How do y'all handle cheating on coding assignments?

How do y’all handle cheating on coding assignments?

On one hand, cheating is hard to detect. Especially for course-based assignments, which are prescriptive and follow defined patterns, two students could code on their own and end up with very similar code.

On the other hand, I sometimes get two sets of code turned in with the same crazy function names, same out-of-place comments and same errors, which could only be the result of a copy-and-paste.

I want to follow school policy for the second case. But, without a plagiarism checker of some kind, I will only find the more obvious cases, so I can’t implement the policy consistently.

How do y’all handle this?


Hi @carol.ramsey ,

My approach is to not grade (or count less) things that are more easily cheat-able (usually practice), so instead grading tests/quizzes and projects. Combine this with having assigning/problems/projects that are more open-ended, decreasing the likelihood (aka raising the suspicion) of similar-looking student work.

In cases like you pointed out when there’s pretty strong evidence of copying, I point that out to the student(s) involved individually and have them explain their work. Depending on the situation, I may assign zero points and follow up with whatever plagiarism action if I think necessary. In these cases, I lead the conversation with the evidence and it’s usually pretty plain when they see my point of view why I’m highly suspicious of cheating. (In other words, “this is what I saw and here’s the conclusion I came to” instead of “I know you cheated and here’s how I know”)

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Thanks for the info, Frank!