Millions of college students use Chegg, which professors say enables cheating – and possibly blackmail

Professors say misuse of Chegg, an online learning platform, can enable cheating or blackmail.

An apparent good Samaritan had bad news for math professor Juan Gutiérrez: One of his students cheated on an exam. 

The person, who identified himself as an incoming graduate student in the USA, said he helped an undergraduate on a test after the two connected online. The emailer said he worked for Chegg, a website that sells itself as a one-stop shop for collegians who need help with their studies.

Some academics and students know Chegg for another reason: claims it enables   cheating in the classroom. 

“It pains me to see students taking undue advantage of the pandemic situation to boost their GPA without putting any effort,” the emailer   told Gutiérrez. 

Gutiérrez snapped into action and got in touch with his student, who complicated the narrative.   Days earlier, the Texas student said, he had received an email threatening to disclose he had used Chegg to fraudulently complete his coursework unless he paid off the person via PayPal. 

“I have sources everywhere and understand you have an exam coming up," the threatening email read. "It will be a shame if something happened regarding the score." 

Gutiérrez was angry, but his ire probably surprised the would-be whistleblower. 

“Extorting anyone is a crime,” he wrote back. 

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Vulnerable to blackmail?

For years, professors have lamented the use of college-help websites such as Chegg in academic dishonesty. Students who use the sites, especially with their real names, make themselves vulnerable to possible attempts of blackmail, experts said. 

To Gutiérrez, chair of the mathematics department at the University of Texas, San Antonio, the possible blackmail was a far more serious issue. He told the sender, whom he suspected was an Indian national, that he had alerted the State Department. The emailer went dark, but Gutiérrez posted screenshots of the incident on Twitter with a warning to students.

Kshitij Karan, whose name was on both the threat and the note to the professor, told USA TODAY he had not sent the threatening message to the student, but he had reached out to Gutierrez. He suggested the email containing the threat had been doctored. 

The Texas undergraduate did not respond to requests for comment.

Chegg denied the student and the alleged blackmailer had met on its platform. Despite a screenshot showing a Chegg question that was referenced in emails between the two, Chegg said it could not find a record of the question being sent. 

"We immediately conducted our own internal investigation and can categorically say that we have found no evidence that this exchange took place on the Chegg platform," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. "It is technically impossible for there to be no record of the question if it was in fact posted on our platform."

Misuse of online platforms for cheating is not unique to Chegg. The company is one of many that operate alongside the country’s higher education system without the same   rules or responsibilities colleges bear. The business started as a purveyor of textbook rentals in 2005 – a service it still offers – but added services such as writing help, test prep and other homework help. 

It had 6.6 million subscribers across 190 countries in the 2020 fiscal year, making it one of the largest education technology companies in the world. The company's market capitalization was as high as $14 billion this year but is now about $4.5 billion.  

College help is a lucrative business: Harvard grad made millions on US college admissions for international students

Chegg's test prep and homework help come either through live experts or a cache of questions from textbooks and exams. If students need help with a math problem, they can upload a photo of it to Chegg. An answer, complete with how to solve it, can come back within minutes. 

Professors said students have used the service in exams, snapping pictures surreptitiously with their phones and peeking when the answers come in.

Cheating in college is nothing new, but some feared the increased online learning spurred by the pandemic would lead to even more academic dishonesty, enabled by websites such as Chegg. 

Chegg denies that characterization and said its users agree in its terms of service not to use the platform to cheat. It cooperates with schools looking to find cheaters.

A new product, Chegg said, even allows professors to upload their tests before the scheduled exam dates. The tool prevents students from accessing the material in the given time range. 

“We constantly work to prevent misuse of our site,” the company's statement said, “including reminding subscribers about our Honor Code before they submit questions, and providing tips and information to students and faculty on how to properly use and not use Chegg services.”

What is Chegg?

Chegg, like other education technology websites, saw major growth during the pandemic as  universities were forced to pivot instruction online . A company spokesman said Chegg grew by 67% in 2020   from the previous year. 

Students can pay $15 to $20 a month to access the site.   Along with receiving help with questions from their course material, they can get help with essays, view flashcards or take practice exams. 

Company officials said they're aware some students use its services to cheat but that Chegg works with universities to try to address the behavior. David Rettinger, a professor at the University of Mary Washington who studies academic dishonesty, said Chegg is notable for its transparency and willingness to work with academic institutions compared with other sites offering similar services. 

Cheating may be on the company’s radar, but officials said it has never dealt with an accusation of extortion. 

The Texas incident, according to Gutiérrez’s account and screenshots of the alleged exchange, started on Chegg. The student told Gutiérrez he posted a question about his calculus homework involving tangent lines. The company specifically denied the existence of the post.

Two days later, the email threatening the student arrived. It read, “I posted a solution on your Chegg post a few days ago regarding tangent lines.” The sender, according to the return email, was named Kshitij Karan. 

Gutiérrez’s class had an exam that month. The email accusing the student of cheating arrived the next day, again bearing Karan's name. 

To Gutiérrez, it seems clear his student posted a question to Chegg and was blackmailed. He was further convinced when the student was able to produce Karan’s name before Gutiérrez shared it with him.

“By chance, is this regarding a person by the name of Kshitij?” the student wrote to Gutierrez on Sept. 29. “I have been getting harassed by him, but I just thought he was trying to get money out of me.” 

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Karan disagrees with that account. He said he works for Chegg and other learning platforms to supplement his income.

He said he sometimes takes practice tests for students and charges them a fee for his services. In this case, Karan said, the student contacted him through Discord, a messaging app.

Karan said he completed the test as requested by the student, then realized it was a real exam. He reached out to Gutiérrez, and that’s when he said he learned of the threatening email sent to the student. He suggested the student could have doctored the sender's information.

Karan's Discord tag calls into question his account. The same username appears in multiple posts on Reddit forums where students seek others to do their assignments for pay. In one post with Karan's Discord tag, the writer identifies himself as a "verified" Chegg tutor and says he can offer help with homework, for pay. In other posts, Karan's Discord tag appears in forums with names such as "Paid homework" or "hwforcash." The latter forum bears a simple description: "Pay reddit to do your homework for you."  

Karan said he was trying to reach people who might need a tutor, not trying to complete their coursework for cash. 

Gutiérrez doesn’t buy Karan’s story. 

“Everything follows a perfect timeline,” Gutiérrez said. “And everything fits perfectly.”

Gutiérrez has been communicating with Chegg, and he described its answers as a smokescreen. He said he never claimed the incident occurred on the company’s platform. Instead, he said, the student used Chegg, then made an error by including his personal information on the website. That made him vulnerable to harassment outside the platform, Gutiérrez said. 

Chegg denied Karan has worked for its site. The company said it can't find an account tied to the student. Students often share Chegg accounts, so it can be difficult to track individual users. 

Joe Izbrand, a spokesman for the University of Texas, San Antonio, confirmed the university was aware of the incident and addressing it, but it would not provide more details in compliance with federal laws regarding students' privacy. The university released a statement saying it had "previously addressed alleged academic dishonesty incidents involving students and Chegg."

'Chegg will narc' 

In October 2020, months after the pandemic forced many classes online, Redditors on a forum for Ohio State University students had a problem. They had heard some of their peers were busted using Chegg on an organic chemistry test in April, and they weren't sure they could trust Chegg to protect their identities. 

Jake Conway, then a student   at OSU, had an idea to get to the bottom of what happened. He’d use a public records request to   ask for the emails between the professor in question, Andrea Baldwin, and Chegg.

His plan worked. He shared the documents in a post. 

The emails show Baldwin coordinated with the university’s Office of Academic Affairs to ask Chegg for the names of students who would have accessed relevant material at the time of her test. Chegg handed over   the email addresses and other non-financial   information tied to the student profiles.

Conway said he expected to learn the company shared the names and emails. He questioned how Chegg could have been sure the people listed had actually been the ones using the account since students commonly share accounts. 

Conway's takeaway was clear. He warned his classmates: “Chegg will narc you out upon request.”

To the Redditors, the solution was simple: Don’t cheat, or if you do, use a different name and email address. 

'Optional' test scores?  Colleges say SAT, ACT is optional for application, but families don’t believe them

Benjamin Johnson, an Ohio State University spokesman, confirmed that in 2020, several professors raised concerns about students using Chegg during exams and quizzes. He said the university coordinated with the company to learn which students visited the site during tests. 

Johnson stopped short of saying whether students were punished for using the site, but he did say, "Students can be charged with violating the Student Code of Conduct."

Though the university and Chegg streamlined the process for reporting academic misconduct cases, Baldwin said cheating hasn't stopped. 

Can laws stop cheating?

To deter cheating, it helps to understand its motive. Many students who cheat feel as though they can’t ask their professors for help. They may have fallen behind in their coursework and see an outsider as their only option, said Rettinger, who oversees the University of Mary Washington's academic integrity programs.

“The bulk of students make a bad choice on a bad day,” he said. “We have a responsibility to educate them.”

It’s likely students cheated more during pandemic shutdowns, Rettinger said. Students cheat, he said, when they're not engaged in their classes or suspect their professors are indifferent about them.

Cats in class, porn on Zoom: How online learning went in the early days of the pandemic

Cheating knows no nationality, and some countries have taken aggressive steps to curb the behavior. Among them is Australia, which in 2014 saw a massive cheating scandal in which students paid ghostwriters to craft their essays. 

The Australian government passed a law in 2018 aiming to stop this type of academic fraud. Its law is directed at “those who provide and advertise cheating services and not at students,” according to Australia's Department of Education, Skills and Employment.  

In Australia, cheating probably increased during pandemic shutdowns, but that's hard to quantify, said Cath Ellis, an associate dean and professor studying academic cheating at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Ellis said blackmail is a known issue in the industry, but it remains difficult to document. Even web forums focused on helping students cheat on their coursework tell potential customers to be wary of people who might extort them.  

Arc – UNSW Student Life at Ellis' institution offers guidance for those who may find themselves the target of blackmail . It stresses the university will help the victims navigate the situation but only if they're willing to admit their academic dishonesty. 

Despite the support for curbing online cheating, it's difficult to craft legislation that does so, Ellis said. Often, tutors are in different countries than the students they help. Cheating on a test isn’t a crime, so it doesn’t make sense for laws to target students. 

Instead, these types of laws have focused on intermediaries. Law prevents some essay-writing services from operating in Australia; they are legal in the USA.

Part of the challenge, Ellis said, is navigating the distinction between how companies advertise themselves and how students actually use the product.

On the front end, an essay-writing company may promise original content that students can use as their own. Yet in the fine print, they say their product is supposed to be used only as a model for learning. 

“The story they tell in the shop window," Ellis said, "is very different to the story they’re telling in the terms and conditions."

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EdTech Goes Undercover: An Insider’s View of What Students Post on Contract Cheating Sites

Amelia Pang

Amelia Pang is a journalist and an editor at EdTech: Focus on Higher Education. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Mother Jones, and  The New York Times Sunday Review, among other publications.

Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part investigation. Part 2 covers how IT departments can detect and prevent contract cheating in higher education.

“Please complete my assignment,” a student posts on a microtutoring website that universities say  facilitates contract cheating . The assignment is on the history of public health. APA format. Three sources. At least 750 words. In less than 15 minutes,  EdTech  sees a university ghostwriter accepting the assignment for $20.

There are hundreds of “homework help” websites that have seen an  exponential increase in customers  since the start of the pandemic. The services offered on sites like these typically run the gamut of legitimate tutoring to selling exam documents and answers. Some flat out offer to take an entire online course or exam for students.

The shadow industry of contract cheating falls into a legal gray area. When students and tutors make an account on a homework help site, they must sign a terms-of-service agreement and honor code that forbids academic cheating. But an undercover  EdTech  investigation found this agreement appears to be rarely enforced.

“I have definitely seen an increase in customers since the pandemic began,” Alex, an academic ghostwriter who currently works for a homework help site, tells  EdTech.  “Specifically, there has been an increase in the number of students posting that they want full online classes done for them. Most of the time, students have no problem finding a contractor.”

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What Is Contract Cheating, and How Does It Work?

To avoid legal liability, some homework help sites are using automation tools to edit the language of posts. Whenever students submit a post, the first line always says something like “I need help understanding the assignment,” or “Help me learn.”

But  EdTech  saw this as mostly a cursory statement. Many students will also directly say, “Please complete my assignment.” Some even go so far as to request that the “tutor” be available at a certain date and time to take an online exam for them.

“I would say that 30 percent of the requests are for ‘help’ versus completing assignments,”  a tutor for one of these sites told BRIGHT Magazine in 2016.  “It is largely a place for students to cheat.”

When  EdTech  created a tutor account at a homework help site earlier this year, we found that not much has changed since the BRIGHT Magazine article came out five years ago.

An insider's view of what students post on contract cheating sites.

An insider's view of what students post on contract cheating sites.

An insider's view of what students post on contract cheating sites.

Although students are blatantly asking for “tutors” to complete assignments and exams for them,  EdTech  saw academic ghostwriters making bids and accepting the work — often within minutes.

Students Hire Academic Ghostwriters to Take Online Courses for Them

Former and current academic ghostwriters also say that taking an entire online course for students is a common practice in the industry — a practice that has existed since the inception of online education. “That was always standard operating procedure,” says Dave Tomar, a former academic ghostwriter who started his decade-long career in contract cheating in 2000. He is currently the managing editor of  Academic Influence , where he  shares his insights  on how educators can counter the surge of contract cheating during the pandemic.

“When I started doing this, I would frequently get these full online modules at the beginning of a rolling semester," Tomar says. “I got the full syllabus, and everything that I was expected to do over the next couple of months. Now, with countless students forced into remote learning, you have a whole new customer pool that is growing.”

As for how much students are willing to pay, the contractors charge “anywhere from $300 to $700 for a full class depending on the student, the subject and the difficulty,” says Alex, who currently works for a homework help site.

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE:   Read Part 2 – What can universities do about contract cheating?

Fake Tutors Entice Unknowing Students to Engage in Contract Cheating

Academic cheating sites also strongly encourage students to sell their coursework— an act that may be illegal in 17 states.

“Distributing any post-secondary assignment for a profit with reasonable knowledge that it will be submitted by another person for academic credit is a crime in many US states,” Citron Research, an investment research firm that investigates overvalued fraudulent companies, stated in  a report.

It’s a big problem for many institutions. According to Douglas Harrison, vice president and dean of the school of cybersecurity and information technology at the  University of Maryland Global Campus , some of these contract cheating websites are “facilitating massive transfers of institutional proprietary material into their file-sharing systems.”

Harrison says many students may not even realize they are cheating when they download a university’s copyrighted classroom assessment materials because these websites reframe downloading answers to tests as a form of studying or tutoring. “They reframe file-sharing as educational, even though these are behaviors that conventional norms of academic integrity would consider misconduct,” he says.

Dave Tomar, former academic ghostwriter.

Dave Tomar former academic ghostwriter.

To make matters worse, these websites have mastered sophisticated techniques to lure unsuspecting students. Several of these prominent homework tutoring sites will offer to give students a discount if they let their academic ghostwriter have access to the online course. This often results in the contract cheater stealing other students’ personal information.

“So the contract cheater then reaches out to other students and says, ‘I’m a tutor in your course. And I’ve helped another student in your class with their assignments. Would you like a little help?’” Harrison says, describing how the contract cheater pitches cheating “services” to other students.

This can be especially confusing for students, who may not know how to tell the difference between a contract cheater and a legitimate tutor who is affiliated with the university.

“Most of the students who we find in academic misconduct settings after inappropriately using materials on these sites, they did not set out to be malicious cheaters. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable, but we have to hold them accountable in proportion to the root cause of the situation,” Harrison says.

Who Is Using Academic Ghostwriters?

According to the ghostwriters who are contracted to help students cheat, their customers are usually underserved students who need access to remedial courses, and nontraditional students who struggle to balance coursework with full-time employment.

“I would argue that what is facilitating the surge of contract cheating is the fact that students are increasingly desperate and lacking support,” says Tomar.

During Tomar’s time as an academic ghostwriter, he caught glimpses into their personal circumstances. “Some would tell you they are a parent working full time. And they just can’t deal with this challenge right now. Some say, ‘I’ve invested X number of dollars into this education, and I cannot afford to fail this class. But I don’t know how to do this assignment.’”

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Alex mentions that many are also English language learners. “As I noted, some students are asking for whole classes to be done, and a lot of those are English or writing-intensive courses,” he says. “That does not mean that they are ESL, but [my sense is] most of them are.”

To fundamentally address the cheating pandemic, universities and colleges may need to invest in more resources for vulnerable student populations.

“It begins with figuring out who’s struggling, why they’re struggling and what we can do to help them before they end up as contract cheating customers,” Tomar says.

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When does getting help on an assignment turn into cheating?

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Students – whether at university or school – can get help from many places. They can go to a tutor, parent, teacher, a friend or consult a textbook.

But at which point does getting help cross the line into cheating?

Sometimes it’s clear. If you use a spy camera or smartwatch in an exam, you’re clearly cheating. And you’re cheating if you get a friend to sit an exam for you or write your assignment.

At other times the line is blurry. When it’s crossed, it constitutes academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for yourself or others.

What about getting someone else to read a draft of your essay? What if they do more than proofread and they alter sections of an assignment? Does that constitute academic misconduct?

Learning, teaching or cheating?

There are a wide range of activities that constitute academic misconduct. These can include:

fabrication, which is just making things up. I could say “90 % of people admit to fabricating their assignments”, when this is not a fact but a statement I just invented

falsification, which is manipulating data to inaccurately portray results. This can occur by taking research results out of context and drawing conclusions not supported by data

misrepresentation, which is falsely representing yourself. Did you know I have a master’s degree from the University of Oxford on this topic? (Actually, I don’t)

plagiarism, which is when you use other people’s ideas or words without appropriate attribution. For instance, this list came from other people’s research and it is important to reference the source.

Sometimes students and teachers have different ideas of academic misconduct. One study found around 45% of academics thought getting someone else to correct a draft could constitute academic misconduct. But only 32% of students thought the same thing.

Read more: Assessment design won’t stop cheating, but our relationships with students might

In the same survey, most academics and students agreed having someone else like a parent or friend identify errors in a draft assignment, as opposed to correcting them, was fine.

cheating on homework reddit

Generally when a lecturer, teacher or another marker is assessing an assignment they need to establish the authenticity of the work. Authenticity means having confidence the work actually relates to the performance of the person being assessed, and not of another person.

The Australian government’s vocational education and training sector’s quality watchdog, for instance, considers authenticity as one of four so-called rules of evidence for an “effective assessment”.

The rules are:

validity, which is when the assessor is confident the student has the skills and knowledge required by the module or unit

sufficiency, which is when the quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence is enough for the assessor to make a judgement

authenticity, where the assessor is confident the evidence presented for assessment is the learner’s own work

currency, where the assessor is confident the evidence relates to what the student can do now instead of some time in the past.

Generally speaking, if the assessor is confident the work is the product of a student’s thoughts and where help has been provided there is proper acknowledgement, it should be fine.

Why is cheating a problem?

It’s difficult to get a handle on how big the cheating problem is. Nearly 30% of students who responded to a 2012 UK survey agreed they had “submitted work taken wholly from an internet source” as their own.

In Australia, 6% of students in a survey of 14,000 reported they had engaged in “outsourcing behaviours” such as submitting someone else’s assignment as their own, and 15% of students had bought, sold or traded notes.

Getting someone to help with your assignment might seem harmless but it can hinder the learning process. The teacher needs to understand where the student is at with their learning, and too much help from others can get in the way.

Read more: Children learn from stress and failure: all the more reason you shouldn't do their homework

Some research describes formal education as a type of “ signal ”. This means educational attainment communicates important information about an individual to a third party such as an employer, a customer, or to an authority like a licensing body or government department. Academic misconduct interferes with that process.

cheating on homework reddit

How to deal with cheating

It appears fewer cheaters are getting away with it than before. Some of the world’s leading academic institutions have reported a 40% increase in academic misconduct cases over a three year period.

Technological advances mean online essay mills and “ contract cheating ” have become a bigger problem. This type of cheating involves outsourcing work to third parties and is concerning because it is difficult to detect .

Read more: 15% of students admit to buying essays. What can universities do about it?

But while technology has made cheating easier, it has also offered sophisticated systems for educators to verify the work is a person’s own. Software programs such as Turnitin can check if a student has plagiarised their assignment.

Institutions can also verify the evidence they are assessing relates to a student’s actual performance by using a range of assessment methods such as exams, oral presentations, and group assignments.

Academic misconduct can be a learning and cultural issue . Many students, particularly when they are new to higher education, are simply not aware what constitutes academic misconduct. Students can often be under enormous pressure that leads them to make poor decisions.

It is possible to deal with these issues in a constructive manner that help students learn and get the support they need. This can include providing training to students when they first enrol, offering support to assist students who may struggle, and when academic misconduct does occur, taking appropriate steps to ensure it does not happen again.

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EdSurge Podcast

More students are using chegg to cheat. is the company doing enough to stop it, by jeffrey r. young     feb 23, 2021.

More Students Are Using Chegg to Cheat. Is the Company Doing Enough to Stop It?

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This article is part of the guide: The EdSurge Podcast.

The pandemic has dramatically altered teaching and learning, and one side effect seems to be a rise in cheating on quizzes and tests, aided by websites designed to help students study.

Students were used to being watched as they took tests in-person, says Tricia Bertram Gallant, a board member of the International Center for Academic Integrity and the director of the Academic Integrity Office at the University of California San Diego. But as courses rushed online during the pandemic, things changed. “All of a sudden,” she says, “there was temptation and opportunity that never existed for them before during exams.”

Professors are seeing cases of cheating during exams skyrocket as a result. At Boston University and at Georgia Tech , officials have launched probes since the start of the pandemic into students using study-help sites for cheating.

The biggest facilitator appears to be Chegg, which has become synonymous with cheating. Many students use the term “Chegging” when they describe turning to homework-help sites to copy down answers instead of doing work themselves. A recent investigation by Forbes magazine called Chegg a “superspreader” of cheating; a majority of the 52 students it interviewed said they used it for that purpose.

Meanwhile, business at the company is booming. Its stock price has more than tripled during the pandemic.

Is the company doing enough to keep students from misusing the service? Gallant’s group has some advice.

“If they were truly interested in academic integrity and helping institutions uphold academic integrity, and their sites are truly about helping students learn and not about cheating, then a simple delay from the time of the posting of the question and the answer of the question would help with that,” she said.

But Chegg’s head of academic relations, Candace Sue, says that would stifle appropriate uses of the service. “If a student is stuck on their homework and they need help in the moment that they’re asking, it’s really unfair in our view to make them wait for an artificial delay.”

The company did make some attempt to respond to the concern, with a new feature called Honor Shield, that asks professors to send the company questions it wants the service to block during certain exam windows.

Sue suggested we talk with students to see how they use the service. So we did.

Marjorie Blen, a junior at San Francisco State University who was one of the students we featured in our Pandemic Campus Diaries podcast series , offered her thoughts on the appeal of homework-help sites.

“I feel like it’s really unrealistic for the professors to say, ‘Don’t use this, don’t do that.’ Because we are at home. We can’t go to the library. We don’t have interactions here we can say, ‘I got this answer wrong. Can you help me?’” Blen says, adding that in some ways students are forced to teach themselves.

The tough question now is whether issues of cheating and homework-help sites will continue to flare up after the pandemic.

“I think the transition back is going to be just as hard as a transition to remote learning,” she says, since students are developing new habits.

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts , Overcast , Spotify , Stitcher , Google Play Music , or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.

Music in this episode is “ Talltell ,” by BlueDot Sessions.

Jeffrey R. Young ( @jryoung ) is the higher education editor at EdSurge and the producer and host of the EdSurge Podcast . He can be reached at jeff [at] edsurge [dot] com.

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Why Students Cheat on Homework and How to Prevent It

One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching in today’s world is the cheating epidemic. There’s nothing more irritating than getting halfway through grading a large stack of papers only to realize some students cheated on the assignment. There’s really not much point in teachers grading work that has a high likelihood of having been copied or otherwise unethically completed. So. What is a teacher to do? We need to be able to assess students. Why do students cheat on homework, and how can we address it?

Like most new teachers, I learned the hard way over the course of many years of teaching that it is possible to reduce cheating on homework, if not completely prevent it. Here are six suggestions to keep your students honest and to keep yourself sane.

ASSIGN LESS HOMEWORK

One of the reasons students cheat on homework is because they are overwhelmed. I remember vividly what it felt like to be a high school student in honors classes with multiple extracurricular activities on my plate. Other teens have after school jobs to help support their families, and some don’t have a home environment that is conducive to studying.

While cheating is  never excusable under any circumstances, it does help to walk a mile in our students’ shoes. If they are consistently making the decision to cheat, it might be time to reduce the amount of homework we are assigning.

I used to give homework every night – especially to my advanced students. I wanted to push them. Instead, I stressed them out. They wanted so badly to be in the Top 10 at graduation that they would do whatever they needed to do in order to complete their assignments on time – even if that meant cheating.

When assigning homework, consider the at-home support, maturity, and outside-of-school commitments involved. Think about the kind of school and home balance you would want for your own children. Go with that.

PROVIDE CLASS TIME

Allowing students time in class to get started on their assignments seems to curb cheating to some extent. When students have class time, they are able to knock out part of the assignment, which leaves less to fret over later. Additionally, it gives them an opportunity to ask questions.

When students are confused while completing assignments at home, they often seek “help” from a friend instead of going in early the next morning to request guidance from the teacher. Often, completing a portion of a homework assignment in class gives students the confidence that they can do it successfully on their own. Plus, it provides the social aspect of learning that many students crave. Instead of fighting cheating outside of class , we can allow students to work in pairs or small groups  in class to learn from each other.

Plus, to prevent students from wanting to cheat on homework, we can extend the time we allow them to complete it. Maybe students would work better if they have multiple nights to choose among options on a choice board. Home schedules can be busy, so building in some flexibility to the timeline can help reduce pressure to finish work in a hurry.

GIVE MEANINGFUL WORK

If you find students cheat on homework, they probably lack the vision for how the work is beneficial. It’s important to consider the meaningfulness and valuable of the assignment from students’ perspectives. They need to see how it is relevant to them.

In my class, I’ve learned to assign work that cannot be copied. I’ve never had luck assigning worksheets as homework because even though worksheets have value, it’s generally not obvious to teenagers. It’s nearly impossible to catch cheating on worksheets that have “right or wrong” answers. That’s not to say I don’t use worksheets. I do! But. I use them as in-class station, competition, and practice activities, not homework.

So what are examples of more effective and meaningful types of homework to assign?

  • Ask students to complete a reading assignment and respond in writing .
  • Have students watch a video clip and answer an oral entrance question.
  • Require that students contribute to an online discussion post.
  • Assign them a reflection on the day’s lesson in the form of a short project, like a one-pager or a mind map.

As you can see, these options require unique, valuable responses, thereby reducing the opportunity for students to cheat on them. The more open-ended an assignment is, the more invested students need to be to complete it well.

DIFFERENTIATE

Part of giving meaningful work involves accounting for readiness levels. Whenever we can tier assignments or build in choice, the better. A huge cause of cheating is when work is either too easy (and students are bored) or too hard (and they are frustrated). Getting to know our students as learners can help us to provide meaningful differentiation options. Plus, we can ask them!

This is what you need to be able to demonstrate the ability to do. How would you like to show me you can do it?

Wondering why students cheat on homework and how to prevent it? This post is full of tips that can help. #MiddleSchoolTeacher #HighSchoolTeacher #ClassroomManagement

REDUCE THE POINT VALUE

If you’re sincerely concerned about students cheating on assignments, consider reducing the point value. Reflect on your grading system.

Are homework grades carrying so much weight that students feel the need to cheat in order to maintain an A? In a standards-based system, will the assignment be a key determining factor in whether or not students are proficient with a skill?

Each teacher has to do what works for him or her. In my classroom, homework is worth the least amount out of any category. If I assign something for which I plan on giving completion credit, the point value is even less than it typically would be. Projects, essays, and formal assessments count for much more.

CREATE AN ETHICAL CULTURE

To some extent, this part is out of educators’ hands. Much of the ethical and moral training a student receives comes from home. Still, we can do our best to create a classroom culture in which we continually talk about integrity, responsibility, honor, and the benefits of working hard. What are some specific ways can we do this?

Building Community and Honestly

  • Talk to students about what it means to cheat on homework. Explain to them that there are different kinds. Many students are unaware, for instance, that the “divide and conquer (you do the first half, I’ll do the second half, and then we will trade answers)” is cheating.
  • As a class, develop expectations and consequences for students who decide to take short cuts.
  • Decorate your room with motivational quotes that relate to honesty and doing the right thing.
  • Discuss how making a poor decision doesn’t make you a bad person. It is an opportunity to grow.
  • Share with students that you care about them and their futures. The assignments you give them are intended to prepare them for success.
  • Offer them many different ways to seek help from you if and when they are confused.
  • Provide revision opportunities for homework assignments.
  • Explain that you partner with their parents and that guardians will be notified if cheating occurs.
  • Explore hypothetical situations.  What if you have a late night? Let’s pretend you don’t get home until after orchestra and Lego practices. You have three hours of homework to do. You know you can call your friend, Bob, who always has his homework done. How do you handle this situation?

EDUCATE ABOUT PLAGIARISM

Many students don’t realize that plagiarism applies to more than just essays. At the beginning of the school year, teachers have an energized group of students, fresh off of summer break. I’ve always found it’s easiest to motivate my students at this time. I capitalize on this opportunity by beginning with a plagiarism mini unit .

While much of the information we discuss is about writing, I always make sure my students know that homework can be plagiarized. Speeches can be plagiarized. Videos can be plagiarized. Anything can be plagiarized, and the repercussions for stealing someone else’s ideas (even in the form of a simple worksheet) are never worth the time saved by doing so.

In an ideal world, no one would cheat. However, teaching and learning in the 21st century is much different than it was fifty years ago. Cheating? It’s increased. Maybe because of the digital age… the differences in morals and values of our culture…  people are busier. Maybe because students don’t see how the school work they are completing relates to their lives.

No matter what the root cause, teachers need to be proactive. We need to know why students feel compelled to cheat on homework and what we can do to help them make learning for beneficial. Personally, I don’t advocate for completely eliminating homework with older students. To me, it has the potential to teach students many lessons both related to school and life. Still, the “right” answer to this issue will be different for each teacher, depending on her community, students, and culture.

STRATEGIES FOR ADDRESSING CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS IN SECONDARY

You may also enjoy:.

cheating on homework reddit

You are so right about communicating the purpose of the assignment and giving students time in class to do homework. I also use an article of the week on plagiarism. I give students points for the learning – not the doing. It makes all the difference. I tell my students why they need to learn how to do “—” for high school or college or even in life experiences. Since, they get an A or F for the effort, my students are more motivated to give it a try. No effort and they sit in my class to work with me on the assignment. Showing me the effort to learn it — asking me questions about the assignment, getting help from a peer or me, helping a peer are all ways to get full credit for the homework- even if it’s not complete. I also choose one thing from each assignment for the test which is a motivator for learning the material – not just “doing it.” Also, no one is permitted to earn a D or F on a test. Any student earning an F or D on a test is then required to do a project over the weekend or at lunch or after school with me. All of this reinforces the idea – learning is what is the goal. Giving students options to show their learning is also important. Cheating is greatly reduced when the goal is to learn and not simply earn the grade.

Thanks for sharing your unique approaches, Sandra! Learning is definitely the goal, and getting students to own their learning is key.

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Pippa Biddle

AI Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat

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Denise Garcia knows that her students sometimes cheat, but the situation she unearthed in February seemed different. A math teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut, Garcia had accidentally included an advanced equation in a problem set for her AP Calculus class. Yet somehow a handful of students in the 15-person class solved it correctly. Those students had also shown their work, defeating the traditional litmus test for sussing out cheating in STEM classrooms.

Garcia was perplexed, until she remembered a conversation from a few years earlier. Some former students had told her about an online tool called Wolfram|Alpha that could complete complicated calculations in seconds. It provided both the answers and the steps for reaching them, making it virtually undetectable when copied as homework.

For years, students have turned to CliffsNotes for speedy reads of books, SparkNotes to whip up talking points for class discussions, and Wikipedia to pad their papers with historical tidbits. But today’s students have smarter tools at their disposal—namely, Wolfram|Alpha, a program that uses artificial intelligence to perfectly and untraceably solve equations. Wolfram|Alpha uses natural language processing technology, part of the AI family, to provide students with an academic shortcut that is faster than a tutor, more reliable than copying off of friends, and much easier than figuring out a solution yourself.

Since its release, Wolfram|Alpha has trickled through the education system, finding its way into the homework of college and high school students. Use of Wolfram|Alpha is difficult to trace, and in the hands of ambitious students, its perfect solutions are having unexpected consequences. It works by breaking down the pieces of a question, whether a mathematical problem or something like "What is the center of the United States?", and then cross-referencing those pieces against an enormous library of datasets that is constantly being expanded. These datasets include information on geodesic schemes, chemical compounds, human genes, historical weather measurements, and thousands of other topics that, when brought together, can be used to provide answers.

The system is constrained by the limits of its data library: It can’t interpret every question. It also can’t respond in natural language, or what a human would recognize as conversational speech. This is a stumbling block in AI in general. Even Siri, which relies heavily on Mathematica—another Wolfram Research product and the engine behind Wolfram|Alpha—can only answer questions in programmed response scripts, which are like a series of Mad Libs into which it plugs answers before spitting them out of your speaker or onto your screen.

Using Wolfram|Alpha is similar to executing a Google search, but Wolfram|Alpha delivers specific answers rather than endless pages of potentially relevant results. Anyone can go to the Wolfram|Alpha website, type a question or equation into a dialogue box, hit enter, and receive an answer. If you’re trying to solve x2 + 5x + 6 = 0, Wolfram|Alpha will give you the root plot, alternate forms, and solutions. If you are looking for a step-by-step explanation, there is a pro version available for $6.99/month with discounted options for students and educators.

I first heard about Wolfram|Alpha in my parents' kitchen. My father had come home from his job at a private school in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He dropped his bag on the floor, and asked me what I thought about Wolfram|Alpha. Earlier that day he had been confronted by STEM teachers who were frustrated with their students' use of the tool. It was, they said, blatant cheating. My father had left the office unsure of how to proceed. Should the school crack down on Wolfram|Alpha? Or did the school need to catch up to this new beat in education?

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I’d never heard of it, but a quick post to Facebook revealed that many of my friends had—especially those studying math. Some had used it to get through college calculus, while a few were still using it at their jobs as engineers or quantitative analysts. The rise of Wolfram|Alpha had completely passed over my humanities-minded head, just as, for millions of minds, it had become ubiquitous. Turning to the tech for answers was, they said, normal. At the same time, all made it clear that they didn’t want their use of Wolfram|Alpha to be made public.

Though Wolfram|Alpha was designed to be an educational asset — a way to explore an equation from within— academia has found itself at a loss over how to respond. What some call cheating, others have heralded as a massive step forward in how we learn, what we teach, and what education is even good for. They say that Wolfram|Alpha is the future. Unsurprisingly, its creator agrees.

cheating on homework reddit

Stephen Wolfram, the mind behind Wolfram|Alpha, can’t do long division and didn’t learn his times tables until he’d hit 40. Indeed, the inspiration for Wolfram|Alpha, which he released in 2009, started with Wolfram’s own struggles as a math student. Growing up, Wolfram’s obsession was physics. By 12, he’d written a dictionary on physics, by his early teens he’d churned out three (as yet unpublished) books, and by 15 he was publishing scientific papers.

Despite his wunderkind science abilities, math was a constant stumbling block. He could come up with concepts, but executing calculations was hard. His solution was to get his hands on a computer. By programming it to solve equations and find patterns in data, he could leave the math to the machine and focus his brain on the science. It worked. In 1981, Wolfram became the youngest person to ever receive a MacArthur Fellowship. He was only 21.

Yet the tool that helped Wolfram build his reputation with physics ended up pulling him away from science. Wolfram became obsessed with complex systems and how computers could be used to study them. Five years after receiving his MacArthur Fellowship, Wolfram began developing Mathematica, and in 1988 Wolfram Research announced the release of its flagship product.

Wolfram never planned for his tool to become highbrow CliffsNotes, but he’s not too concerned about it, either. “Mechanical math,” Wolfram argues, “is a very low level of precise thinking.” Instead, Wolfram believes that we should be emphasizing computational thinking —something he describes as “trying to formulate your thoughts so that you can explain them to a sufficiently smart computer.” This has also been called computer-based math. Essentially, knowing algebra in today’s technology-saturated world won’t get you very far, but knowing how to ask a computer to do your algebra will. If students are making this shift, in his mind, they’re just ahead of the curve.

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Alan Joyce, the director of content development for Wolfram Alpha, says that cheating is “absolutely the wrong way to look at what we do.” But the staff understands what might make teachers uncomfortable. Historically, education had to emphasize hand calculations, says John Dixon, a program manager at Wolfram Research. That’s because there wasn’t tech to fall back on and, when tech did start to appear, it wasn’t reliable. Only recently can computers calculate things automatically and precisely, and it’ll take some time for curriculums, and the teachers that are beholden to them, to catch up. Wolfram Research, Dixon says, wants to engage with teachers like Garcia, who are frustrated by the tool, to help them understand how it can help their students.

Indeed, the people who are directing the tool’s development view it as an educational equalizer that can give students who don’t have at-home homework helpers—like tutors or highly educated and accessible parents—access to what amounts to a personal tutor. It also has enormous potential within the classroom. A "show steps" button, which reveals the path to an answer, allows teachers to break down the components of a problem, rather than getting bogged down in mechanics. The "problem generator" can pull from real datasets to create relevant examples. “When you start to show educators the potential,” Dixon says, “you can see points where their eyes light up.”

cheating on homework reddit

For every teacher who’s converted to Dixon’s camp, there are multitudes of students who have been there for a while. As Alexander Feiner, an aspiring engineer and high school freshman told me, Wolfram|Alpha is a study aid, not a way of avoiding work — something that Dixon insists is the norm when it comes to out-of-classroom student use.

Still, the prevailing notion that Wolfram|Alpha is a form of cheating doesn’t appear to be dissipating. Much of this comes down to what homework is. If the purpose of homework is build greater understanding of concepts as presented in class, Joyce is adamant that teachers should view Wolfram|Alpha as an asset. It’s not that Wolfram Alpha has helped students “‘get through’ a math class by doing their homework for them,” he says, “but that we helped them actually understand what they were doing” in the first place. Dixon believes that Wolfram|Alpha can build confidence in students who don’t see themselves as having mathematical minds. Homework isn’t really about learning to do a calculation, but rather about learning to find and understand an answer regardless of how the calculation is executed.

That’s the route down which education appears to be headed. Once upon a time, education was all about packing as much information as possible into a human brain. Information was limited and expensive, and the smartest people were effectively the deepest and most organized filing cabinets. Today, it’s the opposite.“The notion of education as a transfer of information from experts to novices—and asking the novices to repeat that information, regurgitate it on command as proof that they have learned it—is completely disconnected from the reality of 2017,” says David Helfand, a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University.

The technology isn’t going anywhere: Like copying out of the back of a book or splitting a problem set among friends, students aren’t likely to stop using Wolfram|Alpha just because a teacher says so. Even Garcia can see a future where Wolfram|Alpha fits in. “I think, in an ideal world, teachers, myself included, need to do a better job of incorporating technology…and finding ways of using it in productive ways,” she says.

Just as robotics has transformed manufacturing, tools like Wolfram|Alpha are forcing us to rethink an educational system by challenging it to rise to the new technological standard. Either we reshape our schools to embrace tools like Wolfram|Alpha, or we risk becoming living artifacts in a rapidly progressing world.

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The AI Cheating Crisis: Education Needs Its Anti-Doping Movement

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Since launching in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence, has been compared to “steroids” numerous times. “ChatGPT is like steroids for your skills,” says one Reddit user. It’s “Google on steroids,” claims a journalism professor. AI will be like Photoshop but “on steroids,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told a U.S. Senate subcommittee last year.

Perhaps “steroids” is the right term. Like steroids in sports, generative AI could create a global cheating crisis that undermines the purpose and value of an education.

International sporting had its ChatGPT moment in 1998 when French customs agents found narcotics, testosterone, amphetamines, growth hormones, and syringes inside the car of Willy Voet, the caretaker of the Festina cycling team, on his way to the Tour de France. Further investigation revealed that the entire Festina team took banned substances in coordination with their management and doctors. All three medalists in the 1998 Tour de France were later found to have been doping.

Subsequent doping scandals in Major League Baseball and other major athletic leagues further tarnished the reputation of sports as a fair and meritocratic institution.

The rise of “AI doping” is strikingly similar. In a Study.com survey of 1,000 college-age students, 89 percent of respondents admitted to using ChatGPT to complete a homework assignment. Another 48 percent admitted to using it on at-home tests or quizzes, and 53 percent had the bot write an essay. Yet, 72 percent of the students reported believing ChatGPT should be banned from campus networks.

Are they hypocrites? No. When enough players in a competitive game can cheat with a high upside and low risk of consequences, other players will feel forced to cheat as well. As Lance Armstrong told the French newspaper Le Monde in 2013, several months after publicly admitting he had used performance-enhancing drugs, it was “impossible to win the Tour de France without doping.”

If enough students improve their grades using ChatGPT, their peers may conclude that it’s “impossible” to compete unless they cheat, too. In cycling, not doping meant losing competition winnings and sponsorships. In education, not using generative AI could mean losing out on college admissions, scholarships, and career opportunities.

At the height of the sports doping crisis, a common argument was to let doping happen. If no substance is banned, isn’t the playing field level? The counterargument is that substances are banned because they pose a health risk to athletes. If sporting organizations not only allowed but tacitly encouraged athletes to dope, the resulting biochemical arms race would have a sure loser: athletes and their well-being.

Likewise, the normalization of AI doping would create an arms race among students, resulting in several consequences for them and society:

1. Unchecked use of AI renders education pointless. We fund public education as a common good because it empowers citizens to live fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities. If the point of education is merely to get a diploma, then who cares if a student or AI does the work? The true point of an education, however, is to train a person’s mind and character. Claiming that students no longer need to learn skills like writing—because AI does it—is like arguing that no one should strength train because carts and forklifts move heavy stuff for us. This conflates means and ends. People lift weights for the inherent benefits to their mind and body. Likewise, we learn to write for the inherent benefits to our cognition and communication skills.

2. AI threatens to undermine academic integrity, the foundation for professional credibility. We trust our surgeon, certified public accountant, or lawyer because we trust the institutions that test, certify, and employ them. Well, researchers have found that ChatGPT can pass the U.S. medical licensing exam, CPA exam, and bar exam . You might argue that cheating on those exams is almost impossible. But what about an online nursing exam, an online certification in cybersecurity, or an online degree in social work? A person who cheats for the credential in those cases could become a danger to others.

3. The struggle to maintain academic credibility could produce a two-tiered education system that is even more inequitable than the current one. Elite colleges with full-time professors and graduate students have the resources to design assignments in which AI provides no edge. Community colleges and online education platforms don’t have that luxury. A class with hundreds of students and one part-time instructor cannot convert every digital test into an original research project or in-person test with pencils and paper—not without raising costs considerably. Efforts to democratize education will be laughable if the only credible degrees come from private, in-person institutions that cost students an average of almost $56,000 per year.

K-12 schools will experience similar inequities, particularly between expensive private schools and crowded public schools. Schools with lower student-teacher ratios are better positioned to design assignments that limit students’ reliance on AI than schools with more limited staff and resources.

So how do we address AI’s threat to academic integrity and an affordable education?

Forget watermarking AI-generated text and AI detectors—they’re easily duped. And forget academic “honor codes.” In my birth country of Afghanistan, the strict honor codes of Islam that forbid corruption didn’t stop the country from becoming an epicenter of corruption after the United States’ 2001 occupation injected billions of dollars. Like Lance Armstrong, no one struggled to justify corrupt behavior when everyone else was doing it, too.

Exams, whether in person or online, must be proctored such that no one can cheat using AI. That said, to prepare students for the working world, schools should teach generative AI in classrooms using versions with limited capabilities.

The silver lining of the 1998 Tour de France was that the International Olympic Committee formed the World Anti-Doping Agency the following year. Though far from perfect, WADA created a unified list of banned substances and standards for detecting them. In other words, the organization defined what “doping” means in sports. Soon enough, education systems may need a WADA-like organization to define cheating in the AI age and set standards for preventing and detecting it.

Doping in sports undermined the fairness and meritocracy of a beloved institution, until that institution took the threat seriously. It’s time we take AI doping in schools seriously.

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Thomas Lancaster's Blog

Insights from an expert in academic integrity, computer science and higher education

Contract Cheating and Unauthorised Homework Assistance through Reddit Communities

The sheer number of different sources that students can use for contract cheating always amazes me. One of my Imperial College London undergraduate students, Rahul Gupta, asked if he could work with me on a study about contract cheating using Reddit. We were able to get internal funding, collected data and Rahul joined me to present the results at the European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism 2021.

Reddit is an interesting site to look into, as essentially it’s the host of a lot of online communities, primarily text-based, often highly active and often accessed anonymously. It is perhaps unsurprising that we found examples of students asking for homework assistance , both with money exchanged and for free.

You can see the slides we used below (and also on my SlideShare account ).

The sheer number of requests many of the subreddits (individual forums) generate is outstanding. We focused on one such subreddit which is generating over 50,000 posts per year. Not all posts are homework, since these posts also includes replies and discussion, but the high volume of posts also has a viral effect , generating more content to be indexed by Google and therefore driving more traffic from students who are looking for help and support.

Rahul and I hope to present this more formally through other academic channels, but we do encourage other educators to explore Reddit and see the range of questions and cheating opportunities that are out there. Rahul highlighted the wide range of Maths solutions available and a growth in activity during the Covid-19 period ( echoing findings from a study I completed with Codrin Cotarlan ).

The use of an anonymous service like Reddit is not risk free for anyone involved. Rahul highlighted examples of students being scammed and at risk of blackmail , even if they only posted and did not pay anyone, but he also showed that assignments providers were equally at risk, with students using various tricks to get them to complete work for free.

Perhaps most importantly, Rahul talked about being able to identify some of the students and how he had reported them to their universities. He said he had mostly had receptive responses at the news from UK and European universities, but had had less success communicating with universities in the United States. The message to communicate is that contract cheating is not a good option. Other students do care about academic integrity .

My friend and colleague, the late Robert Clarke, spent many years of his life tracking down contract cheating cases and I know that he would be impressed and proud of the work that Rahul and other student academic integrity advocates are doing .

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How Cheating in College Hurts Students

Academic integrity is important, experts say, as plagiarism and other cheating may have severe consequences.

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Experts say the number of students engaging in academic dishonesty during the coronavirus pandemic is soaring.

Cheating in college is risky business loaded with potential consequences – failing classes, suspension, possible expulsion – yet it's common and perhaps more accessible than ever.

"A lot of people cheat a little," says David Pritchard, a physics professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied academic dishonesty in online classes. "There's also a few people who cheat a lot."

Though it may be tempting and feel harmless, experts caution college students to think twice before cheating on coursework. Here's how to know what is typically considered cheating and the potential consequences.

How College Students Cheat

Cheating is a multibillion-dollar business, with some educational technology companies making money off students who use their products to break or bend academic integrity rules and others earning revenue from colleges trying to prevent academic dishonesty.

Students also use classic classroom moves like scribbling hidden notes somewhere or using technology such as smartwatches. Copying a classmate's assignment or plagiarizing parts of published works for a paper remain popular methods.

Many of those tactics appear to have been replaced by artificial intelligence and generative language models like ChatGPT and Google Bard, which offer some services like writing, editing and idea generation for free.

Pritchard notes that ChatGPT has performed well on exams in certain subjects, and the American Bar Association reported in March 2023 that it passed the Uniform Bar Exam by "a significant margin." While some professors say they're keeping an open mind about ChatGPT and similar tools, others say it's impossible to ignore the reality that students are using them to cheat.

ChatGPT "is the future of cheating," Pritchard says.

Rebecca Hamlin, a professor of legal studies and political science at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst , recently joined the university's academic honesty board and has seen cases of students caught cheating with ChatGPT. She caught 12 in her own classes during the spring 2023 semester.

“If students are genuinely interested in learning how to become writers, I’m very resistant to the idea that ChatGPT can help them," she says. “It’s really risky because it’s actually way more obvious to someone who reads really good writing all day long. I can immediately tell."

But plenty of students slip through undetected or cheat in other inconspicuous ways, she says.

Most instructors underestimate just how rampant the issue is, says Eric Anderman, a professor at The Ohio State University and interim dean at its Mansfield campus. "We think we're underestimating it because people don't want to admit to it."

Here's what academic integrity experts say college students should know about the immediate and long-term consequences of cheating.

The Consequences of Cheating in College

Regardless of the cheating method, students are only harming themselves and their learning process, experts say.

“I know that sounds really cheesy, but I kind of don’t really understand why someone is going to waste their time and money going to college if they don’t want to learn how to write," Hamlin says. "That’s probably one of the top two to three skills that you gain when you go to college."

Students also deprive themselves of a genuine feeling of achievement when they cheat, says Russell Monroe, director of academic integrity at Liberty University in Virginia.

"There’s a sense of dignity in knowing that I got a grade that I earned, whether that’s for an assignment or a class," he says. "You can look at your degree with pride knowing this is something I achieved on my own merit and didn’t have to outsource anything to anyone else or steal or plagiarize."

Some penalties can have a lasting effect and financial repercussions. They are often less severe for first-time offenders, but colleges keep records of such behavior. Students who continue to cheat and get caught risk failing a class, receiving academic suspension or being expelled from the school, which may come with a note on their transcript explaining why they were dismissed. This designation will likely make it harder to enroll at another college , experts say.

Students who fail a class due to academic dishonesty are usually allowed to retake it. If it's a class required for graduation, they don't have a choice. Either way, that means more money out of pocket, perhaps in student loans .

Failing a course also typically harms a student's GPA , particularly if they don't retake it and earn a higher grade. This could jeopardize eligibility for financial aid or scholarships and lead to academic probation .

Each school has its own policies and disciplinary measures, and professors may vary in how they address academic dishonesty. Some may handle it on their own while others may send it to a disciplinary committee. It often depends on the severity of cheating, Monroe says. For example, cheating on a discussion board assignment isn't seen as as serious as plagiarizing a dissertation or final exam paper, or cheating on a credential or certification exam, he says.

Plagiarizing on capstone course papers or other assignments tied to graduation is a particularly egregious offense that could jeopardize a student's ability to graduate, experts say.

“We are putting our stamp of approval on you to move on to the next step," Monroe says. "That next step might be graduation, but if we’re doing that based upon bad information or false information, that’s a serious problem.”

Even students who think they got away with cheating may suffer consequences, such as missing out on foundational information that they need to learn and apply in higher-level classes.

Additionally, graduates who cheated and perhaps even ended up with good grades may find themselves starting their career unprepared and lacking needed knowledge and skills. And for jobs that have a safety component, unprepared workers could put themselves and others at risk.

Then there are occasions when academic dishonesty is revealed later and torpedoes a career, sometimes in a public and humiliating way.

Know What Is and Isn't Cheating

While some students are well aware that they're cheating and see it as merely a means to an end, not all forms of academic dishonesty are intentional. In many cases, it's an accident made while under stress or when a student has procrastinated , experts say.

Sometimes students make mistakes because they aren't properly prepared to engage with college-level work. For example, improperly citing sources on a term paper can lead to charges of plagiarism.

"I think part of what happens is students aren't always taught in high school how to cite and evaluate information from the internet," Anderman says. "And I think a lot of them, when they get to college – and this is not an excuse – truly don't realize that you can't just look something up on the internet and put it in your paper, that you still have to cite it, and they get caught."

Colleges commonly use a variety of plagiarism-checking software, such as Turnitin, which flags written work that may be uncited or improperly cited. These tools help keep students honest and significantly decrease plagiarism, experts say.

Some forms of cheating, such as intentional plagiarism, buying papers online or paying someone to complete course work, should be fairly obvious, experts say. This is often referred to as "contract cheating," Monroe says, and it's an offense that can lead to expulsion from Liberty.

"It’s very difficult for us to know when that’s happening, but when we do find out, we view that very seriously because there are significant portions of your entire degree that may not have been done by the student at all," he says.

Other areas aren't as clear-cut, particularly what is permissible when it comes to collaborating with classmates, sharing information and using AI products. Monroe says Liberty doesn't ban the use of AI or tools like ChatGPT, but there are boundaries around their ethical use. Students can use these tools to edit and get inspiration, but any assignment turned in must be the student's original work.

Experts also caution against using online companies that position themselves as tutoring organizations but largely help students cheat. Colleges offer many academic resources that students can use instead, and at no extra cost.

“I would definitely encourage a student who’s facing a tough situation or feels that they can’t do their work on time to contact their professor and see if there’s some kind of alternate arrangement that can be made," Monroe says.

Many professors are willing to accept work late, he says. Liberty’s policy is to take 10% off of an assignment's overall grade if it’s late.

“We definitely prefer a timely submission of work," Monroe says, "but contact your professor. They are definitely willing to work with students within the scope that they’re allowed to. That would definitely be a better situation than turning to cheating."

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Texas Tribune

Texas a&m investigates 'large scale' cheating case in era of online classes.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- An already unusual fall semester was wrapping up when Texas A &M University officials sent out an email in early December to the hundreds of students in an online finance class that set off a panic.

Faculty reported concerns of cheating "on a very large scale" to the Aggie Honor System Office, after they noticed some students in the class answered online test questions too quickly. Later, faculty discovered entire exams posted on a "homework help" website that has become synonymous with cheating.

University officials told guilty students to self-report by 5 p.m. on Dec. 8. If they didn't come forward but were found in violation of the academic honor code, they could face suspension or expulsion.

"If you engaged in this behavior, I would like to encourage you in the strongest way to reclaim your personal integrity," said Timothy Powers, director of the Aggie Honor System Office, in the email to students.

University officials at Texas A &M and experts elsewhere said academic misconduct cases have increased during the pandemic as remote courses and online assignments create more opportunities for students to push the limits.

At Texas A &M, academic dishonesty reports have increased by as much as 20% from last fall, Powers said. The University of North Texas saw a 20% increase, and Texas State University saw reports of cheating increase by one-third over the previous fall. The University of Houston saw reports more than double from last fall to 456 cases as of Dec. 14.

SEE RELATED: What do magic wands have to do with stopping cheating? If you're homeschooling kids, a lot

"Instead of taking an assessment in class where the teacher is watching you, you are at your computer not being watched," said Rachel Davenport, a lecturer at Texas State and vice chair of the Honor Code Council, which reviews academic misconduct cases. "The opportunity has just increased dramatically to use online sources."

In the case at Texas A &M, students interviewed by The Texas Tribune said they used a website called Chegg to access answers on assignments. The website started years ago for textbook rentals and has since expanded to include online tutoring. For a monthly fee, students can submit questions that someone around the world will answer within a few hours. While critics said the site can be helpful for students seeking tutoring, they argue many students are misusing it to pass off another person's work as their own.

According to Powers' email, Texas A &M's online learning platform, Canvas, tracks how long test questions are displayed on a student's screen. He said there are "hundreds of examples" where students answered a question faster than it would take to read it.

Powers said in the email "many, many" students in the finance class had already admitted to either posting questions online so someone else could answer them or searching for already answered questions to complete assignments and tests.

Complaints about the tutoring website from university administrators are widespread. This spring, Georgia Tech University took action against students in a physics class suspected of using Chegg to cheat. Boston University also investigated students in some science classes for inappropriately using Chegg.

In a statement, a Chegg spokesperson said they support academic integrity.

"At Chegg, we believe that expertise and experience is important to actually retain knowledge and apply it in whatever field students seek upon graduation, so we ask students to stick to our Honor Code ," said spokesperson Devonya Batiste.

According to its honor code, Chegg prohibits cheating and will share user information and activity with universities if they suspect foul play.

Batiste would not say whether Texas A &M requested student activity regarding the finance class. Texas A &M would not discuss details of the investigation, including how many students self-reported the cheating. Neither of the two doctorate students who taught the class responded to a request for comment.

Earlier this fall, the International Center for Academic Integrity , an organization that provides resources and trainings to combat cheating in higher education, released a statement condemning the use of third parties to complete assignments, known as contract cheating, which they said appears to be growing during the pandemic.

"Far from being a benign problem, contract cheating has implications for credibility of academic degrees, institutional accreditation and for society as a whole, as the students who engage in contract cheating graduate, enter the workforce, and move into leadership positions," the statement said.

'I should've canceled my account'

Texas A &M's honor code reads: "An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do." The refrain is ingrained in students starting at freshman orientation.

Some students who self-reported cheating to the university said the stress of the ongoing pandemic and the shift to more virtual classes made it more difficult to find study partners or connect with professors in person for help. Those factors contributed to their decision to create an account on Chegg.

"The culmination of the pandemic and its effect on learning, the assignments being open-note and the ease of access to Chegg made the decision to use outside help a lot easier for most students," a junior in the class told the Tribune via email. The student self-reported and asked not to be named because of fear of hurting his future job prospects.

The junior said he started using Chegg to help him with homework because he was struggling with the course material and the online format. Then, he saw exact questions from Chegg appear on a quiz.

"The moment I realized actual exam questions were on Chegg, I should've canceled my account," he said.

While students were allowed to use their notes and textbook during quizzes and tests throughout the semester, it's against policy to access and review test questions before an assessment.

In a letter submitted to the university as part of its investigation, a different unnamed student said professors should have provided more explicit communication about what is acceptable given that many of them were taking a variety of online, hybrid and in-person courses.

A student letter in response to the Texas A &M cheating allegations.

"Using the internet in an attempt to help a student figure out how to solve certain problems, not specifically to give them the answer, was a gray area throughout the course," the student wrote. "When the professor did not ever talk about this gray area and did not monitor the suspicious activity from the beginning, this shaped the general understanding that students held as the course progressed."

Academic integrity experts said providing proactive reminders about what is acceptable helps deter students from cheating. But, they said, common sense should dictate to students when their behavior is considered cheating.

"There's a difference between students using online tools to prepare themselves and learn about things," Powers said. "It's completely different for a student to walk into an exam and have seen the identical questions with the identical multiple choice answers before. That should be different and... they should realize this is inappropriate."

Group messaging

Even before the pandemic, online resources such as GroupMe, a group messaging app, were creating more opportunities for students to cheat. Last year, 70 students at the University of Texas at Austin were disciplined because students shared information about an upcoming test after the professor had prohibited the use of the messaging app.

This fall, some professors at Texas Tech University in Lubbock also saw evidence of cheating through GroupMe, according to emails obtained by the Tribune. In November, the provost's office recommended making final exams available 24 hours before they were due. But this past weekend, multiple professors shared with administrators that they disagreed with that recommendation, arguing it allows students to collaborate or use online help.

"Newsflash: Students ignore the 'Strive for Honor" sermon,'" wrote journalism professor Lyombe Eko in an email to administrators and faculty, referring to Tech's honor code.

Eko said he saw instances of cheating in his Media Law class. At least 25 students answered a question with an obscure incorrect answer not included in his lecture or the textbook.

"Minutes after a test or exam begins, some students post it and discuss it with their peers on GroupMe," Eko wrote. "Some students wait for the answers there before they start to take the exam."

Eko said a student alerted him of the GroupMe account. In the spring, he plans to explicitly tell students that sharing information on GroupMe counts as academic dishonesty.

Texas Tech administrators also suggested that faculty use an online proctoring tool called Proctorio, which prompts students to turn on their microphone and camera so professors can monitor them during an exam. But multiple professors said they felt Proctorio was an invasion of privacy. Students across the country have voiced similar concerns .

Davenport said there are other ways professors can mitigate cheating. She advises professors to search for their questions online to see if they've been posted, to create a large bank of questions so students aren't all taking identical tests and to provide flexibility with deadlines so students don't feel pressured to cheat.

She said many students are more digitally savvy than their professors, especially those who never taught an online course before the pandemic. When courses shifted online rapidly in the spring, preventing cheating wasn't a top priority.

"Many of them are learning, 'what even is Chegg?'" she said. "They're trying to catch up with so many other things that that kind of took a back seat."

Chegg isn't the only problem site out there. As soon as some professors get a handle on one website, a similar one pops up. Davenport said there's even websites where students can pay someone to take their entire online class for them.

Two Aggie students who spoke to the Tribune and self-reported their misconduct received failing grades for the class and have been placed on academic probation until they complete an academic integrity program. They are also barred from graduating with honors.

Texas A &M administrators said that as of Dec. 14, no students had been suspended or expelled, but it could take as long as a month to navigate that process, not including winter break. Students can also appeal if they believe the punishment was too harsh.

One Aggie senior who said he self-reported and received an F in the class said he's relieved he wasn't expelled. He also asked not to be named for fear of repercussions for speaking out against the university. He thinks the university should reflect on the way the course is offered for future semesters.

"I'm not going to agree with what we did, but at the same time the way they handled it wasn't entirely fair," he said, arguing the professors should have caught this earlier if it was such a widespread issue. "I think they should really question the professors because of the fact that so many people did this in such a large class. There's something questionable there."

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Related Topics

  • TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY
  • TEXAS TRIBUNE
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Is it cheating for students to use homework apps?

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By Amy Iverson

Apps now exist in our digital world that can take nearly any homework question or problem and solve it instantly, leaving parents and students with the decision whether or not to use these apps. Some call it cheating; others call it learning.

Parents, think back to when you were in high school doing homework. I recall having complicated calculus assignments that my mom wouldn’t even attempt and that stumped my father, who was an engineer. He would spend the evening reading through my book to remember how to do the equations and then try to teach me.

Even now with my teenagers, I have to study before I can help them with their math homework. And I’ll admit that most often, I send them to my husband who has a better mind for such things. I can help them with any literature, English, or language, but math was never my forte. So, I started getting help for teaching my kids from an app I featured on my radio show years ago.

The photomath app is a simple and genius concept. You point your phone’s camera at any math problem and the app gives you detailed instructions on how to solve it. And it’s free. So if students use this to do their homework, is that considered cheating?

It definitely could be. But it could also be a wonderful teaching tool, especially for students who are good independent learners. Apps like this could also be amazing for a student who doesn’t mesh well with a certain educator’s teaching style. Students can visualize how to solve the problems on their own timeline and terms.

Students have a teacher to answer questions while at school, but what are they supposed to do when they are at home? Sure, a parent may be able to help, but there's also the possibility that their parents never finished high school.

Recently, the app Socratic sat atop the list of the App Store’s Free Education apps. It works a lot like photomath, but for many different subjects. Again, you scan any question with your phone and the app gives you the answer.

The question may be from English class, “How is antithesis different from paradox?” Socratic will give you the perfect answer. That example may not be much different than just Googling the question. But the creators of this app took hundreds of thousands of student-submitted questions and had teachers break them down into core concepts.

After months of refining the algorithms, Socratic’s artificial intelligence can predict which ones a student needs to learn to solve the problem. The app’s website has this example of an organic chemistry question, “How is acetophenone phenylhydrazone catalyzed into 2-phenylindole?”

Now, if my child came to me with that homework question, I would likely fall on the floor laughing. But besides artificial intelligence, this app has carefully chosen real life Socratic Heroes like Ernest Z. to answer questions.

He’s a retired professor from Acadia University who taught organic chemistry for two decades. Ernest Z. has been with Socratic for three years and in this case gives a perfectly explained solution to that question with step-by-step instructions.

Cheating? I say learning. Professor Christopher Boyle, a psychologist and teacher based at Exeter University, agrees, saying this app could be an excellent tool .

The app’s co-founder, Shreyans Bhansali, believes kids are asking Google all their homework questions anyway . He says at least Socratic goes a step further by teaching students what they need to know to answer the questions.

A final example of homework helper apps is Brainly . This website and app uses crowdsourcing to answer homework questions. It’s like a gigantic worldwide study group. Brainly believes students are smarter together and uses the tagline, “No one knows everything, but everyone knows something.”

Students can post questions about assignments and a fellow student will answer within minutes. You can also search millions of previous questions and answers. Moderators make sure all the questions are school related and that answers aren’t copied from other websites.

Like most technology, parents will need to monitor their kids using these apps. Students could definitely just use them to copy down correct answers for their homework. But everyone would know the truth once test time rolled around. If students use these apps to learn concepts and problem-solving — ideally with help from parents — they could be a huge asset in a student’s path to a diploma.

Amy Iverson is a graduate of the University of Utah. She has worked as a broadcast journalist in Dallas, Seattle, Italy, and Salt Lake City. Amy, her husband, and three kids live in Summit County, Utah. Contact Amy on Facebook.com/theamyiverson

PrepScholar

Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 5 best homework help websites (free and paid).

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Other High School , General Education

body-homework-chalkboard

Listen: we know homework isn’t fun, but it is a good way to reinforce the ideas and concepts you’ve learned in class. But what if you’re really struggling with your homework assignments? 

If you’ve looked online for a little extra help with your take-home assignments, you’ve probably stumbled across websites claiming to provide the homework help and answers students need to succeed . But can homework help sites really make a difference? And if so, which are the best homework help websites you can use? 

Below, we answer these questions and more about homework help websites–free and paid. We’ll go over: 

  • The basics of homework help websites 
  • The cost of homework help websites 
  • The five best homework websites out there 
  • The pros and cons of using these websites for homework help 
  • The line between “learning” and “cheating” when using online homework help 
  • Tips for getting the most out of a homework help website

So let’s get started! 

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The Basics About Homework Help Websites–Free and Paid

Homework help websites are designed to help you complete your homework assignments, plain and simple. 

What Makes a Homework Help Site Worth Using

Most of the best sites allow users to ask questions and then provide an answer (or multiple possible answers) and explanation in seconds. In some instances, you can even send a photo of a particular assignment or problem instead of typing the whole thing out! 

Homework help sites also offer more than just help answering homework questions. Common services provided are Q&A with experts, educational videos, lectures, practice tests and quizzes, learning modules, math solving tools, and proofreading help. Homework help sites can also provide textbook solutions (i.e. answers to problems in tons of different textbooks your school might be using), one-on-one tutoring, and peer-to-peer platforms that allow you to discuss subjects you’re learning about with your fellow students. 

And best of all, nearly all of them offer their services 24/7, including tutoring! 

What You Should Should Look Out For

When it comes to homework help, there are lots–and we mean lots –of scam sites out there willing to prey on desperate students. Before you sign up for any service, make sure you read reviews to ensure you’re working with a legitimate company. 

A word to the wise: the more a company advertises help that veers into the territory of cheating, the more likely it is to be a scam. The best homework help websites are going to help you learn the concepts you’ll need to successfully complete your homework on your own. (We’ll go over the difference between “homework help” and “cheating” a little later!) 

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You don't need a golden piggy bank to use homework help websites. Some provide low or no cost help for students like you!

How Expensive Are the Best Homework Help Websites?

First of all, just because a homework help site costs money doesn’t mean it’s a good service. Likewise, just because a homework help website is free doesn’t mean the help isn’t high quality. To find the best websites, you have to take a close look at the quality and types of information they provide! 

When it comes to paid homework help services, the prices vary pretty widely depending on the amount of services you want to subscribe to. Subscriptions can cost anywhere from $2 to $150 dollars per month, with the most expensive services offering several hours of one-on-one tutoring with a subject expert per month.

The 5 Best Homework Help Websites 

So, what is the best homework help website you can use? The answer is that it depends on what you need help with. 

The best homework help websites are the ones that are reliable and help you learn the material. They don’t just provide answers to homework questions–they actually help you learn the material. 

That’s why we’ve broken down our favorite websites into categories based on who they’re best for . For instance, the best website for people struggling with math might not work for someone who needs a little extra help with science, and vice versa. 

Keep reading to find the best homework help website for you! 

Best Free Homework Help Site: Khan Academy

  • Price: Free!
  • Best for: Practicing tough material 

Not only is Khan Academy free, but it’s full of information and can be personalized to suit your needs. When you set up your account , you choose which courses you need to study, and Khan Academy sets up a personal dashboard of instructional videos, practice exercises, and quizzes –with both correct and incorrect answer explanations–so you can learn at your own pace. 

As an added bonus, it covers more course topics than many other homework help sites, including several AP classes.

Runner Up: Brainly.com offers a free service that allows you to type in questions and get answers and explanations from experts. The downside is that you’re limited to two answers per question and have to watch ads. 

Best Paid Homework Help Site: Chegg

  • Price: $14.95 to $19.95 per month
  • Best for: 24/7 homework assistance  

This service has three main parts . The first is Chegg Study, which includes textbook solutions, Q&A with subject experts, flashcards, video explanations, a math solver, and writing help. The resources are thorough, and reviewers state that Chegg answers homework questions quickly and accurately no matter when you submit them.  

Chegg also offers textbook rentals for students who need access to textbooks outside of their classroom. Finally, Chegg offers Internship and Career Advice for students who are preparing to graduate and may need a little extra help with the transition out of high school. 

Another great feature Chegg provides is a selection of free articles geared towards helping with general life skills, like coping with stress and saving money. Chegg’s learning modules are comprehensive, and they feature solutions to the problems in tons of different textbooks in a wide variety of subjects. 

Runner Up: Bartleby offers basically the same services as Chegg for $14.99 per month. The reason it didn’t rank as the best is based on customer reviews that say user questions aren’t answered quite as quickly on this site as on Chegg. Otherwise, this is also a solid choice!

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Best Site for Math Homework Help: Photomath

  • Price: Free (or $59.99 per year for premium services) 
  • Best for: Explaining solutions to math problems

This site allows you to t ake a picture of a math problem, and instantly pulls up a step-by-step solution, as well as a detailed explanation of the concept. Photomath also includes animated videos that break down mathematical concepts to help you better understand and remember them. 

The basic service is free, but for an additional fee you can get extra study tools and learn additional strategies for solving common math problems.

Runner Up: KhanAcademy offers in-depth tutorials that cover complex math topics for free, but you won’t get the same tailored help (and answers!) that Photomath offers. 

Best Site for English Homework Help: Princeton Review Academic Tutoring

  • Price: $40 to $153 per month, depending on how many hours of tutoring you want 
  • Best for: Comprehensive and personalized reading and writing help 

While sites like Grammarly and Sparknotes help you by either proofreading what you write via an algorithm or providing book summaries, Princeton Review’s tutors provide in-depth help with vocabulary, literature, essay writing and development, proofreading, and reading comprehension. And unlike other services, you’ll have the chance to work with a real person to get help. 

The best part is that you can get on-demand English (and ESL) tutoring from experts 24/7. That means you can get help whenever you need it, even if you’re pulling an all-nighter! 

This is by far the most expensive homework site on this list, so you’ll need to really think about what you need out of a homework help website before you commit. One added benefit is that the subscription covers over 80 other subjects, including AP classes, which can make it a good value if you need lots of help!  

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Best Site for STEM Homework Help: Studypool

  • Best for: Science homework help
  • Price: Varies; you’ll pay for each question you submit

When it comes to science homework help, there aren’t a ton of great resources out there. The best of the bunch is Studypool, and while it has great reviews, there are some downsides as well. 

Let’s start with the good stuff. Studypool offers an interesting twist on the homework help formula. After you create a free account, you can submit your homework help questions, and tutors will submit bids to answer your questions. You’ll be able to select the tutor–and price point–that works for you, then you’ll pay to have your homework question answered. You can also pay a small fee to access notes, lectures, and other documents that top tutors have uploaded. 

The downside to Studypool is that the pricing is not transparent . There’s no way to plan for how much your homework help will cost, especially if you have lots of questions! Additionally, it’s not clear how tutors are selected, so you’ll need to be cautious when you choose who you’d like to answer your homework questions.  

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Homework Help Sites?

Homework help websites can be a great resource if you’re struggling in a subject, or even if you just want to make sure that you’re really learning and understanding topics and ideas that you’re interested in. But, there are some possible drawbacks if you don’t use these sites responsibly. 

We’ll go over the good–and the not-so-good–aspects of getting online homework help below. 

3 Pros of Using Homework Help Websites 

First, let’s take a look at the benefits. 

#1: Better Grades Beyond Homework

This is a big one! Getting outside help with your studies can improve your understanding of concepts that you’re learning, which translates into better grades when you take tests or write essays. 

Remember: homework is designed to help reinforce the concepts you learned in class. If you just get easy answers without learning the material behind the problems, you may not have the tools you need to be successful on your class exams…or even standardized tests you’ll need to take for college. 

#2: Convenience

One of the main reasons that online homework help is appealing is because it’s flexible and convenient. You don’t have to go to a specific tutoring center while they’re open or stay after school to speak with your teacher. Instead, you can access helpful resources wherever you can access the internet, whenever you need them.

This is especially true if you tend to study at off hours because of your extracurriculars, work schedule, or family obligations. Sites that offer 24/7 tutoring can give you the extra help you need if you can’t access the free resources that are available at your school. 

#3: Variety

Not everyone learns the same way. Maybe you’re more of a visual learner, but your teacher mostly does lectures. Or maybe you learn best by listening and taking notes, but you’re expected to learn something just from reading the textbook . 

One of the best things about online homework help is that it comes in a variety of forms. The best homework help sites offer resources for all types of learners, including videos, practice activities, and even one-on-one discussions with real-life experts. 

This variety can also be a good thing if you just don’t really resonate with the way a concept is being explained (looking at you, math textbooks!).

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Not so fast. There are cons to homework help websites, too. Get to know them below!

3 Cons of Using Homework Help Websites 

Now, let’s take a look at the drawbacks of online homework help. 

#1: Unreliable Info

This can be a real problem. In addition to all the really good homework help sites, there are a whole lot of disreputable or unreliable sites out there. The fact of the matter is that some homework help sites don’t necessarily hire people who are experts in the subjects they’re talking about. In those cases, you may not be getting the accurate, up-to-date, and thorough information you need.

Additionally, even the great sites may not be able to answer all of your homework questions. This is especially true if the site uses an algorithm or chatbot to help students…or if you’re enrolled in an advanced or college-level course. In these cases, working with your teacher or school-provided tutors are probably your best option. 

#2: No Clarification

This depends on the service you use, of course. But the majority of them provide free or low-cost help through pre-recorded videos. Watching videos or reading info online can definitely help you with your homework… but you can’t ask questions or get immediate feedback if you need it .

#3: Potential For Scamming 

Like we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of homework help websites out there, and lots of them are scams. The review comments we read covered everything from outdated or wrong information, to misleading claims about the help provided, to not allowing people to cancel their service after signing up. 

No matter which site you choose to use, make sure you research and read reviews before you sign up–especially if it’s a paid service! 

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When Does “Help” Become “Cheating”?

Admittedly, whether using homework help websites constitutes cheating is a bit of a grey area. For instance, is it “help” when a friend reads your essay for history class and corrects your grammar, or is it “cheating”? The truth is, not everyone agrees on when “help” crosses the line into “cheating .” When in doubt, it can be a good idea to check with your teacher to see what they think about a particular type of help you want to get. 

That said, a general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to make sure that the assignment you turn in for credit is authentically yours . It needs to demonstrate your own thoughts and your own current abilities. Remember: the point of every homework assignment is to 1) help you learn something, and 2) show what you’ve learned. 

So if a service answers questions or writes essays for you, there’s a good chance using it constitutes cheating. 

Here’s an example that might help clarify the difference for you. Brainstorming essay ideas with others or looking online for inspiration is “help” as long as you write the essay yourself. Having someone read it and give you feedback about what you need to change is also help, provided you’re the one that makes the changes later. 

But copying all or part of an essay you find online or having someone write (or rewrite) the whole thing for you would be “cheating.” The same is true for other subjects. Ultimately, if you’re not generating your own work or your own answers, it’s probably cheating.

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5 Tips for Finding the Best Homework Help Websites for You

Now that you know some of our favorite homework help websites, free and paid, you can start doing some additional research on your own to decide which services might work best for you! Here are some top tips for choosing a homework help website. 

Tip 1: Decide How You Learn Best 

Before you decide which site or sites you’re going to use for homework help, y ou should figure out what kind of learning style works for you the most. Are you a visual learner? Then choose a site that uses lots of videos to help explain concepts. If you know you learn best by actually doing tasks, choose a site that provides lots of practice exercises.

Tip 2: Determine Which Subjects You Need Help With

Just because a homework help site is good overall doesn’t mean that it’s equally good for every subject. If you only need help in math, choose a site that specializes in that area. But if history is where you’re struggling, a site that specializes in math won’t be much help. So make sure to choose a site that you know provides high-quality help in the areas you need it most. 

Tip 3: Decide How Much One-On-One Help You Need 

This is really about cost-effectiveness. If you learn well on your own by reading and watching videos, a free site like Khan Academy is a good choice. But if you need actual tutoring, or to be able to ask questions and get personalized answers from experts, a paid site that provides that kind of service may be a better option.

Tip 4: Set a Budget 

If you decide you want to go with a paid homework help website, set a budget first . The prices for sites vary wildly, and the cost to use them can add up quick. 

Tip 5: Read the Reviews

Finally, it’s always a good idea to read actual reviews written by the people using these homework sites. You’ll learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of what the users’ experiences have been. This is especially true if you intend to subscribe to a paid service. You’ll want to make sure that users think it’s worth the price overall!

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What’s Next?

If you want to get good grades on your homework, it’s a good idea to learn how to tackle it strategically. Our expert tips will help you get the most out of each assignment…and boost your grades in the process. 

Doing well on homework assignments is just one part of getting good grades. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about getting great grades in high school in this article. 

Of course, test grades can make or break your GPA, too. Here are 17 expert tips that’ll help you get the most out of your study prep before you take an exam. 

Need more help? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

Connect With a Tutor Now

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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Do Professors Know if You Use Chegg?

Do professors know if you use Chegg? Two students looking at computers

Do professors know if you use Chegg? In many cases, yes, professors do know when students use Chegg to complete homework.

As you might guess, Chegg doesn’t go around sending emails to every prof whose students are using Chegg Study. However, there are some pretty clear giveaways when students are using Chegg to complete their homework, and some professors have sharp eyes when it comes to catching Chegg users.

Before we go further, you’re welcome to check out our comprehensive review of Chegg and its services , which answers many other frequently asked questions about Chegg.

Our article reviewing 5 ways students use Chegg Study to cheat in college is another useful read, as the cheating severity level has a dramatic effect on whether professors know if you use Chegg or not.

“I had a question in Chegg with incorrect answers (not my doing). Specifically, it had a lot of superfluous information for a relatively straightforward question… [this] made it real easy to find a group of students who used it.”

4 Ways Professors Know if You Use Chegg

We scoured the internet to get some real-life stories of professors finding out which students were using Chegg. It turns out the profs have quite a few tools up their sleeve once they actually suspect a student of cheating.

1. Submitting Strange Answers or Steps to Solve a Problem

Here are some of the ways that professors find out who has been using Chegg to complete homework assignments.

On the r/Professors subreddit (a forum for college professors, for those unfamiliar with Reddit), multiple profs shared their experiences finding Chegg cheaters.

Economics professor u/urnbabyurn shared a story of how Chegg’s steps and answers can sometimes be a clear giveaway:

“I had a question in Chegg with incorrect answers (not my doing). Specifically, it had a lot of superfluous information for a relatively straightforward question. E.g. “Define X” and the answer has a definition of some of X and Y.

“Made it real easy to find a group of students who used it. I went through the formal academic dishonesty process.”

As you can see, even if Chegg Study gives you a correct answer, it may have unusual steps that lead the professor to investigate. From there, a simple Google search can bring up Chegg’s name.

Even without a Google search, if multiple students submit a problem with the exact same (unusual) method, the professor will know that something fishy is going on.

2. Using Complex Methods to Solve a Simple Problem

In addition to unusual methods, complex methods are another sure giveaway. If you’re a freshman and you use a complex method you haven’t been taught in class to complete a project, the professor may ask you about it.

On the one hand, this is totally fine if you can explain how you learned about this method on your own and then implemented it on the homework.

On the other hand, if you just copied an answer from Chegg and can’t explain it at all, it will be clear that you cheated and simply copied an answer from some source.

This scenario can happen very easily with Chegg, because they have some very smart employees providing answers for students. For example, Forbes reported that Chegg employs over 70,000 experts in India (some with doctoral degrees) to answer students’ questions.

3. Doing Great on Homework and Failing Exams

If a student is getting straight As on their homework but failing exams, professors can catch on pretty quickly.

In general, any student who understands the material well enough to ace the homework will also have at least average exam results.

Some variance is to be expected, but if students continually get As on homework and Ds on exams, professors will know that something is going on.

4. Submitting Exact Answers from Chegg

Universities use advanced software to detect plagiarism, with Turnitin being the best-known software in this space.

If a professor puts your answer into Turnitin and you’ve copied Chegg’s answer closely, then Turnitin it likely to flag your answer for review.

As you can see, there are quite a few ways that cheating with Chegg can arouse a professor’s suspicion. Once a professor decides to investigate a student, there are more resources they can use to convict a student of cheating with Chegg.

What Information Will Chegg Give to Professors?

cheating on homework reddit

Once a professor suspects a student of using Chegg, they can contact Chegg to ask for information.

We aren’t certain of Chegg’s exact policy here, but there are anecdotal reports of Chegg handing over certain account information when universities request it.

Let’s head back to r/Professors for some another firsthand account of a professor investigating students on Chegg.

According to user caffeinated_tea, a chemistry prof, Chegg did provide a fair amount of information, and enough to open successful academic integrity complaints against at least two students.

This professor claimed that Chegg did not give IP addresses, and did not give information on students who viewed the answer to a particular problem.

For the submitting student, however, Chegg purportedly gave an impressive amount of information:

  • The date and time the question was uploaded
  • The date and time a Chegg expert answered the question
  • The username of the student who uploaded the problem
  • The email address of the student who uploaded the problem
  • The name of the student who uploaded the problem
  • The institution that the student’s account said they attended
  • The expert solution to the problem

Another professor in the discussion thread claimed that Chegg also provided them with IP addresses. Others in the thread went so far as to claim that Chegg provided payment info such as the name on the credit card, but this was not proven.

With this information, many professors would be able to track down the specific student who asked a problem on Chegg Study.

This would not be true in all cases, as a student might use a non-identifying email address, lie about their name and school, and use a VPN to disguise their email address.

Even in that case, if Chegg did give a university the name on the credit card, a student could still be outed.

In another thread from 2021, a student claimed that Chegg provides all the profile information of not only the question-asker, but also all students who view a particular answer.

In short, cheating with Chegg is very dangerous business, and students are definitely not safe when professors or universities decide to crack down on Chegg usage.

What Happens if a Professor Catches You Using Chegg?

What happens if you get caught using Chegg? Fish in hand picture

So what happens in the case that a professor suspects a student and then gathers confirming evidence from Chegg?

In short, it depends on whether the student’s actions broke the university’s academic integrity policy or student conduct code. If so, the university may take extreme measures against students, including expulsion.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons not to cheat in college with Chegg, and a lot of questions around the topic. We’ve answered more common questions in our 5,000-word tome of a Chegg review , so check it out if you’re still curious.

We’ve also got plenty of other college resources to help you in your educational journey. For example, you can check out our rankings of the best accredited online colleges in America , or maybe you’re more interested in learning how to write outstanding scholarship essays .

Thanks for visiting College Guidepost, and we wish you the best in your college and educational journey!

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COMMENTS

  1. I graduated from college and cheated in (almost) everything

    Get the Reddit app Scan this QR code to download the app now. Or check it out in the app stores   ... so.. couldnt make it in time and the fourth time i pass cheating because i was angry about the other 3 times. Oh, and the only way to pass the class was only doing exams. 3 exams, everyone with value of 33.33% percent on final grade ...

  2. It's fine to cheat on homework and tests if it won't help you ...

    Tbh with online school for the past year there has been a rise on cheating on homework and tests. I think it's fine to cheat in school because most of the stuff you learn in school won't really help you in the future. Like unless if it's actually gonna help you in life I feel like cheating on school work is fine because at the end of the day it ...

  3. Student cheating with homework

    See why the student cheated, maybe let them know that no one did great on it and not doing well on an assignment is better than a disciplinary board. It's always better to keep it in house. For you and the students. Be firm and be honest. Don't try to scare them, the consequences should be scary enough.

  4. I cheated on an assignment. I am caught red handed. What will ...

    I am more or less caught red handed and have been called into a hearing where I have no way to explain myself other than to admit my dishonesty. In context, the assignment was worth one module out of roughly 40 in the overall degree, so I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it's a tiny, tiny portion, but having said that, it was outright ...

  5. Cheating on homework, first offense. : r/aggies

    The first situation is cheating, own up and tell the TA you messed up and take the zero. If you don't own up, we are required to escalate it to the professor and eventually the honor council. That will impact your graduation even if it's an elective course. They can withhold your diploma till the case is solved.

  6. Is it common for students in America to copy somebody's ...

    In college, there are still some opportunities for cheating on homework, but it's not really worthwhile. A lot of homework isn't even necessarily graded. Or if it is, the points are so miniscule, since the exams/papers are the vast majority of the points for the term, that cheating on homework is just harming yourself.

  7. Cheating on assignments is becoming too normalized. : r ...

    Cheating on assignments is becoming too normalized. Unpopular in General. At my high school everyone got the answers to all their assignments off the Internet. It's the same in college. Even the more well-behaved students copy their assignments. It's ingrained in our culture now, and it's raising a generation of students who will be unprepared ...

  8. Is using Chegg cheating? Professors say students risk grades

    The latter forum bears a simple description: "Pay reddit to do your homework for you." Karan said he was trying to reach people who might need a tutor, not trying to complete their coursework for ...

  9. Contract Cheating Websites: EdTech Gets an Insider's View

    The shadow industry of contract cheating falls into a legal gray area. When students and tutors make an account on a homework help site, they must sign a terms-of-service agreement and honor code that forbids academic cheating. But an undercover EdTech investigation found this agreement appears to be rarely enforced.

  10. When does getting help on an assignment turn into cheating?

    If you use a spy camera or smartwatch in an exam, you're clearly cheating. And you're cheating if you get a friend to sit an exam for you or write your assignment. At other times the line is ...

  11. More Students Are Using Chegg to Cheat. Is the Company Doing ...

    The biggest facilitator appears to be Chegg, which has become synonymous with cheating. Many students use the term "Chegging" when they describe turning to homework-help sites to copy down answers instead of doing work themselves. A recent investigation by Forbes magazine called Chegg a "superspreader" of cheating; a majority of the 52 ...

  12. Why Students Cheat on Homework and How to Prevent It

    If you find students cheat on homework, they probably lack the vision for how the work is beneficial. It's important to consider the meaningfulness and valuable of the assignment from students' perspectives. They need to see how it is relevant to them. In my class, I've learned to assign work that cannot be copied.

  13. AI Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat

    Alan Joyce, the director of content development for Wolfram Alpha, says that cheating is "absolutely the wrong way to look at what we do.". But the staff understands what might make teachers ...

  14. The AI Cheating Crisis: Education Needs Its Anti-Doping Movement

    The rise of "AI doping" is strikingly similar. In a Study.com survey of 1,000 college-age students, 89 percent of respondents admitted to using ChatGPT to complete a homework assignment ...

  15. Contract Cheating and Unauthorised Homework Assistance through Reddit

    One of my Imperial College London undergraduate students, Rahul Gupta, asked if he could work with me on a study about contract cheating using Reddit. We were able to get internal funding, collected data and Rahul joined me to present the results at the European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism 2021.

  16. Achieve Homework Anti-Cheating Tips

    Kiandra Johnson, a mathematics professor at Spelman College, suggested two simple, easy, and effective ideas. Use clicker questions during the lecture as many of the clicker questions are concept-based and cannot be entered into a mathematical database. This is a way to check individual student understanding outside of the homework.

  17. How Cheating in College Hurts Students

    Academic integrity is important, experts say, as plagiarism and other cheating may have severe consequences. Experts say the number of students engaging in academic dishonesty during the ...

  18. Texas A&M investigating 'large scale' cheating case as universities see

    Later, faculty discovered entire exams posted on a "homework help" website that has become synonymous with cheating. University officials told guilty students to self-report by 5 p.m. on Dec. 8.

  19. Is it cheating for students to use homework apps?

    2 of 2. Apps now exist in our digital world that can take nearly any homework question or problem and solve it instantly, leaving parents and students with the decision whether or not to use these apps. Some call it cheating; others call it learning. Parents, think back to when you were in high school doing homework.

  20. cheating

    When I started teaching in 1996, problems with students cheating on homework were minor and intermittent. It was easy to nip it in the bud if you cared enough to read any student work. ... Googling finds multiple Reddit threads aimed at how to cheat a timed, proctored online exam.] $\endgroup$ - Nick C. Jun 19, 2020 at 17:23. 8 $\begingroup ...

  21. The 5 Best Homework Help Websites (Free and Paid!)

    Best Paid Homework Help Site: Chegg. Price: $14.95 to $19.95 per month. Best for: 24/7 homework assistance. This service has three main parts. The first is Chegg Study, which includes textbook solutions, Q&A with subject experts, flashcards, video explanations, a math solver, and writing help.

  22. Combatting Cheating

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  24. Do Professors Know if You Use Chegg? • College Guidepost

    3. Doing Great on Homework and Failing Exams. If a student is getting straight As on their homework but failing exams, professors can catch on pretty quickly. In general, any student who understands the material well enough to ace the homework will also have at least average exam results.

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