Universities Grapple with Surge in Online Exam Cheating Amid COVID-19

Universities Grapple with Surge in Online Exam Cheating Amid COVID-19

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A record surge in examination cheating related to online assessments has been reported universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of NSW reported a significant increase of 79% in students caught cheating on exams in 2022 compared to the previous year. Similarly, the University of Sydney saw a more than tripled number of exam misconduct cases during the same period. Methods of cheating have ranged from students collaborating in person to using online platforms like Facebook, WeChat, and Discord.

Whistle-blowers have played a crucial role in catching students who cheat together, either in person or through online channels. The University of NSW has acknowledged that significant exam misconduct is likely going undetected due to the use of private chat platforms for real-time discussions of exam questions. In response to the rising incidents of cheating, the University of Sydney has opted for pen-and-paper exams for most students in Australia, resulting in a 45% drop in exam misconduct. However, UNSW has not returned to widespread pen-and-paper tests and instead focuses on developing assessments to minimize cheating.

According to UNSW deputy vice chancellor George Williams, in-person exams are not considered the best way to assess students as they can be high stress and not necessarily reflective of a student’s progress. Despite these challenges, some universities, like the University of Wollongong, have recorded a higher number of incidents of academic misconduct in exams in recent years. The University of Technology, on the other hand, has reported no increase in exam cheating and continues to use a mix of online invigilated exams and on-campus tests.

While online exams offer benefits such as efficiency in marking and venue flexibility, academic integrity experts emphasize the need to design exams with the assumption that students will cheat. Cath Ellis, an expert at the University of Sydney, mentions that in-person exams have historically been environments with high rates of cheating. Despite the rise in cheating detections, overall findings of academic misconduct have declined at UNSW in 2022.

– Exam misconduct: Cheating or any dishonest behavior during examinations.
– Academic integrity: Ethical behavior and honesty in academic work and research.

– University of NSW
– University of Sydney
– University of Wollongong
– University of Technology
– Expert opinions from George Williams and Cath Ellis.