Due to the increased use of remote instruction over recent months, concerns regarding academic integrity have become apparent among many institutions. John Cramer, director of Public and Media Relations, discussed cheating violations in the Rutgers community and how the University is combatting this issue.
“Since the transition to remote learning, we have not experienced an increase in cheating violations or reports of violations,” Cramer said. “The vast majority of our students adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity, which is a cornerstone of the Rutgers experience.”
Cramer said he believes expectations for honest work in an online environment are the same for in-person classes. The Academic Integrity Policy has not changed since the transition to remote learning, he said.
“Every platform offers an opportunity for students to attempt to complete their work dishonestly,” he said. “Cheating in the remote environment is different, but some students also find ways to cheat on in-person exams as well.”
While the integrity policy has remained the same, departments have implemented new measures in an effort to prevent cheating, Cramer said. “Departments have changed the way they provide online exams to make it more difficult for students to cheat, and if they do so, they are more likely to be caught,” he said.
Lockdown browsers, virtual proctoring and question randomization are among some of the techniques that can be used to help prevent cheating during online exams, according to an article by Pearson Education.
“Most violations involving cheating come from the sciences and math departments,” Cramer said.
In addition to departments enforcing their own anti-cheating measures, the Office of Student Conduct has created tutorial videos on completing work honestly, Cramer said.
The Academic Integrity Policy, effective from June 2, highlights the requirements students must follow, as well as the different types of offenses and punishments that can occur. The policy suggests that all members of the Rutgers community should read it.
“Penalties range from a grade penalty to failure in the course, while disciplinary penalties range from a warning to expulsion,” Cramer said. “Penalties depend on the nature of the violation, whether the student involved has a prior history of violations and recommendations from the faculty member.”
The policy lists seven types of violations: plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, facilitation of dishonesty, academic sabotage, violation of research or professional ethics and violations involving potentially criminal activity. There are also three levels of violations and sanctions, the latter including academic penalties, educational sanctions and disciplinary sanctions.
An honor pledge has also been adopted in order to further prioritize academic honesty, according to the policy. It is to be written and signed on exams and major course assignments, stating, “On my honor, I have neither received nor given any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment).”
Rutgers plans to maintain this policy into the next semester, regardless if remote instruction continues, Cramer said.
“There will be no policy changes, but departments will continue to evaluate how they give online exams to ensure exams and online work are completed honestly,” he said.