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Academic Integrity Resources for Faculty: Academic Dishonesty

How to address cheating in the classroom...

image of a hand holding a cheat sheetThink about ways that cheating can be prevented on your assignments and tests and develop a plan for how you will handle the situation if it occurs. In the columns below, you will find helpful tips to help you address cheating before the violation happens, in the moment that it is occurring, or after the fact when the assignment or exam has already been submitted.



Image from Wikipedia: Cheating

Before the Violation:

Touch base with your department chair and other faculty to better understand departmental practices related to cheating. Prevent academic dishonesty from happening by incorporating the following suggestions into your class:



The course syllabus should include a statement about academic misconduct and be sure to include information about your own policy. More information on academic misconduct can be found in the MSU Billings Student Policies & Procedures Handbook, which is available here: Code of Student Conduct: Academic Misconduct. Consider having students sign an agreement to the syllabus contents.


Academic Support Center:

The ASC is a great resource for students. Their staff can assist students in learning how to properly credit sources to avoid being accused of plagiarism.



Allow students to submit papers to Turnitin in order to check for originality and fix any potential problems prior to submission for grade.


Assignment/Test Design

Design assignments and exams so they are cheat-proof! Consider giving exams with short essay responses instead of true/false, fill-in-the-blank, or multiple choice questions. Frequent low-stakes quizzes minimizes the likelihood of cheating compared to offering high-stakes infrequent exams. Prepare different versions of exams or utilize a question shuffle option for online tests.

Have students perform an in-class writing assignment so that you will have a writing sample to compare with on future assignments.


Be Proactive

Take proactive steps before and during any exams to minimize cheating. 

  • Remind students of what they are allowed to use on the exam (i.e. notes, textbook, calculator)
  • Communicate your cheating policy
  • Physically separate students
  • Walk around and stand in the back of the room. Watch for wandering eyes or quiet conversations.
  • Be aware of paper mills.

In the Moment:

You just noticed a student who is cheating on an exam. What can you do?

  • Immediately attend to any suspicious (but not conclusive) behavior where you think cheating may be occurring. For example, separate students from each other or remind students to keep their eyes on their own papers.
  • Discreetly confiscate any cheat notes and retain them as evidence. Make a note on the student's exam indicating at what point the cheat notes were confiscated.
  • Remain calm and do not make threats that your school cannot back up.


Read "Cheating: Preventing and Dealing with Academic Dishonesty" for some helpful info.

After the Fact:

Sometimes you become suspicious of cheating after the paper, assignment, or exam has been submitted. 


Consider these tips:

  • Allow students to submit papers to Turnitin for originality analysis.
  • Librarians can help you locate original sources (i.e. books or articles) so that you can more closely analyze student papers. 
  • Ask a colleague for a 2nd opinion while protecting the student's name.
  • Give administration a head's up that you may have an instance of plagiarism.

Meeting tips:

  • Have an in-person or phone conversation with the student. Do not accuse and do not record the meeting.
  • Be polite and conversational. Get a confession before you level an accusation.
  • Use this as a teachable moment by referring back to the syllabus.
  • Document what was done by emailing the student and copying the department chair.
  • Ensure students have an unbiased appeal process.

What isTurnitin?

TurnItIn is a "plagiarism detection" software integrated into Desire2Learn. It checks assignments for similarities against other works.