Inability for Students to Cheat with Hybrid Learning

Kiran Matthews

With C.H.S announcing a hybrid learning plan to return after spring break, many students were all but elated at the possibility of returning to their beloved halls and gaining the chance to get back into the daily school routine which was missed by many. Many students believe that returning to in-person classes will help them get back on track this year and actually take in information presented to them, which numerous found difficult through a virtual setting. While many students are going back with a positive mindset, the excitement came with a wave of concern and panic over the fact that cheating will no longer be possible  at the click of a button. 

Zoom has coincidentally produced the perfect learning environment to enable online cheating: with teachers making most tests and quizzes due during asynchronous times and all assignments going unproctored, the aspect of cheating has become unspokenly increased among virtual students. “I don’t want to sound like a horrible student, and I honestly never had directly cheated in in-school atmospheres. If I’m being completely honest that changed this year, because a lot of information seems to rub off before tests, due to virtual school making things difficult to stick in my brain. Soaking in information doesn’t seem to work the same as it used to for me,” explained an anonymous 10th grade student. “I’ve found myself looking up quick answers on my phone, or scanning a math problem through Mathway. Not that I think I couldn’t figure out the answer by myself, but with stress building up, I don’t have extreme amounts of time to study material anymore,” she went on to add. School in the screened atmosphere has opened up the perfect unsupervised situation, and as weeks went by, quickly glancing at Quizlet cheat sheets and written notes became almost an instinct for many. 

“Okay, okay, I know this sounds dumb, and yes, I have wanted to get back to in-person school forever, but I’m genuinely worried that my grades will drop. Whether or not my teachers are aware of it, I’ve kinda cheated my way through the year” said an anonymous 11th-grade student when questioned on their concerns moving forward with the year. “Not that I necessarily meant to, but it’s just gotten too easy, and I feel like I started relying on it in a way”. The unspoken common problem among countless students right now lies on the basis that while many of them never planned to cheat to a degree, they have now become in a way reliant on its nonchalanceness this year. 

Regarding actual cheating practices, the mass majority of students do not fall to the extent of largely plagiarizing classmates’ essays or pulling up Quizlet answers for every test question. Still, the superficial act of looking up a formula equation mid-test or glancing over at a note sheet for aid when answering quiz questions has become a little too easy to override the respect of “student integrity.”

While cheating has always made its way into classrooms, C.H.S. teachers had an increased advantage in catching cheating students when they had the ability to glance at their physical faces, instead of brief glimpses of foreheads over a screen. With the ability to watch students’ eyes during testing situations or make sure no additional material was laid out on desks during designated assignments, cheating was exceedingly hard to quickly create a significant effect on student grades. With almost all virtual assignments being asynchronous, teachers lost the overall control of watching their students’ every move. “I would say our teachers and also us administrators are all aware and not ignorant to the fact that it opens the door for more cheating because there’s not teacher scrutiny or adult supervision all of the time” said Assistant Principal Nicole Armstrong in a recent online interview.  “However, we as admin are hopeful that students still abide by the C.H.S. honor code”she adds. She also dove into the idea that while administrators are aware that cheating may have been made more accessible, they also rely on hopes for student integrity and that whether or not students are being watched, they still follow basic honor protocols. 

While our students do not refuse to abide by the honor codes they virtually signed, C.H.S integrity has, in a way, flown out the window. The aspect of cheating is vital to bring up with regards to genuine concerns from students when deciding whether or not to return to school. Many believe their grades will fall or that they’ll be put in stressful situations where the comfort of a quick cheating glance is no longer available to them. 

Returning to school will bring Charlottesville students back to the reality of assessment integrity, and the protocols around cheating in the student handbook will remain unchanged. Students who have in fact cheated in large or minor ways throughout the past year will be forced to readjust to the actuality of studying material until it sticks, and that looking up answers or glancing at notes will no longer be usual in classroom routines.