Cheating can come with a heavy price, and a group of students from NUS found that out the hard way when they were were recently punished for cheating on a take-home exam in March.

On top of receiving zero marks for the exam, they have been barred from exercising the satisfactory/unsatisfactory option for the module.

The option to write off grades for up to 10 modular credits for any module taken last semester was made available to NUS students in light of the disruption to learning caused by the pandemic.

The students have been reprimanded, and the plagiarism offence will be included in their formal educational records at the university, said a spokesman for the NUS School of Computing last Thursday.

The spokesman declined to reveal how many students were caught but told The New Paper: “Thorough plagiarism checks were conducted to look into allegations of plagiarism in a practical examination for CS1010E programming methodology.

“Following the plagiarism checks, some of the students in class, which comprises engineering students, were found to have plagiarised in this practical examination.”

The checks were conducted through anti-plagiarism software and manual verification by course instructors.

The spokesman said the school and the university take a serious view of academic plagiarism.

In the previous semester, about 680 students took the CS1010E module, which is compulsory for engineering students. The exam in question was worth 15 per cent of their final grade.

TNP had reported in March that a significant number of NUS students taking an online exam had allegedly shared their answers and plagiarised one another despite reminders that there would be plagiarism checks and penalties if they were caught.

TNP understands that Mr Prabawa Adi Yoga Sidi, the lecturer for the module, had sent out an e-mail appealing to those who had cheated to confess.

A first-year chemical engineering student, 22, who took the exam told TNP last Friday that, to his knowledge, very few students confessed.

Requesting anonymity, he said: “Those who were caught got what they deserved.

“It would have been unfair if people who put in less effort than me achieved a better score. It is like laughing right into my face for all the effort I put in.”

A student who did admit to cheating told TNP that the penalties were fair.

He had video-called his friends to discuss the exam because of how difficult it was.

Asked how he felt when Mr Prabawa urged those who had cheated to confess, the first-year chemical engineering student, 21, said: “I remember feeling absolutely terrified as I didn’t know what to do.

‘Scare Tactic’

“I talked to some seniors and they said not to confess because it was just a scare tactic. But I was scared and worried that if I didn’t confess, it would be worse later on.

“I’ll never cheat again, that is for sure.”

The NUS School of Computing spokesman said the school and the university have put in place measures such as online proctoring, which is online invigilation, where students are monitored via a webcam, to preserve the integrity of online assessments.

He said students have also been reminded of the consequences for academic misconduct.

Text: Wong Yang / The New Paper / June 2020
Additional text: Sally Manik
Featured image: bondarillia / Envato Elements