NUS students given zero marks for cheating during online take-home exam

Imagine cheating on an online exam in the School of Computing.

Jason Fan | June 15, 2020, 05:15 PM

A number of students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) were awarded zero marks for a take-home practical examination after they were found to have plagiarised during the assessment.

The students have been reprimanded, and the offence will be part of the formal educational records of these students.

Not clear how many students were caught

According to a spokesperson from the NUS School of Computing, some of the students in the class, which comprises Engineering students, cheated in a practical examination for the module CS1010E Programming Methodology.

It is unclear how many students took part in the plagiarism, and how many were caught.

The practical examination concerned is one of several assessments in the module, and takes up 15 per cent of the total marks.

The students were caught after plagiarism checks were conducted, which involved the use of anti-plagiarism software and manual verification by course instructors.

According to the spokesperson, the students will not be allowed to exercise the satisfactory/unsatisfactory option for this compulsory module, which is an option given to NUS students for the semester following the disruption caused by Covid-19.

Took to NUSWhispers to brag about their cheating exploits

Earlier in March 2020, The New Paper reported that the examination was usually held in a class setting, but the lecturer teaching the module, Prabawa Adi Yoga Sidi, allowed students to take the assessment home as part of Covid-19 precaution measures.

Students were required to log in at the same time to work independently on three tasks, comprising seven questions, and submit their answers online.

About 680 students were reported to have been taking the module during the semester.

After allegations of plagiarism surfaced, Prabawa sent out an email to students urging those who had cheated to confess.

While some reportedly came forward and admitted to plagiarism, others allegedly "begged for mercy" from their lecturer on Facebook page NUSWhispers, claiming that a cheating record was as good as criminal record for these students.

One post claimed that the plagiarism incident took place due to "extraordinary times", where many of the students were "stressed, worried, frightened."

The post even claimed that it was not far fetched that students might commit suicide due to the punishment.

Other posts, which claimed to be from students who have taken the module in the past, suggests that such a cheating incident was not an isolated incident.

One of such posts was allegedly written by a senior student in the NUS School of Computing.

The student said that they did not disapprove of cheating, and claimed that they cheated in past modules as well.

They said that they were "sad that students these days are so unskilled at cheating", and added that the incident was merely a wake up call for them to "improve their cheating game".

Another post, which claims to be written by a student who took part in the same examination, said that although they "did plagiarise extensively", they were not caught as they did not copy from students who currently took the module.

Instead, they allegedly got help from students who have taken the module in the past, and claimed that the moral of the story was that one can cheat, but simply needs to know how to cheat.

There was also a recent post made by a student who claimed to have taken part in the cheating incident, but was not caught.

The person claimed that although they were not caught, they felt guilty and "can't sleep every night" as their friends were caught and punished.

According to NUS School of Computing's spokesperson, NUS will continue to be vigilant against academic misconduct, and students have also been reminded of the serious consequences if they are found responsible for any academic misconduct.

Top image via NUS and NUSWhispers.