Phone-y Grades: Do professors have cheaters’ number?

Just like music and cable TV, cheating has gone digital. Advances in technology have caused many students to replace old-fashioned cheat sheets with a smaller, savvier piece of equipment: their cell phones. The increasing sophistication

Just like music and cable TV, cheating has gone digital.

Advances in technology have caused many students to replace old-fashioned cheat sheets with a smaller, savvier piece of equipment: their cell phones.

The increasing sophistication of cell phones allows a student to store vast amounts of information all in the palm of the hand, making it even easier to cheat during exams and even harder for professors
to catch them in the process.

Through the use of e-mail, text messages and photography, students are storing important data on their cell phones, all of which can be accessed with the push of a button during an exam.

Because cell phones are as commonplace
in the classroom as pens and pencils, it is hard for anyone to recognize the threat they may pose.

“If you look around, everyone has a cell phone. They’re so common that you don’t think twice when you see one in the classroom,” said senior chemistry major Wayne Raneiro.

“I know lots of people who store formulas in their phones for tests.”

Students also use text messaging functions to communicate with fellow classmates during exams, according to a business student who wished to remain anonymous.
The student also commented on the use of camera phones during exams. The advanced picture capabilities found on new cell phones allow students to store photographs of entire textbook pages on their phones.

During an exam they simply retrieve the picture and use the zoom function in order to access the information they need.

Microsoft also released new software,
Windows Mobile 5.0, enabling students to access even greater levels of information. The program allows consumers with “smartphones” to make use of various programs including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

“Cell phones are like mini laptops these days; there are so many different ways to store information, it’s unbelievable,”
said geology lecture professor Rick Valentino.

Although some students utilize cell phones as cheating devices, there have been no direct cases of academic dishonesty
involving cell phones here, according
to the Associate Dean of Students Kathryn D’Angelo.

“A lot of cases we get with academic dishonesty are students plagiarizing, because that’s the easiest thing to catch,” D’Angelo said.

According to D’Angelo, professors are not required to send all cases of academic
dishonesty to the University Disciplinary
Committee. If a professor suspects a student of cheating, they can decide to fail the student for the exam or the entire course without judicial review, but students have a right to appeal the decision.

Temple faculty seems to have a ubiquitous
policy concerning cell phones – they don’t want to see or hear them. Disrupting students and teachers alike, cell phones are seen as a nuisance in the classroom.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t have a cell phone go off in my lecture,” Valentino said. “To be honest, I hate it. But there’s nothing you can really do about it.”

The Fox School of Business recently adopted
a “no cell phone” policy in classrooms in order to address the rising concerns regarding cell phones, according to the assistant dean for undergraduate programs, Debbie Campbell.

“In the past we found students text messaging multiple choice answers back and forth and communicating with students in the hallways,” Campbell said.

According to the new policy, students must keep cell phones out of sight when they enter the classroom. They must also go to a designated “cell phone area” if they wish to receive or make calls.

While many students regard their cell phone as an absolute necessity, most students
can respect their professors’ concerns.

“There’s no need to have a cell phone on your desk while you’re taking an exam,” said junior BTMM major Sean Maxwell. “Just keep it on vibrate and put in your pocket.”

Students like Maxwell also feel that it’s the professor’s responsibility to control academic dishonesty.

“Some teachers are naive to the technology
students are bringing into their classes,” Maxwell said. “It’s important for teachers to keep up-to-date with those sorts of things.”

One solution to cheating, according to BTMM professor Barry Vacker, is creating a positive classroom environment for students.

“If you build a good rapport with your class, the student’s desire to cheat goes way down,” Vacker said.

Despite the advantage technology gives to classroom cheaters, some students stand by the “cheaters never win” ideology.

In the eyes of sophomore education major Katie Hollenbach, success is measured by the effort put forth, not necessarily the grades given.

“I study really hard to get the grades I get,” Hollenbach said.

“I’d like to think that the people who work hard end up being more successful in the long run.”

Rachel Madel can be reached at


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