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How to Combat College Cheating

Preventing cheating in college classesCheating at the college and university level has been a problem from the beginning, but it has only gotten worse as technology has proliferated.  As smartphones (read: handheld computers) have become ubiquitous on college campuses, the ability for students to outsmart professors is overwhelming.  (There was even a question posted to Quora asking the best place to sit in a class to cheat.)
Colleges and universities find themselves needing to get increasingly creative in combating the problem.  Here are a few ideas.

  • Foster a social stigma against cheating.  This blog post suggests creating and reinforcing a campus-wide honor code to encourage students to walk the straight and narrow.
  • Spell out to students specific behaviors that amount to cheating and plagiarism.  Yes, it’s unfortunate that today’s students aren’t necessarily clear on what constitutes cheating, but it may be best to provide the clarification.
  • Create a centralized testing center.  Many colleges and universities have designated a separate building or wing for tests and quizzes, which allows for enforcement of rules such as confiscation of phones and other electronic devices.  Yes, this can be expensive, and yes, it can amount to an inconvenience for students; however, a separate controlled environment can make it easier to clamp down on wandering eyes and coordinated efforts among students.
  • Invest in the right class layout.  Having flexible classroom furniture can allow instructors to rearrange seating in ways that will discourage cheating.

It’s also worth pointing out that technology is something of a two-edged sword when it comes to this topic: it makes it easier for students to cheat, but it can also make it easier for teachers to catch them.