Due to the new online class format, some Cal Poly professors suspect an increase in cheating among students in classes.

Some professors have opted for preventative browsers, such as the Respondus Lockdown Browser, which prohibits students from accessing other applications during an exam.

“My main motivation to use [Respondus Lockdown Browser] was basically to just level the playing field for all the students taking exams,” English professor Alison Preston said. “My motivation was not so much to prevent cheating, because my feeling is that most students are honest.” 

Video by Lauren Brown

Professors have been led through various training workshops in the last few months to help them adjust to virtual teaching and respond to online cheating. Instructional Design and Online Teaching Specialist Catherine Hillman has been working with teachers to make the transition to the online classroom easier.

“When people say it’s easier to cheat in the online environment, sometimes it’s actually easier to get caught. But again, our response to that should be not ‘how are we going to make it harder to cheat,’ but ‘can I change this assignment so that students want to do this authentically,’” Hillman said. 

According to Hillman, cheating online is similar to cheating in the physical classroom, but is sometimes easier for teachers to spot. Additionally, she said that teachers can control cheating by using project-based assessments that better reflect a students knowledge on the subject. 

“Some of the transitions we would make is instead of a quick and dirty multiple choice test, that might feel a little juvenile and frustrating for students, and maybe turn it into a project where students really feel proud of what they do,” Hillman said. 

In an email to students and faculty, President Armstrong announced that there is a possibility for Cal Poly to hold virtual classes in the fall. Preston said that there are a few adjustments she wants to make for her virtual classes in the fall. 

Cal Poly has a zero-tolerance policy on cheating. 

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