Students in an online finance class at Texas A&M were starting to close out the semester when they received an email from the director of the Aggie Honor System Office. "I would like to encourage you in the strongest way to reclaim your personal integrity," read the missive from Timothy Powers, addressing those who may have participated in what faculty fear is a cheating scandal "on a very large scale," per the Texas Tribune. It involves the Chegg tutoring website, which was found to have posted answers to entire exams online. Faculty at Texas A&M say they became suspicious after noting the finance students answered questions on their own online exams faster than they could have possibly read them. Powers tells the Tribune that Texas A&M saw a 20% or so increase in academic dishonesty reporting this semester compared with last fall.
Other schools around Texas and the US have seen a similar spike in cheating reports, and Chegg has been specifically implicated, including at schools such as Boston University and Georgia Tech. Aggies interviewed by the Tribune say the temptation to use Chegg was exacerbated by the pandemic, which made it harder for them to seek out study partners or teacher aid. They also note it's a "gray area" in differentiating between using the computer for help and cheating. Powers scoffs at that excuse, noting that if students use actual test questions, "they should realize this is inappropriate." As for Chegg, the company says it will offer up user info to schools if cheating is suspected. Officials at Texas A&M, meanwhile, informed students that any who'd cheated had until Dec. 8 to turn themselves in; if they didn't and were later caught, the school could suspend or expel them. No one has yet seen that punishment, though multiple self-reporters say they were given an F in the course. (Read more cheating stories.)