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
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
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.