TU Dublin had 445 cases of alleged cheating in online exams during pandemic

TU Dublin had 445 cases of alleged cheating in online exams during pandemic

Technological University Dublin has had 445 cases of alleged cheating in online exams during the pandemic.

Technological University Dublin has said the move to online learning is likely a factor in a large number of cases of alleged cheating in the past two years, with more than 400 individual cases since the start of 2020.

Figures released through Freedom of Information show that 20 students were investigated for plagiarism arising out of one incident on December 17, 2020. 

In a separate case, another 12 students were alleged to have colluded during an end-of-semester online exam, one of 30 instances of collusion during an online examination in that part of the college alone.

At least 445 individual cases of alleged plagiarism or cheating were recorded across the various schools and campuses that form TU Dublin since the start of last year.

The detail was provided by the college in relation to the types of alleged cheating by some students and how it was detected, in many cases through plagiarism-checking applications, such as Turnitin.

For example, at the Department of Informatics, TU Dublin Blanchardstown campus, 38 alleged incidents of cheating were investigated last year and another 42 were recorded up to the end of October this year.

In one incident, a student persistently denied plagiarism, but the original source of the assignment was subsequently found on the online site, coursehero.com. 

In another case, a student "resubmitted a practical report in its entirety that he submitted last year".

A small number of cases involved use of a mobile phone in an exam, but the most common form of cheating was plagiarising from online sources. In one case from last January, "the entire submission appears to be simply a download of work from the web".

There were 62 incidents of alleged cheating within the TU Dublin Department of Humanities in the same period, and 25 plagiarism cases reported by lecturing staff for the Department of Engineering since the start of last year.

There were 12 allegations arising from the School of Business and 85 at the College of Business on Aungier St, including 27 cases of alleged plagiarism and two cases of alleged collusion from last May.

At the College of Engineering and Built Environment, Bolton St, there were another 81 cases, including plagiarism and collusion. Last January, collusion among 12 students during an end-of-semester online exam was proven and all had to resit. That was one of 30 separate incidents of alleged collusion between students during the siting of an online exam.

At the Academic School & Departments, TU Dublin, 12 students were detected plagiarising on a date in October 2020, and the following December, 20 students were involved in a similar incident.

Professor Brian Bowe, head of academic affairs at TU Dublin, said there were a "number of different contributing factors" regarding the figures, including that TU Dublin has approximately 28,500 students.

"The variation in the representations of information contained within responses you have received from TU Dublin and from other HEIs, along with the fact that other HEIs have requested extensions to the deadline, bears out a reporting issue already identified by QQI’s National Academic Integrity Network (NAIN), when it sought similar information from all HEIs last year as part of its own work," Prof Bowe said. 

"Differences in terminology and definitions, difficulties in detection and reporting consistency are all being actively tackled by the network."

He said plagiarism represented a large proportion of the cases listed.

"The standard, integrity, and quality of our awards is of the utmost importance and TU Dublin's investment in anti-plagiarism software, and the associated integration and training, has been stepped-up since the pandemic and this has possibly led to increased detection rates.

"TU Dublin’s figures likely reflect the pivot to almost entirely online delivery and assessment in the date range specified."

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