Cheating: Only a Click Away

Another plagiarism concern

Previous posts here have covered related matters including online plagiarism, plagiarism in admissions essays and a video attempting to advise students on plagiarism. A recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at students cheating through the use of clickers.

Kevin D. Livingston, an associate professor of biology at Trinity University, in Texas, was told by students in his genetics course that other students had used clickers to cheat on homework. Instead of grading assignments individually, he had used clickers to poll students on homework questions in class. He was dismayed to learn that some students had simply shared homework answers during the clicker poll to get credit instead of actually doing the problem sets beforehand.

He also teaches an introductory-biology course in which clicker questions and attendance constitute 20 percent of the grade. He assumes there is some cheating using the devices but leaves it up to students themselves to report abuse, since cheating can nullify hard, honest studying. “I can’t spend all my energy trying to police cheating,” he says.


It goes on. Whilst clickers are clearly commonplace in North America I’m not sure how widespread their use is in the UK. And I’d be surprised if we have the kind of problems described here:

Mr. Bruff, the clicker expert and a fan of the devices, says the concerns about cheating are not exaggerated: He sees students boasting about it on Twitter. “I saw one where a guy took a photo with his camera of the clickers he had on his desk—his and four of his friends’—and he was basically bragging about it.” Mr. Bruff says he attends education-technology conferences throughout the country and is constantly asked how to curb abuse.

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