So I had my phone on me while taking my final and one of the TAs asked if I did which I admitted to having it; he then just asked me to place it on the desk next to me and leave it there for the rest of the test, which I obliged. Then, once I turned in my final, the TA set my test aside from the rest of the other tests. After looking at the test solutions that were given after turning the test in, I can confirm that I only got one right.

Do you think that I will be referred to the dean of my school for allegedly cheating as I got caught with having my phone on me during a test (which is obviously prohibited), yet if you look at my test, I still had failed? Like would my professor feel the need to after seeing that I only got one right?

  • I was sitting in a way where my phone lay on the seat within the gap between my legs, which is how I always sit. With this I do tend to look down and start to tap the seat through my thigh gap (hopefully it's not to hard to visualize) which may look suspicious. The TA caught me around the last 45 minutes of a 3 hour period. And with my phone resting on the other desk, I still sat the way I did and still did the whole tapping thing, to which I knew he saw because he was within my peripheral sight - probably checking up on me specifically. (if this help paint the scenario better)
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    A stickler for the rules is certainly justified in reporting the case, but in this case it also seems reasonable to give the benefit of the doubt that you did not cheat (perhaps with the warning of more serious consequences next time). We cannot say – the only person who can is your professor, so go ask him / her. – Moriarty Dec 12 '15 at 14:45
  • Please follow these steps to merge your accounts so that you'll be able to edit the post and comment on the post and its answers. – ff524 Dec 13 '15 at 0:00

Updated after clarification from OP

Your performance on the test will be irrelevant. If you failed the test while cheating, it would just suggest you didn't do a very good job of cheating, but that hardly negates the action.

From the way you relate what happened, your actions are indistinguishable from someone cheating. In fact, I'm very skeptical of your story... you were in an exam and had your phone hidden on your seat between your legs and you just happened to be looking down and tapping. This is very odd behavior in an exam since you must realize it is indistinguishable from cheating. Also, it makes the idea that you forgot you had your phone implausible since you had it out and on the seat right where you were looking.

I would certainly expect at least a zero on the exam, and depending on the professor/TA a report to the dean. You must realize how implausible your story sounds, right? Your typical exam taking behavior is to take your phone out, hide it on your seat between your legs and look down and tap on it? No professor is going to buy this story.

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The most reasonable assumption is that you were trying to cheat, but still failed (or got caught before you had a chance for the cheating to do you any good). And yes, you should be reported, though some TAs may not feel it is worth the hassle.

The reason you should be reported is, if you have a history of doing this but it has never gone on record, then when you get caught a second time (possibly in a situation where it does make a difference), it could be treated as a first offence when it is, in reality, anything but.

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    This seems somewhat harsh. I wonder what percentage of students forget to take their phone out of their pocket during exams. I'm sure I have done it on occassion... of course my flip phone isn't likely to be much use. – Bamboo Dec 12 '15 at 15:06
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    @Rori It was noticed by the TA in the middle of the exam, so I'm going to go out on a limb and assume there was some attempt to look at it or something else that caught the TAs attention. A flip phone sitting forgotten in your pocket will probably not catch anyones attention. I do agree that if the TA had no reason to be suspicious about the phone, they can ignore it, but the fact that the student failed the test is not a good reason to let it go unreported. – Morgan Rodgers Dec 12 '15 at 15:09
  • Yes, I agree it seems there is more to this than the OP states (as noted in my answer). However, under the scenario as presented, a student just having a phone in their pocket this would seem too harsh to me. Possibly the phone was in a back pocket and sticking out so as to make it visible. – Bamboo Dec 12 '15 at 15:12
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    Ok, clarification from the OP certainly changes the scenario. This is not too harsh at all with the additional details. – Bamboo Dec 12 '15 at 15:44

It's been a long time since I've seen exam rules that did not include a prohibition against use of electronic devices. So, you were presumably in contravention of the exam rules whether your phone contained answers or not.

If electronic devices were prohibited, you should be referred for violating the rules. Even if there was no rule, you could be referred for cheating because of your suspicious actions.

Whether you will be depends on the TA's tolerance for hassle. Since the TA took note of your actions and took action, it would be a good guess that you will be. And you will deserve it whether you were cheating or not because you gave the appearance of cheating.

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I don't think it's possible to say whether you will be reported to the dean. There also seems to be doubt as to the truth of your intentions with the phone. I don't think it's possible to know your intentions from what you posted.

But, lesson learned. Next time, turn off your phone, put it in your bag, and keep it out of sight. TAs and professors aren't OK with the constant intrusion of phones into the learning environment...especially during tests.

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