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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Students using Chegg spark discussion within computer science department

Computer science faculty have expressed irritation about students using Chegg and other related sites to cheat on coding homework and exams

By JENNIFER MA — campus@theaggie.org 


With the shift to online learning during the pandemic, hundreds of reports of academic dishonesty have been made by faculty to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) each quarter, according to director of OSSJA Stacy Vander Velde.

Although academic misconduct occurs in every major and department, the computer science faculty have stated that they have been especially irritated by instances of cheating and have had intense discussions about homework-help websites. 

“Being computer science, I think we find more of [academic misconduct],” Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science Christopher Nitta said. “I don’t think that we’re necessarily worse than any of the other disciplines but just I think we have better tools of detecting it.”

According to most faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Vander Velde, this academic dishonesty does not only stem from the switch to virtual instruction. Vander Velde said that there are a variety of reasons that students engage in academic misconduct. 

“Some of these reasons include pressure (self-imposed or from others) to get a good grade, fear of failing, poor time management, and misunderstanding about types of actions that constitute academic misconduct,” Vander Velde said via email. “Additionally, they may struggle to understand the course material and think it’s unlikely that they’ll get caught. Students often tell us how hard they worked to understand the material and they just couldn’t get it.”

Chegg, an online academic help company worth $12 billion, is a commonly used site to cheat, particularly for science and math courses. Computer science instructor Dale Fletter explained specifically the takedown process for questions on Chegg.

“I take down one [question and answer]; a student searches for the question,” Fletter said. “They don’t find it. They submit it and ask for an answer and then within 24 hours, another answer is up. So you see that it’s a whack-a-mole problem.”

However, Chegg refutes the idea of the company being a mass-spreader of cheating. 

“We take any attempts to misuse our platform extremely seriously, and we also cooperate fully with official university investigations into allegations of cheating,” a Chegg spokesperson said via email. “We also launched Honor Shield which allows professors to confidentially, and without charge, pre-submit exam or test questions, preventing them from being answered on the Chegg platform during a time-specified exam period.”

Instead of cheating on homework and exams, Matthew Butner, a continuing lecturer in computer science, encourages reaching out to instructors for assistance.

“As your instructors, we want to see you succeed; we want to see you learn,” Butner said. “And it is very frustrating when we put all the effort to try to teach you and you decide for whatever reason to still cheat because it’s not benefiting you, even if it makes your GPA higher. When you’re struggling as a student, the priority is kind of on you to reach out for help if you need it. Because if you do it early, we have a lot more tools at our disposal to assist you.”

Written by: Jennifer Ma — campus@theaggie.org 


  1. The thing is that professors are not doing a good job of teaching. I have a computer scinece instructor for java. We are 3 weeks into the semester and finally he made his first announcement. to put it short, he stated that he is ” new” to teaching online and he apologizes for the lack of communication. He also announced the midterm that will be in about a week. The professor of java that im currently taking has not made any effort on teaching. No instruction videos, no responses to email questions, no way to reach out to the professor. Nothing. So currently we are learning from ” pay to do your homework websites” such as cengage, or pearson. and when you have that you feel a misconnection with the course and scammed cause you have to pay about 120 dollars to access it and only for 4 months.
    of note, other professors that I currently have for the semester have done the exact same thing. for computer management, he announces every week to read a chapter and answer questions at the end of the chapter from the course book which we also have to pay. he doesn’t teach, we just submit the work and done. And that’s the thing, a lot of misconnections with the students and the course. and unfortunately this is with all my classes. I have requested for instructional videos but my professor recommends YouTube. That came from my calc 2 professor. I do not want to be someone spending hours of videos that cannot offer the exact information required to learn a particular section of the work. Chegg has helped me learn by analyzing my own work in comparison to the answer that was provided. in short, it gives me an insight to the problem which I would have spent hours or days looking for. and if you oppose the professor about any particular inconvenience then they may fail you or deduct points on the grading system. I blame the school and professors for that.


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