Office of the Academic Ombud -- A neutral, independent and confidential resource for UK students and faculty

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Professor talking with student in a laboratory

Cheating During Examinations

The prevalence of cheating on campuses across the country appears to be high. This reality is disturbing not only to faculty but to the many, many students who choose not to cheat as well. Clearly, it is the faculty's responsibility to take due precautions to deter and prevent cheating during final examinations. One way to decrease cheating is to explain to students the value you, your department, your college, and the university community as a whole place on academic integrity and explain why cheating is fundamentally unfair. You might also inform students that if they observe other students cheating, advising the instructor following the examination has little value. If a student wishes to call cheating to the attention of an instructor, they are best served by discretely reporting the cheating as it occurs. In addition, faculty can take the following steps during examination time to limit cheating on in-class examinations:

  • Assign/change seating for the final; if possible, have students leave empty seats between one another.
  • Require students to place all personal effects at the front of the room or at least out of view.
  • Prohibit wearing of wide-brimmed caps or ask students to turn them backwards.
  • Announce, "talking during the exam will be construed as cheating."
  • Create a "sign-in" sheet and compare signatures on the exams with those on the sign-in sheet.
  • Count the number of students present and compare with the number of exams submitted.
  • Examine the desktops and floors during the examination and require removal of all extraneous material.
  • Monitor carefully all segments of the room at regular intervals during the examination.
  • Announce that not anybody leaving the classroom during the exam will be allowed to return.
  • Ensure all proctors can identify behaviors indicative of cheating and document any such observations.
  • Be certain at least two proctors can corroborate and document any unusual behavior.
  • Confiscate all evidence of cheating (crib sheets, notes, etc.) immediately, unobtrusively, and without comment.
  • Do not leave the room during the examination period.
  • In recent years electronic devices have become a serious problem. Nationally, students have used cell phones for text messaging and to photograph examinations, as well as recording information for playback on iPods and MP3 players. It would be best to prohibit the use of any electronic device during examinations.

Some instructors resist, or even resent, the responsibility we all share to prevent cheating during examinations to the greatest extent possible. Please remember, that the "silent majority" of students rely upon the faculty to uphold academic integrity and to ensure that the basic principles of fairness and honesty prevail throughout the examination experience. It is the honest students who are cheated if we do not fulfill our responsibility to prevent it. 

Students in W. T. Young