Preventing Cheating in Distance Education

For professors, one of the big drawbacks of distance learning is the potential for a student to cheat on or plagiarize assignments for the class. Unfortunately, students sometimes feel as though they have more room to cheat in a hybrid or online course, since their professor cannot always physically see them.

The Faculty Assistance Center for Teaching (FACT) at Utah State University has put together the guide How to Prevent Cheating in Distance Education. Meant for instructors, the guide gives helpful tips on how to plan and organize your distance learning class in a way that prevents cheating and promotes learning. Here are some highlights:

  • Require students to take proctored exams. If this is not possible, set a time limit on online exams and only make them available for a few days.
  • Use videoconferencing for class discussions, lectures, or monitoring students while they take online exams.
  • Assign group projects for students and have them grade each other at the end.
  • Assign work regularly and frequently.
  • Have students turn in a writing sample before any work is assigned. This way, the instructor will get a feel for the student’s writing style and will better detect plagiarism.
  • Interact and communicate with students frequently, especially when emailed questions about assignments or the course.
  • Create a lesson around plagiarism. Introduce students to what it is, review sample papers to detect plagiarism, and express that you know about paper mill sites.


  1. The feeling of cheating evolves from the very attitude he /she has towards the subject.If we are really interested in the subject such incidents wont occur. Well i did my distance education in Inspection Courses .But never felt to cheat.So is it the problem of our mindset or the education system?

  2. It is the problem of our mindset Katraine . I can’t agree more . Nothing can be learned out of compulsion . Even I did a distance education program in Construction License from Freedom Business School at California .Most of them does such courses along with their jobs . Lack of time might be a problem they face . But that won’t justify the practice of cheating !

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