7.3. Tips for Preventing Cheating

  • Clarify what is and is not permitted. Rules should be posted somewhere students can easily refer to them (e.g., the course web page). (Note: it is university policy that each syllabus should have a section on academic misconduct. However, it is often useful to have additional, more detailed information posted as needed.)
  • Talk with the instructor (and other TAs) about what is and is not acceptable behavior for students. Do this especially if either you are not sure yourself what is or is not acceptable, or if there are some class rules (e.g., amount of collaboration on assignments) that you are not entirely sure about. We want to avoid the situation where the instructor is telling students one thing, and a TA is telling them something different.
  • The class should have reasonable collaboration rules. For example, telling student that they can never discuss anything about assignments is unreasonable.
  • Get to know students. Students are more likely to cheat if they think that the professor and TAs do not know who they are.
  • Be careful with sensitive information like grading keys. Do not leave them laying around unattended, or in unprotected computer files. Never let a student use your computer account.
  • Log homework when it is handed in. Otherwise, if you are TAing a large class and passing homework among a number of TAs in the course of grading it, it is difficult to tell whether a "missing" assignment was lost during grading, or was never handed in.
  • If possible, have students use alternate seating during exams.
  • If alternate seating is not possible, and if you are developing an exam, make different versions of exams.
  • Clarify (in advance) what, if any, types of computing devices can be used during exams. Remember, "calculators" can store an immense amount of information, and students with a laptop, cell phone, etc. may be able to access outside information from the exam classrooms.
  • If you are developing an exam, make it an open book exam if appropriate.
  • If you are developing an exam, make sure it is reasonable and fair and can be finished in the time allotted.
  • Have multiple proctors for exams. When proctoring, circulate around the room rather than being in a fixed location.
  • When grading, circle and/or comment on what is incorrect to prevent students from correcting mistakes after grading and asking for more points. Mark empty pages or large blank spaces to prevent students from filling them in after grading.
  • On assignments and exams, have students show their work rather than just giving a correct final answer or result.
  • If you catch someone cheating or otherwise engaging in suspicious activity, take appropriate action. Students are more likely to cheat if they think others in the class are doing so without consequence.