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Engineering profs may use cameras to counter cheating

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, February 14, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 02:02

The Department of Civil Engineering is cracking down on cheating and homework collaboration by incorporating videotaping its students in certain classes.

"We do videotape student presentations at the undergraduate level for selected courses and at the graduate level for the students who take CIE 900 grad seminar," Robin Collins, chair and Davison professor of civil and environmental engineering, said. "I am not aware of videotaping during exams."

Departments in CEPS have enacted stricter policies for homework collaboration and have defined more clearly what constitutes cheating, as there have been problems with cheating in the past.

"I am not allowed to go to any of my peers for help, which is so much easier than trying to track down a TA or professor," Monica Plante, an engineering student, said.

For students, the added surveillance is not welcomed.

The possibility of a professor saying that cameras will be used to [monitor] exams is not surprising," Plante said. "However, it is extreme. I am disturbed by this news and I think other UNH students should also be.

"I don't think the university needs to use surveillance cameras to catch students cheating on exams," Plante said.

It has been confirmed that Dr. Melton, a professor in the civil engineering department, will use a surveillance camera to monitor students during exams for CIE 665.

Students believe other measures could be taken to prevent incidents of cheating.

"There are plenty of other resources, such as getting more teaching assistants to proctor exams and getting a larger room," Plante said. "Many times I have sat in classrooms without the proper spacing from other people to ensure no wandering eyes will look onto my paper."

Plante added that the wrong classroom size for exams is something that can be readily fixed. She feels professors are just too lazy to try and actually book a room with adequate size.

"The registrar needs to figure that situation out and have more large rooms available," she said. "In any case, surveillance cameras are not needed."

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Joe Williams
Mon Jul 2 2012 01:47
people, you do not have an expected right of privacy when you are in a public classroom.
Wed Feb 16 2011 21:03
@ Engineer Student

What about a right to privacy? Or even just being able to take an exam without having to worry about big brother watching you? Some students are under enough pressure having to take a difficult exam without having the feeling they are being spied on.

And metal detectors do not record and document your every move for an hour/hour and a half.

Wed Feb 16 2011 16:52
Oh snap! It takes *bells* to call your professors lazy in an article they can readily read.

Good luck in your Engineering career, Monica!

Wed Feb 16 2011 11:58
If I ever have a professor that wants to videotape an exam period, I would flat out refuse to take the exam. It's simply disrespectful. Maybe we should start placing video cameras in the professors' offices/lab? I wonder how Dr. Melton would feel about that.
Civil Student
Wed Feb 16 2011 10:47
This article is entirely misleading. First of all, the author of the article continually refers to "students", but only quotes one student throughout the entire article. I would like to know how many students in the department really think this is a problem. Is the quoted student even taking Dr. Melton's class, which is supposedly being videotaped? And as major whose main interest is public safety, why shouldn't exams be taped in order to deter cheating? Ask the public if they want cheaters designing their bridges and buildings and see what they say.

As for collaborating with other students on homework, the department encourages this on 95% of our assignments. Dr. Cook's Doer-Checker system is completely based on collaboration.

"I am not allowed to go to any of my peers for help, which is so much easier than trying to track down a TA or professor," ---This is absolutely not true.

To the author I would say check your sources.

And to the student - If you aren't cheating on exams, whats the big deal?

John 8:32
Tue Feb 15 2011 21:15
There is a huge difference between cheating and collaboration. It's amusing that most of the projects in CEPS are team oriented but working together on homework is apparently bad idea. As long as everyone can show the steps taken and reproduce them on a similar problem, there shouldn't be an issue. In the real world, i.e. having a job, the only "cheating" is plagiarism. After graduating from UNH I work at a place where I am expected to collaborate with others. Most of the time showing someone a method once is all it takes. I've also encountered some students that make excellent mentors, though they might not officially hold that role, and most TAs are so busy as it is. If the concern is catching real cheaters I'm all for it, just as long as it doesn't get ridiculous.
Tue Feb 15 2011 20:47
I would like it to be known that Monica Plante is NOT in this class. This article is uncalled for and it is clear that Ms. Plante doesn't understand how exams and scheduling work.
Engineer Student
Tue Feb 15 2011 17:34
If the video shows a student cheated during the test, then he/she will know the consequences of doing something he/she already know should not be doing, but that the professor or the TA was unable to catch.

If the video doesn't show any student cheating, then all students know the exam was fair.

I see it just like the metal detectors at an airport. Just making sure nothing bad/unfair happens.

Tue Feb 15 2011 15:16
Talk about overkill and a waste of tuition dollars. Cheating is more prominent in very large classes (200+ students) who are sitting in tight, close quarters... I've seen plenty of it in such situations and even reported it before.
Tue Feb 15 2011 13:50
There must be a better way to write about this story without showcasing a particularly bratty and entitled sounding student.

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