Classes are being conducted remotely since the school announced in March that they were clearing classrooms because of the coronavirus crisis. The students in the chemistry class suspected of cheating are suspected of using a website to gain an advantage.
In a letter to students obtained by NBC10 Boston, the professor of the course wrote, “we have learned that some of you have used various means, including websites such as Chegg, to get help during the quizzes given remotely. Doing so is a clear violation of the Academic Conduct Code.”
Chegg is a website that offers online tutoring and homework help with a monthly membership, but some students can use it to scheme by posting questions -- like from a test -- that they need answered.
While it didn't comment on the investigation, Chegg said it is cooperating with Boston University and will remove all content flagged by schools and professors.
Boston University's investigation was first reported by The Boston Globe reports.
The chemistry professor who emailed his students about what happened told the Globe that the situation was an "aberration."
“My colleagues and I knew the transition to remote teaching would present new challenges," Binyomin Abrams told the paper.
“Online learning presents challenges in conducting assessments that are not the same as in the classroom,” the professor said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Cybersecurity expert Robert Siciliano said it's no surprise if the students did cheat, given the many search tools available on the internet. He told NBC10 Boston that schools should be taking steps to prevent such issues, perhaps by using online proctors or requiring keystroke recognition.
"That’s an unfortunately very common way in which students today — whether they're high school or college or universities — are passing tests by getting third parties to either take the test for them or supply them with all the answers," Siciliano said.