Facts & Prevalence
- Cheating among high school students has risen dramatically during the past 50 years (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Even above-average college-bound students are reporting cheating (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- 75-98% of college students report they cheated some time in their high school years (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- The profile of college students who are more likely to cheat is:
- Business and engineering majors
- Other majors that will work in the business environment
- Fraternity/sorority members
- Younger students
- Students with either low GPA or at the very top
- Male (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006)
- 40-70% of college students report that they cheated in some way within their college career (Aiken, 1991; Davis, Grover, Becker & McGregor, 1992).
- 66% of college students report using at least one fraudulent excuse to avoid or delay an academic responsibility (Davis, 2009).
- The jury regarding the prevalence of cheating being higher online than in face-to-face is still out. Multiple research papers have drawn various conclusions ranging from it is more prevalent, about the same, or even less prevalent (Harmon & Lambrinos, 2008).
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Reasons & Causes
- Peer Influence – Others are cheating or “but, I need your help” (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Competitiveness and pressure for good grades – High stakes assessment – Few assessment opportunities leads to high stakes testing adding to test anxiety and insecurity (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Instructional situations that are perceived as unfair, excessively demanding, or insufficient assessment time or time-on-task. When a course is unorganized or guilty of content dump instead of focused specific objectives with clear expectations, the students feel overwhelmed and stress due to time restraints (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Faculty who are perceived as uncaring or indifferent to their own teaching or to their students’ learning (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Instructor doesn’t seem to care – Easy of cheating – If assessments are not presented in a controlled environment with limited opportunity to cheat; the temptation is greater (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Low confidence – When students have insufficient formative assessment opportunities to build confidence there is a greater temptation to cheat due to fear of failure (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Diminishing sense of academic integrity and ethical values among students. Real world examples of cheaters receive little or no penalty, i.e., broadcast/Internet news (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Assumption of Internet resources, arts and literature, or news resources, especially by international students, as being community property or public domain (Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
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- Getting answers from another student(s) – group testing (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Notes or resources during testing, i.e., electronic version including calculators, phones, iPod, IMs, text messaging, etc. (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Claiming technology problems, lost submissions, etc. (Davis, 2009).
- Hire another person to take or write assessment (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Direct cut-paste method or minor paraphrasing of resources, the latter to avoid detection from plagiarism detention services (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- Submitted previous work for current assignments (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
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- Spend time at the beginning of the term discussing standards of academic scholarship and conduct (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Ko & Rossen, 2001; Simonson et al., 2006).
- What is the university policy on academic integrity?
- What are the consequences?
- What is cheating?
- When can I work with other students?
- When can I use other resources, i.e., book, web, notes, etc.?
- What is plagiarism?
- If I paraphrase and don’t include the reference is it still plagiarism?
- Policies can serve as a deterrent in cheating and plagiarism, but it is essential the policies are prevalent throughout the course, i.e., the syllabus, at assessment links, and as a question in each assessment. Additionally, the academic integrity policies should have clear consequences outlined, and the instructor must uphold these consequences to ensure their validity. Provide clear directions of what is and is not acceptable practices. Present your expectations, policy and consequences (both personally and academically whether caught or not) early in the course with confirmation of an academic integrity pledge prior to each assessment (Simonson et al., 2006). Regulation 4.001 - FAU’s Code of Academic Integrity
- Have a clear policy relating to acceptable and unacceptable excuses, and stick to it.
- Due to the unpredictability of technology and the multiple of challenges of other excuses, fraudulent or otherwise, consider a testing/writing grading structure that allows for a missed test/writing assignment. Two options would be a drop grade option for one assessment or a one-time only makeup opportunity at the end of the semester.
- If cheating or plagiarism occurs, respond swiftly with disciplinary measures and formal action (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Well managed assessment focused on reasonable amount of covered material with minimal reliance on rote memorization. Consider question rewrites that minimize their reliance on rote memorization (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Recognize stress and know your resources. Identify challenged students early and emphasize your willingness to assist and share other student services that are available (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006). Post information about the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) and outline their services.
- Work to develop a learning community, including both the students and instructor(s). Students tend to not cheat, if they feel they are part of a community (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Give students adequate time/practice on task (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Offer multiple opportunities for mastery/assessment (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Reduce stress through multiple and varied assessment opportunities, vary activities/assessments to support scaffolding and various learning styles (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Take advantage of all forms of assessment types. The more distributed a course grade calculation is based, the less likely cheating will occur. Additionally, the more variety of assessment types, the more likely the overall grade will be a true reflection of the students’ abilities (Simonson et al., 2006; Utah State University, 2010).
- Create a web site
- Review a web site
- Problem-based learning
- Case scenarios/studies
- Concept or mind maps
- Organize the course and each module with a clear pathway leading to success (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
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- Design an online exam protocol. It can read something like, “This is not an open book or open note exam (Simonson et al., 2006). This exam is to be taken during the allotted time period without the aid of books, notes, or other students. You have approximately _____ seconds per questions to complete this exam. The exam must be taken online from start to finish. Do not download the test to take it or distribute it to anyone. The statistics feature in Blackboard will monitor and report how you take this exam. By answering yes to this question, you are confirming you understand and you have completed the exam within these parameters.”
- Provide an opportunity to familiarize students with the testing procedure/technology in a non-graded assignment early in the semester so they can be confident in the process. Consider an orientation quiz that includes questions on the syllabus, policies, academic integrity, expectations, communication, etc.
- Consider self-testing or games to build students’ confidence levels. Use automated feedback and learning objects to increase confidence of mastery (Simonson et al., 2006), i.e., Respondus StudyMate.
- Take advantage of the assessment setting in the LMS, i.e., random block - not with random order (Utah State University, 2010), random order - not with random block, random indices, one-question-at-time, time limit (Utah State University, 2010) - this does not terminate the test, limited window of opportunity (Utah State University, 2010) - extended for large group, multiple attempts, force completion, control feedback by date & type (Simonson et al., 2006).
Blackboard’s assessment engine is a powerful set of tools that allow instructors to create and deploy tests to students. Blackboard provides a number of options that can restrict the ways in which students are able to take a test and reduce the incidence of cheating. The more restrictive the test, the less likely cheating occurs. However, like airport security, the more secure the test, the less convenient it is for those taking it.
To minimize the chance of test taking problems and give students the best environment for success, we recommend certain considerations when building and deploying tests in Blackboard.
- Do not set Force Completion. This causes a student to not be able to reenter the test if something happens to kick them out. This happens a lot when working on a web browser.
- Allow Back Tracking. Otherwise, students are encouraged to click the browser Back button, resulting in an error.
- Create Pools of Questions, and build your tests with random sets from the pools. However, do not also randomize the entire test. Double randomization is a bug in Blackboard.
- Give students a wide window in which to start the test. Discourage situations where the students all start the test at the same time.
- Give students a few extra minutes on the exam to account for unexpected load times.
- Break up large tests into multiple smaller tests. If you want to give a 2 hour test, break it up into four smaller 30 minute tests.
- Break Essay questions into their own tests. Essay questions force students to step away from the browser for extended time, increasing the risk of a browser timeout problem. Minimize the problem by having essays reside in their own test, or consider moving the essay portions to an Assignment.
Please consider these suggestions along with your own test-giving requirements as you create assessments in Blackboard (Parker, 2008).
- Do not release the feedback until after the testing period has expired.
- Do not release the questions in the feedback after testing; instead consider using the feedback tool to define the topic of the question missed.
- Use Respondus LockDown Browser to prevent searching and printing (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Set a time limit. Identify a responsible amount of time to answer each question and then computer the total time. A general guide is to allow 60-90 seconds per multiple choice, true/false, or matching fact-based question (Utah State University, 2010). Additionally time should be added for more advanced or calculation questions (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Proctoring (Utah State University, 2010)
- Proctored Testing Room (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Approved Proctor Option (Blackboard’s Proctor Password for assessment entry)
- Software Secure - Securexam Remote Proctor
The virtual proctor that provides what you need to:
- Delivers distance learning exams anytime, anywhere, while maintaining the same exam-room integrity as found in a proctored classroom.
- Controls computer settings and authentication, while watching and listening to the exam environment.
- Empower administrators to leverage the Blackboard LMS platform.
- Enhancing brand integrity and accreditation.
Pricing (October 2010) - User: $150 per unit, plus $30 per year licensing and institution: $15 per unit per year licensing/service.
Should only be used for high-stakes objective testing, and only if it will be used throughout a program that is highly dependent on such testing.
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- Provide an opportunity to familiarize students with the assignment procedure/technology in a non-graded assignment early in the semester so they can be confident in the process. Consider an introduction writing assignment to familiarize students with discussion and/or assignment tools, as well as introduce one another in the online environment (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- To guard against plagiarism use SafeAssignment, but utilize it as prevention instead of detection, i.e., allow students to discover what plagiarism is, let them see the report, and give them an opportunity to remedy their transgressions (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Require a non-traditional reference, i.e., personal interview, conference presentation, seminar, etc. (Simonson et al., 2006; Utah State University, 2010).
- Clarify the expectations of an assignment. A well-developed grading rubric can address most concerns. To assist in using grading rubrics visit RubiStar for rubric database and development. Consider peer-review using the grading rubric to develop critiquing skills for lifelong learning.
- Take advantage of Blackboard’s various communication tools, e.g., discussions, blogs, wikis, and journals to develop writing skills and styles, APA/MLA.
- Develop writing skills through low-stakes writing as a formative assessment tool with relaxed style guidelines to encourage active learning, exploration, and discovery (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Use timed writing assessments via essay questions in the LMS’s quiz tool (Simonson et al., 2006).
- Breakdown large writing assessments into components (Utah State University, 2010), i.e., topic selection; abstract (Utah State University, 2010); outline; annotated outline; bibliography; AAOCC - Authority, Accuracy, Objectivity, Coverage, Currency (Kapoun, July/August 1998; Simonson et al., 2006; Utah State University, 2010); analysis of resources; annotated bibliography; rough draft; final draft; reflection; etc.
- Consider concept mapping applications as a planning phrase for written assignments to verify their organization and minimize the ability to purchase papers.
- Vary writing assessments between terms and sections. Whenever possible personalize the assignment to minimize rote memorization and duplication of answers. Also, using this strategy in major papers will lead to student interest that minimizes motivation for certain types of plagiarism, e.g., cut/paste and paper purchase (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Select topics that force students to go beyond the facts (Simonson et al., 2006) but not overwhelming. Failure to do this can lead to plagiarism as an easy out.
- Provide a discussion, synchronous or asynchronous, to talk about writer’s block, challenges, etc. (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Require up-to-date references, no references older than _____ years, to limit paper purchases or recycling (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006; Utah State University, 2010).
- Instead of one large writing assignment, consider several shorter ones. Assignments of ≤ 6 pages minimize the risk of purchased papers since these are usually much longer.
- Provide a paper structure/outline. If papers are purchases the odds of them having everything required and no extra sections is minimal (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006, Utah State University, 2010).
- Set a good example as an instructor by including references and citations throughout your material.
- As part of an exam, include an essay question that is a summary of their submitted paper or of their writing process. If they did the paper, this will be an easy task (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006).
- Give students reflective/evaluative opportunities.
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Aiken, L. R. (1991)."Detecting, Understanding, and Controlling for Cheating on Tests." Research in Higher Education, 32(6), 725-736.
Bedford, W. & Gregg, J. (2009). “Implementing Technology to Prevent Online Cheating: A Case Study at a Small Southern Regional University.” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 5(2). Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for Teaching, 2nd ed. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
Chiesl, N. (2007). “Pragmatic Methods to Reduce Dishonesty in Web-based Courses.” The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 8(3), 203-211.
Davis, S. F., Grover, C. A., Becker, A. H., & McGregor, L. N. (1992). "Academic Dishonesty: Prevalence, Determinants, Techniques, and Punishments." Teaching of Psychology, 19(l), 16-20.
Harmon, O. & Lambrinos, J. (2008). Are Online Exams an Invitation to Cheat? The Journal of Economic Education. 39(2), 116-125.
Kapoun, J. (July/August 1998). “Teaching undergrads WEB evaluation: A guide for library instruction.”C&RL News, 522-523. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crlnews/1998/jul/teachingundergrads.cfm
Ko, S. & Rossen, S. (2001). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
McKeachie, W.J. & Svinicki, M. (2006). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teacher, 12th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Parker, G. (2008). “Instructor Tools: Better practices for Blackboard Test Deployment.” myUSF News. University of South Florida. http://myusfnews.it.usf.edu/wordpress/?p=118
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2006). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
Software Secure. 2010. The Securexam Remote Proctor System. http://www.remoteproctor.com/SERP/
Utah State University (2010). Tips, Tricks and How to Prevent Cheating in Distance Education. http://it.usu.edu/fact/files/uploads/cheatingdistanceeducation.pdf
Watson, G. & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the Digital Age: Do students cheat more in online courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13(1). http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring131/watson131.html
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