U of R Students fed up with cheaters in faculty of engineering

Students who don't cheat in the faculty of engineering at the university of Regina are fed up with the ones who do, according to Brett King, who is the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers U of R chapter. Furthermore, he said teacher assistants are reluctant to confront cheaters.

Proposed solutions to tackle cheating include randomized seating plans, revised T.A. selection

The University of Regina's faculty of engineering said there was cheating during a fourth-year law and ethics exam. It's the latest of several allegations of academic misconduct to hit the faculty — and the students who don't cheat are fed up, according to the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers U of R chapter. (Shutterstock)

Some teachers assistants in the faculty of engineering are hesitant to confront cheaters at the University of Regina, said Brett King. 

"Because when you do call a kid out for cheating, a lot of them are very violent and will shout at you and threaten you, for not only just that time —  but throughout your semester," said King, who is the president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers U of R chapter. 

It really hurts the ones who are loyal students, who actually are ethical and will study for the grade.- Brett King, President of Society of Petroleum Engineers U of R chapter

Several allegations of academic misconduct have swirled around the faculty. Most recently, a "significant" number of students were suspected of cheating during a law and ethics exam.

The instructor told CBC the alleged cheating happened after he exited the room and left the teaching assistants in charge.

King said that's common, and according to his peers most of the cheating happens when teaching assistants are left to monitor the situation. 

He has experienced it firsthand.

"The prof left for about two minutes and you just heard a buzz in the back corner."

King said the society's academic integrity committee has discussed solutions to what appears to be a wide-spread problem. They want to see changes to the way the assistants are chosen, and suggested students volunteer for the position. 

He proposed that the dean of academics could look into each volunteer's background and those selected would monitor classes that weren't made up of their peers or friends. 

King also wants to see stricter guidelines on exams and suggested a randomized seating plan for each exam to combat cheating. 

"It really hurts the ones who are loyal students, who actually are ethical and will study for the grade," King said.

"When you're going to get a job, and a recruiter sees U of R and then they see all these scandals where there's cheating … it's pretty hard to know if that person's actually ethical or not."

There should be clearer guidelines on what evidence can be used to convict a student accused of cheating, so rule breakers don't successfully appeal, King said. 

"I've seen profs take pictures of the kid cheating and sometimes they throw that [evidence] out," he said.

University working toward change 

University of Regina President Vianne Timmons said academic misconduct has been a longstanding concern for the University and the feedback from an anonymous survey will help the institution improve current policy. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

University President Vianne Timmons emailed staff earlier this week and advised them to participate in an upcoming anonymous survey on academic conduct and integrity.  

In the email, it said academic misconduct has been a longstanding concern for the University and the feedback will help the institution improve current policy. Timmons declined an interview about the survey.

"The survey is part of a year-long project that will begin in the fall 2018 semester to assess the state of academic integrity on our campus and decide whether we need to make any changes to our policies and practices in that area," the email read.

Staff will be questioned on their awareness of plagiarism and cheating policy, the frequency of misconduct they've seen, and attitudes concerning the seriousness of academic misconduct.

Students have also been asked to participate in a similar survey. 

The internal discussion of the survey results will begin when students return to school in the fall, and recommendations are expected to be put forth in spring 2019.