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ExPrep Gives Professors an Anti-Cheating Solution for Excel

Using ExPrep to automatically flag cheating, Professor Newberry can incorporate more assignments in Excel with peace of mind.

According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, a study conducted by Dr. Donald McCabe uncovered that 95% of the surveyed students admitted to cheating on a test or homework.

For professors utilizing Excel, this is concerning. Without the help of technology, plagiarism is nearly impossible to identify in Excel, and traditional grading systems don’t offer a method to check spreadsheets for cheating. After all, this isn’t a writing assignment where one can tell the difference between writing styles; everything is numbers based.

In this post, we will highlight how Professor Michelle Newberry from Samford University leveraged ExPrep to establish cheating surveillance that flags student submissions if plagiarism occurs.

“ExPrep is the window sticker that there is an alarm system installed in your home. Its going to stop them in the act.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Uphold academic integrity and actively prevent cheating with the ExPrep Grader.
  2. Ensure students are completing assignments on their own.
  3. Nurture student confidence in their Excel skills

How it Began

At Samford University, Professor Michelle Newberry teaches Principles of Financial and Managerial Accounting. Each Semester, Newberry teaches approximately 100 students across her Accounting courses.

Newberry’s goal is to develop student confidence in Excel. Still, one variable she had to account for was her student’s tendency to prioritize completing the work rather than comprehending the lesson.

In the past, Newberry used McGraw-Hill’s Connect, which leverages adaptive learning to reinforce the knowledge a student picks up. However, she quickly realized McGraw-Hill reinforced the student’s habit of clicking through their homework rather than taking time to understand the assignment. When it comes to Excel, students’ lack of exposure creates anxiety when working within spreadsheets and increases their likelihood of relying on another student to complete the assignment.

Newberry set out to incorporate more Excel into her course but had to overcome the lack of visibility into how students were completing their work, given their propensity to cheat on assignments. She structured her grading to weigh quizzes and exams more than assignments. The grading structure limits how a student would perform if they plagiarize an assignment. If a student doesn’t understand the concepts, they will perform poorly on the quizzes and exams, which has a more significant impact on their overall grade. Restricted in her approach, Newberry knew if she wanted to get her students confident with Excel, she would need something to prevent them from cheating.

“If a student submits a workbook without opening it up, it’s a disservice to themselves.”

Through ExPrep, Newberry has anti-cheating built directly into her assignments that will flag a student’s submission if copied or directly uploaded from another student’s workbook. ExPrep’s platform provides a separate workflow to engage with flagged submissions and resolve the issue efficiently. The platform identifies all students involved in each plagiarism event, providing professors surveillance over their assignments.

The ExPrep Impact

In a discussion with Professor Newberry, she provided more context into the benefits of ExPrep.

The goal to catch the students cheating is not an ‘I gotcha’ moment. I often let them off with a warning. The fact I’m able to identify which student’s workbook they copied off of deters them from cheating. Once they see I have that level of insight in my surveillance, I have peace of mind they won’t try it again.

My goal is not to unearth the cheaters of the world, it’s to set reasonable, real world boundaries. If you let people take advantage of you now, how do you plan on handling this during your career?

It’s a lesson in human nature. If the students cheat, they won’t learn the concepts. Now I have insights into my class’ behavior. I can tell who works together and it’s evident in how they seat themselves in the classroom too. ExPrep is the window sticker that there is an alarm system installed in your home. It’s going to stop them in the act.

Overall, I never expect 100% ethical threshold or to stop all students from cheating. You can never expect or implement that. You’ll go crazy. My goal is to reduce the risk to make it a little harder. I then speak with students about what pressures them into cheating. It’s usually that they’re scared to admit they don’t know how to use Excel or that they’ve procrastinated.

Academic integrity is a severe matter for universities and can go unnoticed within Excel. As a professor, you put a lot of work into building assignments to prepare your students. What are you doing today to prevent cheating?

Are you interested in using ExPrep for your course? Check out our website and schedule a demo!



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