11 Ways to Prevent Cheating in Schools
In working with teachers for more than 30 years, one of the most common frustrations we hear across the board is the fact that students cheat to get ahead.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a recent problem. Academic dishonesty has been around since before anyone can remember.
And even though this is a problem with seemingly no solution in sight, we’ve got some ideas to help you make some changes in your school.
These 11 strategies are proven to help prevent cheating in the classroom, and they can work for you too.
But before we get into the list of strategies, take a moment to think about why your students may be cheating their way through your class.
After all, knowing the reasons behind why your students cheat can help you choose the most appropriate anti-cheating strategies for your classroom!
Do they dislike the topics? Is the pressure to get good grades too much? Are they looked down on for asking for help?
Whatever the answers may be, it’s is an important aspect to consider when picking a strategy.
That’s because depending on why your students cheat, some items on the list may work better for you than others.
Now that you’ve got a few thoughts about why your students cheat swimming around in your head, let’s get to the good stuff!
1. Talk About Honesty & Integrity
Discussing honesty and integrity is a great starting point for any teacher who has concerns about cheating in the classroom.
Even though your students may have already learned these concepts, it’s a good idea to discuss them in relation to your class specifically.
This may not sound like it will prevent cheating by itself, but it’s at least a good reminder of academic integrity.
Plus, if you’re upfront about your expectations, that could be all that some students need to hear to think twice before cheating.
2. Teach Digital Responsibility
In today’s educational world, many teachers use digital resources in their classroom.
While it’s incredibly useful, this technology can sometimes make it easier for sneaky students to cheat on assignments both in class and at home.
To cover your bases, it’s smart to spend at least one class period discussing digital responsibility.
This will help you teach students about the importance of honesty, integrity, and decision-making using online tools.
By explaining the responsibilities your students have to make good decisions (including not cheating), you’re reinforcing classroom expectations.
3. Create an Anti-Cheating Pledge
Some teachers find another way to reinforce integrity and honesty is to create an Anti-Cheating Pledge.
Essentially, this pledge will define your classes rules related to cheating and academic honesty. It should be cut-and-dry to prevent anyone from trying to find a loophole when caught cheating.
You can create your own document or use a pre-generated one, but some teachers find more success when students are involved in creating the pledge themselves!
Afterall, if students collectively come up with the rules related to cheating, they’ll hold each other accountable for not breaking them.
(This is one of the times you’ll see peer pressure work in a positive way!)
After finalizing the details, have each student sign the pledge and agree to uphold everything included.
To make the anti-cheating pledge front and center, you could even turn it into a poster to hang on your classroom wall.
This poster will act as a constant reminder to any student in your class that they’ve singed the pledge and are expected to uphold it!
4. Make Different Versions of Your Assessments
To combat cheating on tests specifically, you can make multiple versions of the same assessment.
Whether it’s a paper test or online assessment, you have a lot of options for doing this.
Many teachers create two or three versions of the same test with the questions in a different order on each version.
In other cases, teachers will reword questions on each version.
Once you’ve created the different versions, you’ve got another decision to make.
Some teachers don’t tell their students they’ve created different versions.
This can help you spot students who’ve copied someone else’s answers because the cheating student will have incorrect answers for their test, but the correct ones for the other version!
Other teachers will choose to tell their students they’ve made multiple versions of the test.
They do this because sometimes being upfront with this information, it will discourage students from trying to cheat in the first place!
5. Switch Up Seating on Test Day
In some classrooms, students who sit together may plan to cheat off of each other’s tests.
If this is a problem in your classes, you can switch seating in your classroom every test day.
On test day, assign students to sit in a different place than their normal seat. You can decide where each student will sit and make sure students who tend to cheat are placed away from each other.
Most teachers won’t tell students about the seating changes, in case students still try to make plans to cheat.
If you’ve got one or two stubborn students who try to game the system, they’ll likely bother everyone else in the class to try and cheat.
In turn, there’s bound to be a student who tells you what’s going on and you can implement one of the other strategies on the list to prevent avid cheaters.
6. Use Multiple Assessment Styles
In education, quizzes and tests can be either formative or summative assessments.
Formative assessments evaluate how well a student is learning the material through the course.
Summative assessments measure how much a student learned during the course.
Essentially, that means formative assessments can occur at any point in time and summative assessments are performed at the end of a unit or class.
Teachers usually emphasize summative assessments like final exams or end-of-course reports when they determine final grades. In turn, that means students have more incentive to cheat on those types of assessments!
To take the pressure off and reduce the urge to cheat, try incorporating a more even balance of formative and summative assessments in how you give grades to your students.
7. Manage Access to Personal Devices
Regardless of whether your students actively cheat in the classroom, it’s a good idea to make rules about cellphones and other devices during testing.
Some teachers instruct all students to place their phones on their desks facedown so the teacher can see where they are.
Other teachers create a designated area (such as a drawer or basket) where students must place their phones when they enter the classroom.
You could even make this a benefit to your students by turning it into a “charging station” for students to plug their phones in during the day.
Even with these types of policies in place, some students will try to sneak their phone past you.
If this becomes a problem, you could may need to confiscate phones you see out during the test.
8. Check the Settings on Digital Study Tools
Sometimes, sneaky students figure out ways to turn study resources into cheating opportunities.
One of the most common culprits is account-based study resources like Quizlet. These are excellent ways to help students study and review key information.
But if you don’t review the settings for who can access the resources, you and your students could inadvertently be helping students cheat!
Your study resources may end up in Google search results, they may be passed between students in different sections of the same class, and more!
That’s why it’s smart to go through any external study tool and review all of the settings available.
Keep an eye out for either privacy settings or accessibility settings to control what students can access and when.
9. Change the Structure of Your Tests
In the era of standardized testing, millions of assessments have adopted the format of multiple choice questions.
Rather than asking these questions that rely on students memorizing information, challenge their critical thinking skills by asking open-ended questions.
Even if a student tries to peek at another person’s answers, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to copy the information down.
If they do, you’ll see two identical answers from students who sit next to each other -- a certain indicator someone was cheating!
10. Create an Atmosphere of Asking Questions
If you have a group of students who struggle to take tests but don’t like to ask for help, this is the strategy for you!
Try changing your teaching style to encourage students to ask questions at any point in time, without being reprimanded for interrupting class.
It’s also a great idea to have them think critically about what you’re discussing and give their own opinions on the topic.
You could even set up a way for students to have better access to remediation when needed.
This strategy helps students feel more comfortable asking for help, improving their own knowledge, and succeeding on tests.
11. Change How You Define Success in Your Classroom
For any teacher, it can be easy to keep a mental note of “good” and “bad” students. Good students get good grades and bad students don’t, and everyone knows who is on which list.
But if that’s how you define success, you’re only feeding the problem of cheating to get good grades!
Praising effort and progress over grades can encourage active learning in “bad” students.
By acknowledging the hard work of every student in your class, you’re showing that you care more about their work ethic than the numbers next to their name.
After all, you went into teaching to help students learn -- not to teach to a test!
How Do You Prevent Cheating in Your Classroom?
We’ve shared our top 11 tips for preventing cheating, but there’s a lot of other ideas out there!
Is there anything missing from our list that you found helped in your classroom?
Are you looking for even more ideas?
Join the AES Educator Community to share your thoughts and ask other teachers what they’re doing!