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Collegiate online cheating, a predictable result of COVID-19, may threaten the workplace

Oh, Dr. Peyton, I don’t know why I did it,” sobbed Tammy, the undergrad business major on the other end of the phone call. “I had an A going into your exam yesterday. … I didn’t even need to cheat.” Tammy was sobbing again. “Everybody else was doing it, and it was so easy.” More sobbing. “I’ve never done anything like this before … never.”

Tammy wasn’t alone in cheating on the exam in the junior-level course at a university in Texas during the pandemic. Tammy described how students would attempt to mount smartphones above their monitors so their eye movements might not arouse suspicion with the proctoring service watching the test-takers. Then another student would send answers to their phones.

This case (with names changed) was only one of thousands of online cheating incidents that occurred at universities worldwide since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. As higher-ed rushed to move classes online, it was predictable that cheating would occur. The situation had all three elements of the classic Fraud Triangle: perceived opportunity, perceived unshareable financial need (motive) and rationalization.

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