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Do I need to define all forms of cheating in the syllabus?

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Sam Curran


( 5 months ago )

Every year, students seem to find new ways to "cheat" on the work. Every year, my course policies section grows longer and longer (a full page now) to match the newfound methods. I list all forms of plagiarism and exam rules and penalties. I additionally post similar rules on assignment instructions, particularly defining areas where I found students "cut corners" while still literally following the instructions. I teach many freshmen and foreign students who are not familiar with college expectations.

Do I need to define all forms of cheating on the syllabus? Is there some way to apply and enforce a blanket, "no other cheating permitted"?

Some examples include:

  1. Copying and pasting text from Web sites.
  2. Submitting classmate's returned assignment as late assignment with own name.
  3. Foreign students using machine translation exclusively to write essays for writing courses.
  4. Using TTS for speeches.
  5. Peering at other papers during exams.
  6. Copying from phone during exams.
  7. Submitting work they made in other courses.
  8. Adding names of extra non-contributors to group work.
  9. Doing work for a classmate.
  10. Pretending to be another student during an exam.
  11. Attending different sections during exams to preview the exam or try different versions.

Bhanu Gupta


( 5 months ago )

I think your problem quite literally is that you specify too much. If you provide a long list of things students are not allowed to do, it is natural that students assume that the list is comprehensive (that is, everything that is not on the list has to be legal). If you do what chubakueno proposes and have a single rule Plagiarising == fail, most people would be fully aware what that means.

EDIT: clearly, this does not mean that you should never go into more detail. Of course, if one has unusual or unexpected rules which other comparable lectures in the same university do not have, then of course they need to be explained. However, most of the examples given by Village are IMHO pretty obvious.

Frankly, many of the items on your list cannot reasonably be assumed to be ok, no matter the rules. For instance, did you really have a student tell you with a straight face he thought it was ok if he pretended to be somebody else to write the other guy's exam?

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