiarizing claim they did not know that what they did was defined as plagiarism,” said Ramon Garcia, Chicano/a Studies professor. “I have had to reprimand a few students for plagiarizing in their essays.”

Garcia said that when he was in college, plagiarism was not very common. Plagiarism seems to be much more prevalent nowadays.