September 17, 2021

Rettinger Discusses Grade Obsession, Cheating with Bakersfield.com

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science David Rettinger weighed in on a recent article on Bakersfield.com (California) on how focusing too much on grades can often lead to cheating.

It’s been a rough year for authentic learning. High school and college cheating levels are skyrocketing — or, at least, more professionals are looking for cheating and finding it. “I’ve seen 100-200% increases,” says psychology professor David Rettinger, who is director of academic integrity programs at the University of Mary Washington. “There are a lot more reports of student academic misconduct.”

This is not surprising. When students feel the odds are stacked against them, they do not respond with heartfelt engagement and honesty. “If students don’t think that it’s possible to learn something, or they think the situation is inherently unfair, they say, ‘Well, it’s not reasonable to expect me to do the work fairly because the situation is unfair,’” Rettinger says. Read more.

Rettinger Discusses Contract Cheating on CBS News

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science David Rettinger, who oversees Academic Integrity Programs at UMW, was interviewed by CBS News about the rise of contract cheating at colleges and universities, which has resulted in a billion dollar cheating industry based in Kenya, where American students are paying African students to do homework, write essays and in some cases, even complete degrees for them. Watch here.

Cheating American College Students Are Paying Kenyans to Complete Schoolwork That Is So Good Some Contractors Are Asked to ‘Dumb Down’ Their Work (Atlanta Black Star)

As online education grows, the business of cheating is booming (Wink News; Texas News Today)

As online education grows, the business of cheating is booming (CBS News)

Rettinger Discusses College Student Cheating on Brookings Podcast

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science David Rettinger, who is director of Academic Integrity Programs at UMW, participated in the Brookings Institute TechTank Podcast, discussing “How Universities Deal with Student Cheating?”

The COVID pandemic forced many schools and universities to remote education where students logged onto video calls for their classes. At one level, technology was helpful in giving students opportunities to continue learning despite being limited to their homes. Yet during the pandemic, there was a startling increase in the use of online monitoring software designed to prevent student cheating on exams. To discuss these issues, host Darrell West is joined by David Rettinger and Lindsey Barrett. David is a professor of psychological science and director of academic integrity programs at the University of Mary Washington. He also is the president emeritus of the International Center for Academic Integrity. Lindsey is the Fritz Family Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center and the author of a paper entitled “Rejecting Test Surveillance in Higher Education.” Listen here.

Colleges See Surge in Cheating, Plagiarism (WRC-DC; NBC Washington)

Fredericksburg Sister-City group helping partners in COVID-devastated Nepal (The Free Lance-Star)

Academic misconduct cases rise at GW, nationwide following year of remote learning (The GW Hatchet)

Rettinger Comments on Cheating in the News

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science David Rettinger, who is also director of Academic Integrity Programs at UMW, has recently appeared in several interviews on academic integrity and the uptick in cheating during remote learning, including a segment on NBC4 in Washington. Watch here.

He was also recently interviewed in the GW Hatchet, the student newspaper at George Washington University.

“You’re hearing a lot of students say things like ‘I really can’t learn in this environment,’ and some of that has to be because of the quick turnaround to online,” Rettinger said. “And then you add in the social psychology of it, so it’s a lot easier to be dishonest with someone who’s not right in front of you.” Read more.

David Rettinger: On His Honor

As a student, David Rettinger witnessed his peers cheating. Sometimes he even felt tempted to do it himself.

Instead, he dedicated his career to understanding the psychology behind academic misconduct.

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

Professor of Psychological Science and Director of Academic Integrity Programs David Rettinger

A professor of psychological science at University of Mary Washington since 2006, Rettinger also serves as director of Academic Integrity Programs and faculty advisor to UMW’s Honor Council.

“My mother was a market researcher, so I’ve always been interested in studying human behavior,” said Rettinger, who hails from New York City and earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a master’s and Ph.D. from University of Colorado.

When he first began teaching, Rettinger had a colleague who was researching academic integrity. Fascinated, he decided to apply his own methods to the field. “That led to some collaborative projects on cheating, and my interest has never faded.”

Rettinger’s passion for studying plagiarism led to a two-year stint as president of the International Center for Academic Integrity. He currently chairs ICAI’s Research and Assessment Committee, where his work on an international student survey comes at a critical juncture, given the rise in contract cheating websites and complex challenges caused by remote learning. The combination of stress, lack of support and looser academic structures have made cheating more tempting for students, he said.

Rather than placing all the blame on technology, Rettinger said it’s important to address the disconnect that often happens between faculty and students regarding assessments and expectations. At UMW, for example, the Honor Council has added more faculty advisors in the last decade to guide students in making good decisions moving forward, he said, resulting in fewer repeat offenders.

“We often meet students on their worst day of their college careers. It’s rewarding to know we can help them learn from their mistakes and grow.”

Q: What might people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I used to lead canoe trips for pre-teens and still keep in touch with many of them decades later.

Q: You’ve tweeted a lot of famous chefs. Have you ever gotten a response?
A: Tom Colicchio (from Top Chef) shared some advice with my daughter, who is learning to cook. I see cooking as a window into the cultures and lives of people around the world. I’ve also reached out to Michael Twitty, a food scholar and chef with local ties, whom I look to on social media to help expand my world, rather than stay in my own echo chamber.

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve cooked during quarantine?
A: I experimented with a Thai curry that was very memorable. I think it was the full-fat coconut milk.

Q: What do you like best about the UMW campus?
A: On a warm Friday afternoon, the buzz on Campus Walk is just magical.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: I have a hand-woven carpet I bought in Kathmandu on a study abroad trip to Nepal. It reminds me of fun times of the past and those to come.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: The summer camp where I went as a kid and worked during college has one I’ve adopted: “Help the other fellow.”

If You Can’t Stand the Cheat, Get Out of the Kitchen (Forbes)