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To stop cheats, colleges learn their trickery

As the eternal temptation of students to cheat has gone high-tech, educators have responded with their own efforts to crack down, reports the New York Times. The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating might be at the testing center of the University of Central Florida: No gum is allowed during an exam, because chewing could disguise a student’s speaking into a hands-free cell phone to an accomplice outside. The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desktops, so that anyone trying to photograph the screen to help a friend who will take the test later is easy to spot. Scratch paper is allowed, but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student’s real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence. Taylor Ellis, the associate dean who runs the testing center within the business school at Central Florida, the nation’s third-largest campus by enrollment, said cheating had dropped significantly, to 14 suspected incidents out of 64,000 exams administered during the spring semester. “I will never stop it completely, but I’ll find out about it,” Ellis said. This summer, as incoming freshmen fill out forms to select roommates and courses, some colleges—Duke and Bowdoin among them—are also requiring them to complete online tutorials about plagiarism before they can enroll. And anti-plagiarism services requiring students to submit papers to be vetted for copying is a booming business: 55 percent of colleges and universities now use such a service, according to the Campus Computing Survey…

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