Cheating is happening in the classroom as well as online. In a survey conducted by OnlineCollege.org, 73% of students taking online classes admitted to cheating on a quiz, 56% of students in blended classes admitted to cheating, and 32% of students in traditional classes admitted to cheating. Research on cheating proliferates but much of the data originates from perceptions and focuses on a wide range of issues. The OnlineCollege.org study only reports 2% of online and 5% of traditional classroom students were caught cheating. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is not happening, but what can be done?
In an interesting article in the Chronical of Higher Education, “In a Fake Online Class with Students Paid to Cheat, could Professor Catch the Culprits?” two professors created a fake class to try and determine how sophisticated online cheating services were and to see if they could identify a cheater. The professors even offered an incentive; if they were unable to identify the cheater, the students would be eligible for a $350 raffle. This article highlights the need for faculty to be more aware of the issue of cheating and to take precautions when creating assessments. It is not possible to completely eliminate cheating in the online environment just as it is not possible to eliminate cheating in a traditional classroom but armed with the right information faculty can inform students about the consequences of cheating and discourage the practice.
Thoughts on how to combat cheating:
- Create a Test with randomized questions and answers. This can be done very easily in Blackboard
- Develop Test Pools so there are more questions than needed for a test, to ensure that each student receives a different version of the test
- Use Respondus LockDown Browser for quizzes and exams
- Don’t reveal test answers until all students in the course have completed the test
- Require students to use SafeAssign when submitting papers, which makes it more difficult for students to recycle work found online.
- Consider having students sign an honor code for your class; it won’t stop cheating but it holds them accountable for academic honesty.
- If students are caught cheating, there should be consequences and they need to be enforced. If a student hears that a classmate was caught and penalized for cheating, they may think twice before they do it themselves. They may also spread the word.
- Are the results important enough to warrant a proctored exam? Be mindful that proctored rooms or testing centers are not always the best answer because they make it more difficult for certain populations to complete their degree. Adult students with jobs struggle to fit a trip to a testing center into their work/life schedule and students in remote or low-income areas can’t afford travel costs.
- Remind students to manage their time so they aren’t tempted to cheat. Procrastination sometimes promotes desperate measures.
Many instructors are eliminating cheating temptations by assigning work that requires more independent thought and discussion to foster interaction. David Wangaard in his book, Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity, stresses that we shouldn’t be looking to police cheating more effectively but rather “highlight and promote a life of academic rigor, integrity, and values that promote learning” (U.S. News & World Report, 2011).
U.S. News & World Report. (2011, August). Promoting an Ethical School Culture. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2011/08/10/promoting-an-ethical-school-culture
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