UVU Professor finds ways to identify contract cheaters

(Valerie Cheatham) Students are finding new ways to cheat on their schoolwork.

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Dr. Pauli Alin had suspicions that UVU students were somehow cheating in his class. 

The current UVU assistant professor in the technology management program later figured out it was a form of cheating called contract cheating.  Contract cheating occurs when students buy written assignments online. Students sometimes also pay family members or friends to write for them. By cheating this way students are able to get past plagiarism tests. 

He first raised his eyebrows when the quality of students’ work improved significantly when submitted online compared to their in-person classwork.  The professor, though not sure how to identify the students cheating, tried using doping tests in professional sports as motivation. 

 He decided to have the students who were doing well with online essays try to replicate their work in ten minutes. Alin figured that if the student did cheat, they wouldn’t be able to replicate the work. If they were unable to do as he asked, he would send them to the University’s Academic Dishonesty Office.

“The students who cheated almost always confessed on the spot.”  Alin said.


Alin published an article to help teachers understand this form of cheating better and how to spot it.

 “The success of his method could be applied to a number of courses and would give faculty more ground to combat cheating in classes” Alin said.

With many classes meeting online, student and teacher needs can be difficult for everyone. However, teachers being able to identify this form of cheating and create learning relationships and environments to potentially decrease its use could help university’s faculty, staff and students win in the fight for honesty.  

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