I owe the title and the overriding theme of this blog to Salt-N-Pepa’s 1990 song about sex.  Now that I have your attention, what does this possibly have to do with Chegg?  Well, simply put, we need to talk about it.

Chegg, and other tutoring sites, are more the purview of students than faculty members.  I find that many faculty have only recently become acquainted with Chegg, CourseHero, StudySoup, TutorMe, and the like.  In fact, in several recent academic integrity hearings, I have had to give a brief introduction to these websites for the edification of the faculty hearing board members.  The student hearing board members have never needed an explanation.  Nevertheless, there are many issues regarding Chegg and other tutoring websites that are worthy of exploration.  Here are a few thoughts:

Faculty considerations:

  • Are my instructional materials being distributed?  Checking these sites regularly for “leaked information” has become normal in many institutions.  Protecting your materials with copyright is recommended, and Chegg will take them down if requested.
  • Has my exam been compromised?  Were the test questions and answers viewable during the time students were taking the exam?  You can file an investigation with Chegg (https://www.chegg.com/honorcode) in order to find student emails and computer IP addresses from students who accessed test questions and answers during certain time frames.
  • If students are seeking help from outside sources, what does that suggest about my own instructional methods?  Am I offering enough supplemental assistance, office hours, TA support, scaffolding of assignments, etc.?  As an administrator, we often hear from students who are frustrated with online courses, don’t feel comfortable reaching out for help, or are struggling somehow.  Many students feel these online resources are their only pathway to success.

Student considerations:

  • If I’m using Chegg, or another online resource, have I compromised my own integrity?  Getting help from a tutor about general concepts is fine, and Chegg does offer legitimate assistance through tutors.  However, getting an answer to a test question is an entirely different animal.  Many students find this distinction understandable only after they have faced an unfortunate academic integrity violation. 
  • If a test is open notes, why can’t I use Google?  When the whole world is computer-based, it just seems logical to use it whenever you need it, including in a test environment.  Students need to learn course expectations early on, and continue to hear messages that reinforce the use of institutional resources, rather than outside resources, which may or may not be reliable or legitimate.
  • If I post a test question, what does that have to do with copyright laws?  Many students do not realize that they are violating their professor’s rights if they share protected information without owner permission. 

There are many faculty members and academic integrity staff out there who consider Chegg.com (and other tutoring sites) the bane of their existence, but I encourage you to look at the broader context.  These sites and the pandemic will come and go, but it is up to us to explore these issues with students in a way that promotes personal integrity as key.  While continuing Chegg investigations, please talk about these critical issues.  We may be specialists in the disciplines of English, Chemical Engineering, and Accounting, but we are all responsible for ensuring students graduate with more than disciplinary knowledge.

[1] Salt-N-Pepa.  “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Blacks’ Magic.  Next Plateau Label, 1990.