A Tough Love Letter to CSI: Stop Blaming Students for Cheating

When Answer Banks Are Running Rampant, Why Are Teachers Surprised?

By: Salvatore Cento

It’s dangerous how far we’ve come since writing on our hands. Credit: bostonglobe.com

Two types of majors that cannot be farther apart in concept. Creative Writing and Computer Science. One is purely based on imagination and the other on logical computations.

For the first half of my college career, I was knee deep in the latter. Every class, working on writing enough code to get the current lab to somehow work and process the correct answer. 

Either that or trying to get through fifteen step mathematical equations that I still argue hold no real life use.

Halfway into this degree, I’ll admit that I was struggling. Sitting in my room all day (and almost all night) with papers all around me, constantly summarizing and re-writing equations hoping that something would just end up clicking and I would just come across my eureka moment.

But alas, that never came. Then the tutoring started to propel me forward. 

That didn’t help and I ended up falling behind because I was focusing on trying to understand past assignments too much.

After a while of just slipping more and more off the precipice while the majority of the class just kept on going, a solution finally presented itself. 

Answer Banks. Answer Keys. Zip Files.

After a couple of minutes searching on Google, they can be found online. A couple of minutes talking to the right person and your whole semester was put at ease.

Without going into specifics, I was enrolled in a certain computer science class where everything for the course (quizzes, exams, homework, finals and even the textbook in pdf form) was compiled into a zip file and shared with everyone in attendance. 

Then came another course where all the labs were available.

The most surprising part was that the dates on these items were from long past the time that I was in those classes. Two, three semesters ago. Even longer. 

At this point, I have to ask the question. When you hand out the same assignments time after time, what do professors really expect to happen?

Listen, in no way am I endorsing the act of cheating but do they really expect every single student in the class to play by the book when no difference has been made on their end to change the way things have been going? 

At that point, the mentality seems to be “I’ll just send this matter off to the school so they can handle it. I don’t want to have to do any more work than I am already doing.”

Besides the local connections one may run across and using those you know for an advantage, there is another issue within this context that needs a much more hands on approach.

All of the sources that are on the internet. Course Hero, OPPapers and a slew of other sites and apps disguise themselves as helpers when truth be told, homework can be scanned and uploaded without a problem.

When acts like the following are done day in and day out, why are students getting blamed when everything else before handing in an assignment comes and goes without a hiccup? 

If general academia wants to cut the head of this beast, revisit the whole process.

Get on the toes of these “study material” websites for a more thorough review of every file uploaded. Colleges could actually partner up with these types of websites for a more mainstream type of affair. 

On a smaller scale, professors could update and refresh their homework and assignments every semester instead of dishing out the same old thing. 

And a side note: please stop using textbooks that have the answers somewhere in them. You’re just stabbing yourself in the back when you do that.


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