Notes for next year’s syllabus: Cheating

I have caught a surprising number of students cheating in both my graphic design and Web design classes. Students have found a variety of methods of accomplishing this. Some are really obvious and some not so, but they all rely on an assumption that I am not paying close attention. So this is a warning going into next year’s syllabus:


If you cheat in my class there is an extremely good chance that you will be caught.

Cheating means that a student is not completing an assignment, quiz or test honestly and completely on his/her own. It is cheating if you do the work for someone else, or if you give your files to him/her in some way after you have completed them. It is also cheating if you simply give someone the answers to a quiz, or if you read the answers off of someone else’s paper.

It is not cheating if you help someone, but he/she must do all the actual work themselves. For example, completing tasks with the keyboard or mouse on someone else’s computer is cheating, not helping. Talking that student through it so that he/she does every step him/herself is helping. In other words, hands off!

Because they are usually both involved in the attempt to cheat, typically both the student doing the actual work and the student who did not do the work will be punished for cheating.

The consequences for cheating will include one or more of the following:

• A zero on that assignment for all parties involved. There will be no opportunity to change this assignment grade at a later time.
• A call or email home to the students’ guardians.
• A referral to a counselor or Vice Principal.

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

3 replies on “Notes for next year’s syllabus: Cheating”

I read your comments on cheating in today’s Sacramento Bee. I include in my course syllabus a section on Academic Honesty (interpretation…cheating). However the consequences are more severe than yours and also due to the extent of the cheating. The student not only receives a zero on that assignment, but can receive a “F” grade for the course, referred to the campus academic dean, and be expelled. It is a serious issue and I hope that the matter is addressed appropriately before the student attends college.

Although a noble goal, I can’t begin to tell you how many people in the real world cheat and get away with it. What’s worse, is sometimes those people get promotions because of it. And upper management condones it when they hear about it.

Sometimes I think academia doesn’t realize this because most never work outside the boundaries of a school wall.

In reference to the last comment. I agree that many people lie, cheat, and steal and get away with it…but that doesn’t make it right. We shouldn’t just let the kids get away with it just because others do. The underlying problem is that most of the students don’t see it as cheating and aren’t being taught that cheating is not how you get through life. At the point we get them as high school students sometimes it is too late, but it is never too late to help them learn the difference and hopefully make an impact.

I have cheaters every year and some are multiple offenses. It is sad, but something as teachers that we have to deal with.

Keep up the great work on the blog Dawn! I’m definitely using it as a source of inspiration for mine.

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