Last week, after a student confessed to using a “study guide” site to complete one or more of her homework assignments, I did some Googling. While I think I found what she was using—the words and phrases were changed up—I discovered that another of my students was using the answers in their entirety. That led to more searching. Here are two sites that a few of my students are using.
First, let’s find your college or university. In the top navigation bar, click on “Find Study Resources” and search “by School”—K-12 or higher ed.
For my college, here are the “Popular Departments.”
Under each department are documents and Q&As.
A document is a file uploaded by a student. Clicking on a document gives you a preview of the first part of it. If you want the whole thing, you need to do one of two things. You can pay $119.40/year, $59.85/three months, or $39.95/month. Or you can share your own document.
Students can “Ask Expert Tutors” questions—like homework assignment questions—and the “tutors” will, well, do the student’s homework for them—in as little as 15 minutes. If a student signs up for a year’s membership, they can “ask up to 40 Tutor Questions” per year. The 3-month membership allots 20 questions per quarter. The monthly membership grants 10 questions/month. At 8am Pacific Time on Monday, March 2, 2020, CourseHero reports that I can “get help from our Psychology tutors, 538 are online now!”
Is it cheating?
If a student uses a document or an answer from the site, yes, it is cheating. What if a student uploads a document to the site? The only reason to upload a document is to get a document, so that certainly points in the direction of obtaining unauthorized assistance. Your institution’s student code of conduct may also explicitly state that giving unauthorized assistance to other students is also cheating. The Washington (State) Administrative Code 1231-125-100(1)(a) (part of the rules that govern my college) reads “Cheating includes any attempt to give or obtain unauthorized assistance relating to the completion of an academic assignment” (emphasis mine).
If you can’t match a document with a student, you may not know which of your students has uploaded content, although sometimes students make it easy. A couple of my students have used their names in their Course Hero account name. Others left their names on their documents when they uploaded them.
As you would with any instance of cheating, submit a report to the person/office at your institution who handles student conduct code violations.
If the document or question a student has asked includes your words, it is a copyright violation. For example, my students have submitted questions I’ve asked on homework assignments or take-home exams—word for word.
On Course Hero’s copyright page, there is a “Submit Takedown Request” button. You can use this to request that documents students have uploaded be removed and that questions that you wrote and that students have asked “tutors” for answers to be removed. In Part 2 of the form, note that you can click the button to “Add another work.” The “Remove Item” button is for deleting the request you just entered. It’s confusing, I know.
When I have submitted these requests to Course Hero, the offending documents/Q&As have been removed with a day or two.
Here, students can ask “experts” for help with homework, they can have Chegg look for plagiarism in a paper, and they’ll solve a student’s math problems (and they’ll show their work)—all for a price.
The cheating my students have done has come from asking “experts” for help with my assignment questions. I have found questions new to my assignments this term posted to Chegg. Finding them is a bit more labor-intensive than it is with Course Hero. At Chegg, you need to paste content from your assignments into the Chegg search box.
Like Course Hero, you will see the question and part of the answer. To see the answer, you need to pay $14,95/month (allowing you to ask 5 questions/month) or $19.95/month (allowing you to ask 20 questions/month).
Is it cheating?
If a student pastes one of your homework questions, someone else answers it, and the student uses that answer or some version of that answer, yes, it’s cheating.
If the question the student asked on the site was written by you, then Chegg is violating your copyright on those words by using them without your permission.
Chegg, unfortunately, makes it harder to submit takedown requests. At the very bottom of their pages, in the “Legal Policies” column, click on “Intellectual Property Rights.” This is the pdf they want you to complete. It’s not a fillable pdf, so you will have to open it in a program that will allow you to edit pdfs. There is only space on the form to enter one web address at a time. I recommend filling out all of the information and saving it as a new document. Change the webpage information, and save as a new document. Repeat. Once you have all of the documents complete, “fax it to Chegg at (408) 855-8954, email it to CopyrightAgent@Chegg.com, attn: Copyright Agent – Dana Jewell, or mail it to Copyright Agent, Chegg, Inc. 3990 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara, CA 95054.”
When you find a few students who are cheating, remember that their cheating is not about you. And, just as importantly, most of your students are not cheating.
What “study guide” sites are your students using?