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Virtual learning leading students to cheat more often

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After nearly a year of virtual learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, students have taken advantage of new ways to cheat on digital exams and essays.

There are a variety of “homework help” websites that facilitate this behavior, including Chegg, Slader and Course Hero, as well as “essay mill” sites like Grademiners and 99Papers.

Cheating requests for “exam-style questions” posted on Chegg related to computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics and chemistry surged nearly 200% between spring/summer of 2019 and the same period in 2020, Imperial College London researchers Thomas Lancaster and Codrin Cotarlan found in their study published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity.

“…Students post a question and wait for the responses. A lot of the posts are pictures. They can be photos of written documents or screenshots,” Lancaster told Fox News. “The fact they’re pictures rather than text makes these difficult to search. There’s no certainty that all questions will be answered, but most are. The simpler maths and science-type questions often get answers in just a few minutes.

People remove belongings on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Jeffery Bettag, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, told Fox News that Chegg and similar websites are frequented by students in beginner or intermediate classes because the exams they are taking may include questions that are more generic than those on exams for higher-level classes.

Lancaster and Cotarlan found that cheating requests are surging despite an honor code on Chegg’s website asking students not to breach academic integrity, as well as other school-specific honor codes.

“The growth of the site is unprecedented,” Lancaster said. “From an educational technology site perspective, it is a huge success story. But from an academic integrity perspective, this is frightening. What we have to ask ourselves is why this growth has happened.”

Bettag doesn’t think the honor codes do much to help.

“Do I think that really changes anything? No, I don’t,” he said, adding that almost all professors include some kind of honor-code reminder on virtual exams, but he wouldn’t be surprised if students ignore it. Notre Dame went virtual in March, but the majority of classes have switched back to in-person for spring.

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Bettag is only taking one virtual class this spring.

After a year of the pandemic, online learning has become “a joke” for many students who are no longer interested in classes that they might have paid more attention to had they attended in person, he said.

“Obviously, people have different learning tendencies,” Bettag said. “A lot of students tend to be lazy if they want to be. They’re always looking for the easiest way out.”

Camilla J. Roberts, president of the International Center for Academic Integrity, told Fox News that the added stress of the pandemic such as job losses, moving, online classes and technical difficulties associated with working and studying from home has “pushed some students to make choices in regards to their academics that they may not have normally made.”

“This stress in conjunction with the perceived ease of getting information from online sources or classmates remotely did lead to academic integrity violations occurring,” she said.

Students return to Notre Dame’s campus on Aug. 7, 2020. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

In an ideal situation, students want to be “intrinsically motivated” in their studies because it’s what they want to do in their future careers, Bettag said, but because grading is the only thing keeping many students motivated right now, motivation has become more “extrinsic.”

There have been numerous school-specific reports about students taking advantage of homework help services in combination with online learning to cheat on exams administered online.

U.S. colleges and universities including Boston University, Princeton University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Minnesota, Texas A&M, Penn State, Georgia Tech and others have grappled with students using Chegg and similar websites to cheat as they take part in virtual classes.

Military academies including the U.S. Air Force Academy and West Point have also addressed cheating scandals amid virtual learning.

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Boston University last April began investigating instances of students cheating using sources like Chegg, as The Boston Globe first reported.

Rachel Lapal Cavallario, assistant vice president of public relations at the university, told Fox News that it investigated academic misconduct and found that “students use a variety of educational resources, many accessible with just a few keystrokes on a laptop.”

“Nonetheless, we expect students to abide by Boston University’s Academic Conduct Code, and faculty reinforce it at the beginning of each semester in discussing course requirements and their grading and evaluation policies with students,” Cavallario said. “The Academic Conduct Code clearly states its purpose and the expectations for students, and also lists examples of violations for which students are held accountable.”

Vladimir Pyltsov, center, is picked up by his mom Dina Pyltsova at the Warren Towers dorm at Boston University in Boston on March 22, 2020. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A mathematics teacher’s assistant (TA) at Princeton posted a false answer to Slader last spring in an effort to catch students attempting to cheat, according to The Daily Princetonian, the school’s newspaper.

Internal documents obtained by the newspaper discussed a “very sad list” of at least 21 students suspected of violating academic integrity policies related to a specific set of math questions due in April of 2020 after COVID-19 forced a shift to remote learning.

Bettag said that when it comes to asking why students cheat, it’s because “at the end of the day,” they want to do as best as they can, and some feel that not using resources at hand —  whether it be Chegg, Google or an open textbook — may put them at a disadvantage compared to other classmates who do the same.

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“Students are going to use whatever resources they can to get a good grade,” he said.

Lancaster and Cotarlan concluded in their study that the growing issue must be aware of the possibility that students are using online resources to cheat on digital exams and that possible punishments for such behavior must be communicated to students. Automated monitoring systems might help, too.

“I’ve spoken to academic colleagues around the world and they’re reporting seeing more requests across a whole range of these sites,” Lancaster said. “They’re also detecting more students cheating. It pains me that’s happening, as those students are putting their academic future at risk, not realizing that they can be caught.”

On the other hand, Roberts noted that while it is “accurate to state that for many institutions, the number of cases reported has increased,” researchers “cannot be certain it means there has definitely been increased cheating.”

Students wearing protective masks study inside of the Thompson Library on the first day of classes at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Many faculty and instructors were more vigilant during online instruction because they knew the potential for misconduct was apparent. This vigilance led to increased reporting,” she explained.

A number of academic institutions “worked with faculty from the initial transition to online education last March to assist them in transitioning their courses online, and for many institutions, a major component of this transition was how to maintain the educational integrity of the course.”

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In any case, the end result of cheating is always the same: Students don’t retain as much information when classes are virtual.

“The biggest problem comes when students aren’t just getting support, but are also getting answers handed to them on a plate, without ever developing a real understanding of their subject,” Lancaster said. “That temptation is there and when students don’t feel they have support, they can be pushed towards misconduct.”

Bettag echoed this sentiment.

“With all this online stuff and professors not adapting as well as they should … in reality, what’s happening is, you’re creating a generation of incompetence,” Bettag said. “If you don’t have that pressure, what’s the point of even going?”

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He added that with only a few hours of classes per day and a lack of in-person activities, students feel pressured to pay for higher education that may not end up being completely worth the post-grad debt.

They’re “not really learning how to work and persevere” the same way they would if schools returned completely to a normal, pre-COVID state, he said.



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#Tools4Founders Campaign Invites Entrepreneurs to Seek Support for Mental Health Awareness Month

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AUSTIN, Texas, May 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Entrepreneurial Psychotherapist, Laura Shook Guzman, LMFT, is on a mission to raise awareness and normalize the prioritization of mental health in the workplace. “We live in a culture that glorifies the grind,” says Laura, “and Founders can feel like they can’t tell anyone what’s going on because they have to manage impressions.”

“Who’s taking care of you while you’re taking care of everyone else?” Laura Shook Guzman

Laura, who specializes in mental health for founders and entrepreneurs, is providing a comprehensive list of resources on her website for Mental Health Awareness Month as a part of her campaign, #Tools4Founders. Founders can find programs, podcasts and tips to support their mental health on the site and contribute to the community by sharing their favorite resources and using the hashtag #Tools4Founders the entire month of May.

“Together we can end the stigma surrounding entrepreneurial mental health.” Laura Shook Guzman.

72% percent of entrepreneurs suffer from one or more mental health issues according to the research of Dr. Michael Freeman, founder of Econa, a global center for entrepreneurial wellness. This research also shows entrepreneurs are 2x more likely to struggle with feelings of isolation, stress, and exhaustion, 3x more likely to to suffer from depression and substance abuse and 10x more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder.

Mental health and success are not mutually exclusive in the workplace. John Roa, Kristin Darga and Erik Severinghaus are all examples of highly successful founders that have written books emphasizing the importance of mental health.

“Healthy founders equal healthy returns. We believe there is a causal relationship between continuous founder self-improvement and the performance of their companies.” Venture capital firm, Alpha Bridge

The #Tools4Founders campaign is sponsored by Women Who Cowork and is gfiting 30 days of founder support for womxn and nonbinary founders of the coworking movement for entire month of May. Founders can sign up at this link. 

Media Contact:

Laura Shook Guzman, LMFT
[email protected]
512-402-6757

Laura Shook Guzman, LMFT, is a 23 year mental health professional, trauma therapist and serial entrepreneur. Founders can explore what mental health support would like with Laura Shook Guzman in a free fifteen minute consult with her http://bit.ly/laurashookguzmanconsultation

SOURCE Laura Shook Guzman



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Qatar orders arrest of finance minister

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Qatar’s public prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the finance minister to question him over alleged abuse of power and misuse of public funds in the energy-rich state.

The Qatar News Agency did not provide other details about the investigation, and the nature of the case against Ali Sharif al-Emadi, who has served finance minister since 2013, was not immediately clear.

Al-Emadi rose to prominence in the Gulf Arab emirate of Qatar after overseeing the growth of Qatar National Bank for years.

The statement said authorities were investigating reported crimes related to his public role. Arrests of such a high-ranking officials on suspicion of corruption are rare in Qatar.

Corruption remains rampant in Gulf Arab sheikhdoms flush with petrodollars and in the wider Middle East.

In its 2020 corruption perceptions index, which surveys economic experts about the perceived level of public sector corruption, corruption watchdog Transparency International listed Qatar among the least corrupt in the region, with a score of 63 out of 100.

The scale ranks countries between zero, which is “highly corrupt,” and 100, for “very clean.”



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ANZIIF Australian Industry Awards returns – submissions now open

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ANZIIF Australian Industry Awards returns – submissions now open

The Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) has announced that its Australian Insurance Industry Awards has returned for this year, making 2021 its 17th year.

The annual event acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals and businesses and recognises talents in the Australian insurance sector.

Submissions in 17 categories are now open, with the judging panel seeking individuals and organisations that can showcase how they have supported their customers, community, and their employees over the last year.

“We are overjoyed to see the return of the industry’s night of nights, following a year without physical events. The Australian insurance awards hold great significance for industry as they provide a platform for us to come together and celebrate the achievements and positive impact we have on our people and community,” said ANZIIF chief executive officer Prue Willsford.

This year, ANZIIIF tweaked its general insurance categories – including categories for small, medium, and large general insurance companies with criteria focused on customer outcomes. It also revised the broking and authorised representative (AR) categories, with AR companies now eligible to enter the broking categories.

The Australian Insurance Industry Awards categories for 2021 are:

  • Small Broking Company of the Year
  • Medium Broking Company of the Year
  • Large Broking Company of the Year
  • Authorised Representative Network of the Year
  • Underwriting Agency of the Year
  • Small General Insurance Company of the Year
  • Medium General Insurance Company of the Year
  • Large General Insurance Company of the Year
  • Life Insurance Company of the Year
  • Insurtech Program of the Year
  • Professional Services Firm of the Year
  • Service Provider to the Insurance Industry
  • Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
  • Insurance Learning Program of the Year
  • Young Insurance Professional of the Year
  • Insurance Leader of the Year
  • ANZIIF Lifetime Achievement Award

Submissions close on July 02, 2021.



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