U of Ill. considers changes in code on cheating

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois is considering the first big revision in years to the student code that covers cheating. It comes in response to the growing number of ways students can share notes or even tests.

The potential changes in the code's academic integrity section follow one of the biggest college cheating scandals in years, an investigation that last summer found more than 100 students cheated on take-home tests. But the changes also come at a time when students in general have increasingly more ways to cheat or cut corners and, particularly for students accustomed to success, pressure to do so.

"The temptations are great at the University of Illinois," Brian Farber, an associate dean of students and director of the university's Office for Student Conflict Resolution, told The News-Gazette in Champaign (http://bit.ly/UTT2bo ). "They want to continue to succeed. They know it's important to their future to continue to be successful and that can lead them to take a shortcut when they shouldn't."

The university says cheating and plagiarism are up in recent years. In the academic year that ended in June, 325 violations of the school's academic integrity code were reported. That's down from 465 in 2011 but far more than the 100 that were reported in 2006.

Technology, experts say, has made it easier to cheat through online test sharing and other means.

"The number of ways to cheat have grown," said Chuck Tucker, an associate dean in the College of Engineering.

Most students who cheat get failing grades. The proposed changes in the code would widen the range of possible punishments to include academic integrity workshops for offenders as well as requiring them to retake exams.

The revisions also would help spell out more clearly what is and isn't considered cheating in circumstances, for instance, where group work is required on an assignment, administrators said.

"We encourage students regularly to study in groups," he said. It's acceptable to discuss homework, but students must do their own work, he said.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise is expected to consider the potential changes in the spring.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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