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University of Iowa Investigating Cheating Among Online Students

IOWA CITY, IA – Safeguards in place to prevent cheating among University of Iowa online students recently detected “potential irregularities” during an exam, prompting the institution to launch an academic misconduct investigation.

The revelations came after ProctorU, a national proctoring service that the university partners with to provide identity verification for several online courses, alerted UI officials that at least 30 students enrolled in online courses might have tried to cheat by having other people take their tests.

The proctoring service flagged potential instances of cheating through discrepancies in identification provided by test-takers in one or more exams and — in some cases — in multiple courses. A statement provided by UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck says the institution is reviewing each case and will determine appropriate next steps.

“The university takes the issue very seriously and is reviewing the matter carefully,” Beck said. “If it is determined a student has cheated, the university will take appropriate disciplinary action.”

That could include expulsion or suspension, she said.

Beck declined to disclose details of the alleged instances of cheating, including the affected courses and when the tests were taken.

In a statement from ProctorU, officials reported alerting the University of Iowa to “an issue our process detected.” The university, according to ProctorU, has taken steps to address the issue with those students involved.

“With an evolving online education environment, institutions are faced with the challenge of maintaining quality, rigorous standards and a consistent experience in online courses and assessments,” according to ProctorU. “Unfortunately, some students are tempted by the anonymity of online programs, which is why it is important for colleges and universities to have systems in place to ensure the integrity of not only their institution, but also that of their students.”

More than 800 institutions internationally partner with ProctorU to ensure their online programs’ integrity. It uses real people and technology to help institutions “identify any student anywhere for any authentication need.”

Its multistep identification process involves a live person who can see a student via webcam, check their ID, take a photo, and authenticate their identity. Each student then has a record that includes a photo, IP address, and keystroke analysis.

Additionally, Beck said UI has “many procedures in place to protect academic integrity,” and it will continue to adjust those procedures, if necessary.

“At the University of Iowa, we are focused on academic excellence and integrity and strive to ensure that our students understand what is required to meet our standards of academic integrity,” Beck said in the statement. “There are times when students stray from those standards and when that happens, there are repercussions.”