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ProctorU has proctored nearly 3 million exams.

ProctorU has proctored nearly 3 million exams to help prevent academic dishonesty.

In recent years, incidents of academic dishonesty among college students have  been steadily climbing. For example, according to a recent news story, “The University of Iowa suspects that about 30 Chinese students paid Chinese companies to take their online examinations.” The Ad Council Campaign to Discourage Academic Cheating reported that “[w]hile about 20 [percent] of college students admitted to cheating in high school during the 1940’s, today between 75 and 98 percent of college students surveyed each year report having cheated in high school.”

Academic dishonesty has always existed, whether it has been stealing another student’s paper and changing the name, a student writing answers on his or her hand, or leaving notes visible in an open backpack. However, professors seem to be uncertain about what is really happening. Northwestern University Weinberg Assistant Dean Mark Sheldon pointed out in The Daily Northwestern that he and other faculty are “unsure if more students are actually cheating or if detection methods have simply improved.”

Today, students taking  unproctored online exams  have endless possibilities and resources thanks to technology. Sophisticated ways to cheat include graphing calculators which can store a plethora of information and the tiny computer most students have at their fingertips in the form of a cell phone.

Are students cheating more these days simply because they have more enhanced tools allowing them to do so? Reasons the Ad Council listed for college students cheating include: lack of an honor code; students who see other students cheating and feel they cannot be competitive unless they do, too; and limited risk of being caught.

Higher pressure than ever before paired with the apparent ease that technology affords are some reasons academic dishonesty has increased. Students are now cheating, “not just to survive, but to thrive,” according to a New York Times article about student opinions on cheating in school. Excuses given by students interviewed include: school has gotten more difficult, it’s easier to cheat with the available technology, less discipline from parents, having a good story to tell peers if they cheat, “it’s the norm,” and pressure on high school students to get into a good college and on college students to keep academic or athletic scholarships.

As students have caught onto current technological advances, so has ProctorU. While preventing all cheating may not be possible, the very technology that permits cheating can also be used to mitigate that behavior. ProctorU takes advantage of screen-sharing technology to monitor student screens while testing, webcams in order to check materials and the rooms in which students test, and a multi-layered authentication process in order to verify test-taker identities that goes beyond simply checking an ID. For more information, please visit www.proctoru.com.

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