Founded in 2005, Chegg went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2013 and has grown by 800% since then. The company is currently valued at $12 billion. While Chegg is based in Santa Clara, California, most of its operation is in India, where it has about 70,000 freelance experts with advanced degrees on math, science, technology and engineering.
Chegg experts are online 24/7 to provide step-by-step answers to questions posted by 6.6 million subscribers, who pay $14.95 per month for the privilege. Their database has 46 million textbook questions and exam problems that many students use to cheat. Business has surged since colleges began widespread use of virtual classes during the pandemic. There were 1.3 billion content inquiries from students in 2020. Chegg Study revenues were $521 million, an increase of 57% over 2019.
The author of a Forbes article interviewed 52 college students about their use of Chegg Study. “Students cheat for several reasons. To get better grades so they can get into an elite law or medical school. To pass required distribution courses (engineers forced to study Shakespeare and vice versa) that they don’t care about. To save time so they can play varsity football or work a job that pays for school and supports loved ones. And because they feel that everyone else does it, and they don’t want to be at a disadvantage if they don’t cheat, too. They don’t worry about getting caught. Even more troubling, they either don’t think they’re doing anything wrong or they don’t care.”
At the end of the 2020 spring term, North Carolina State University lecturer Tyler Johnson caught 200 students who had used Chegg to cheat on the final exam in his intro to statistics course. Of Chegg Study, Johnson says, “It’s just unconscionable. Chegg absolutely knows what students are doing.”
Throughout the pandemic, schools have spent millions on remote proctoring, a controversial practice in which colleges pay private companies like Honorlock and Examity to surveil students while they take tests. The systems lock students’ Web browsers and watch them through their laptop cameras. There is active debate about the stress this causes and the implications for students’ privacy.
Although most students Forbes interviewed say remote proctors make them too scared to cheat on exams, several note that they chegg their online exams regardless of whether or not they’re proctored. “As long as you’re not using the school’s Wi-Fi, you won’t get caught,” says a sophomore at a large state school.
In mid-January Chegg announced a new program called Honor Shield, which allows faculty to submit exam questions to the site in advance so they can be blocked during designated exam periods. It’s doubtful that Honor Shield will make students less likely to cheat. Many professors and instructors have already given up the fight.
As a society, we must continue to battle cheating and dishonesty. We need to teach students that everyone is NOT doing it and many of their peers disapprove of cheating. Principles matter much more than grades and test scores!
Here is a link to another article that discusses more of the educational side about Chegg and cheating: Inside Higher Ed