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New project to reduce cheating at Lund University

Siluettes of students studying. Photo: Kenneth Ruona.

The number of reports of cheating at LU has increased considerably and now a project is starting that aims to prevent the students from cheating by providing support to teaching staff. Elin Bommenel will lead the project, which is to run from 1 September 2022 to 31 December 2023.

There has been a marked increase in the number of reports of cheating in recent years. In 2019, cheating at the University increased by 100 per cent and thereafter by a further 66 per cent. This entails a lot of additional work for teaching staff and administrators. The case processing periods are long, meaning the students have a long and uncertain wait concerning what happens next.

Now, a prevention project is starting to help reduce the number of reports of cheating among students. Elin Bommenel has been tasked with mapping the extent of the problem, looking at the causes behind the increases and drawing up proposals for prevention that will help to reduce the number of cases.

The increase is mainly in plagiarism of texts from the internet and the use of prohibited study aids or prohibited cooperation with a friend.

The definition of plagiarism is that a person uses someone else’s words, thoughts or work and presents it as their own,” says Elin Bommenel. 

There is much to suggest that the increase stems from changed forms of examination during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think that part of the increase in cheating, in addition to previously well-known ways to mislead, may be because students and teaching staff find it hard to understand what is permitted and what is not,” says Elin Bommenel.

In addition, there is a lot that goes unrecorded. The calculations include only the cases that are actually reported to the Disciplinary Board. Teaching staff have an obligation to report regarding suspected cheating, but in practice that’s not enough to proceed with the matter.

“Many teaching staff members don’t know how to report cheating and they don’t always get compensation for the extra time that an investigation requires,” says Elin Bommenel.

The overall aim is to reduce the number of suspected cases of cheating at LU. To achieve that, the project is to establish procedures and teaching materials for teaching staff so that they in turn can instruct the students to do the right thing. Teaching staff will also be offered training and support in writing reports when suspicions of cheating arise.