"How can they catch me if they don't see me?"

With the increase of online course development, how students will uphold academic integrity is a major concern. In the “Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses? study, 635 undergraduate and graduate students self-reported cheating and specific dishonest behavior during live and online courses. The study found that the percentage of students that admitted to cheating in both of these learning environments were nearly the same. What did differ was the amount of different cheating behaviors, and the perception of cheating in an online class versus a traditional class.

These behaviors, and perceptions can be related to the “How can they catch me if they don’t see me?” feeling that online students may feel.

Cheating Behaviors

While getting answers to a quiz or test from someone who has already taken the assessment was higher in a traditional class setting, a higher percentage of online students admitted that someone had gave them answers during the actual assessment.


In a virtual space, students have the flexibility to take an assessment in areas outside of the classroom, this gives students more of an ability to have outside help whether that be another classmate, friend, or other individual. Students are more likely to use this outside resource than in the traditional classroom setting as it ties into the “they can’t see me” behavior.

What about getting caught cheating?

The percentage of students that have been caught cheating was significantly lower in online classes. While 4.9% of students in an traditional class setting had been caught, only 2.1% of students during an online class had been caught.


Without the monitor of a professor or proctor in an online environment, students are more likely to get away with cheating. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to “catch” dishonest behavior that goes unseen, and relates to “how can they catch me?”.

What about student’s perception of cheating?

Students felt that they were almost four times more likely to be dishonest in an online class than in an traditional class (42.2% to 10.2%) and that their classmates were over five times more likely to cheat (51.0 to 11.5%).


The feeling of anonymity in an online environment may contribute. If a student feels like they do not have that face-to -face interaction, or a relationship with a professor, it can go back to the “how can they don’t see me?” feeling which can apply to student identity (the professor doesn’t really know me/doesn’t really see me…)

Expansion of Online Courses

Overall, as the online education community grows, the need to maintain course integrity is evident. The common denominator for all of these occurrences and perceptions of online cheating can be resolved by monitoring students or in other words, online proctoring. It’s important to note while online proctoring can catch cheating, another main factor to consider is that it can also deter cheating. If students know they are being monitored, they will deter students from feeling that they will be dishonest in an online environment, and it will help deter students from utilizing outside resources, or other individuals for help.