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Students Use Technology to Their Advantage While Testing

Modern technology that is commonly used in this generation has opened new ways for students to cheat more conveniently than every before. Even though students in the past could write down information and keep it in their pockets, there is only so much information a piece of paper can hold. Between the Internet, laptop requirements, and the handy relationships that students share with their smartphones, information has become dangerously available for students attending the University of Tampa.

The most common way students have cheated during exams is pre-storing information in their cellphones. An anonymous fulltime student at UT admitted to using his smartphone during some of his exams, stating “when I get stressed I use my phone to put answers in, just incase I need help during the test.” He uses the “notes” section of the iPhone to store the chapters’ information. Even though he does not use this cheating method often, he has done this in more than one class at the University without attracting any negative attention from his professors. Since smartphones were unavailable a few years ago, most professors are unaware of the impact they have recently had in the cheating world.

Google and other popular websites have greatly affected the use of cheating at the school, also relating to the forbidden act of plagiarism. Dr. Harris, the Director of Educational Technology at the University of Tampa commented on the matter, stating “Instead of having to go to the library and actually pull books or articles from the stacks, students can now find these same resources online without ever having to leave their homes.” The Internet has created a danger-zone for students who are determined to use other works as their own.

Cheating scandals have also made their way to the Office of Student Disability Services at UT. This is located at The Academic Center of Excellence, where students with learning disabilities are able to receive proper accommodations while completing their exams. While cell phones are not allowed in the exam room, computers are provided on every desk in the room for essay questions, which students have taken to their unethical advantage. Since many tests have to be preformed through the Internet, the center is unable to shut it down. Dr. Del Valle, the Associate Director at the Academic Center of Excellence catches on average two to three students cheating each semester. She commented that the cheating ranges from unauthorized Internet use to students cheating “the old fashioned way,” by sneaking notecards into their pockets since students do not have access to their phones during the testing period.

Since technical devices have become so commonly used, students are forgetting what uses of them are wrong and right. Cheating can be as simple as texting a friend about a pop quiz, or emailing homework answers to fellow classmates. The communication of technology alone has created a new cheating environment that many are unaware of.

Dr. Del Valle also teaches a gateways class here at UT and was shocked by some of her students’ responses to an academic integrity survey given to them. “I think the problem with the academic integrity policy is that a lot of students don’t understand what academic integrity is,” said Del Valle.

However, while many students are using technology as cheating devices, that technology has backfired upon them. Dr. Harris said, “Be forewarned however, that technology also provides professors with tools such as Turnitin and simple Internet searches that helps uncover plagiarism faster than ever.” She conducts technology research at UT and constantly teaches professors of the information found. The punishments for plagiarism, fabrication and other forms of cheating can evidently get students expelled from the University.

Many professors at UT are strong believers in academic integrity, and believe their students should be trustworthy. Dr. Harris said, “I believe that greatness does not come from attaining degrees or amassing wealth, it comes from living a life of integrity, something towards which I hope all our students strive.” Many students have taken advantage of the technology this generation has given them, which the University of Tampa hopes to change in the near future.
Kirby Jay can be reached at kirby.jay@spartans.ut.edu

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