Technological development has not only fostered the adoption of e-learning, known for its flexibility and convenience, but also provided students with new cheating ideas and techniques. In this article, we will define the reasons why students start behaving dishonestly and offer useful advice that will help you prevent cheating on online exams in your digital classroom.
Why Is Cheating on Online Tests a Big Concern?
Although many students believe that cheating is harmless, it is detrimental to the learning process and has not only instant but also delayed effects. Let’s take a look at the most serious of them.
- Prevents students from gaining knowledge. Students who opt for the easy way don’t devote the necessary time and attention to learning, and thus don’t receive knowledge that could be crucial for their personal and professional life.
- Leads to unfairness. Dishonesty during online tests results in inaccurate student assessments. Moreover, it undermines the competitiveness of the learning environment and may become a cause for mistrust and unfriendliness among classmates.
- Destroys reputation. Academic misconduct may lead to decreased grades, suspensions, expulsion, and other severe consequences, thus leaving a stain not only on the students’ academic reputation but also on their future careers.
- Content leakage implies that the content of the tests got into the hands of third parties. This is a grave problem for educational institutions which destroys the integrity of an examination and leads to the unfairness of the learning process.
Why Do Students Cheat During Online Tests?
There is a great variety of reasons why students decide to cheat on online assessments, and educators need to be aware of them to find out the most effective ways to combat dishonesty. Let’s outline the most important of them.
Lack of EngagementThe level of engagement has a direct correlation to the level of academic misconduct. According to psychologists, students who lack interest and motivation in a particular subject are more likely to cheat. Moreover, once having acted dishonestly, they often stop considering this behavior immoral. Conversely, students who believe that the knowledge gained from a particular course will be useful in their future life attend classes with more excitement and maintain the integrity of online exams to show better academic results achieved by their effort.
PressurePressure to succeed is one of the main reasons for the growing number of cheating cases. Modern society makes students realize that they have to attain high grades at school, then enter prestigious colleges, and graduate with honors to get more chances to find a good job and become successful. As a result, academic performance, in their opinion, becomes more important than real knowledge and skills.
Lack of PreparationSome test-takers cheat on online exams because they didn’t study enough during the course and didn’t prepare well for the assessment. The reasons for such behavior could vary from laziness and lack of involvement in the learning process to lack of time due to a part-time job and psychological problems.
Cheating Is ContagiousCheating can spread fast even in educational institutions with robust honor codes. Understanding that some students cheat makes other examinees more prone to undesirable activities. They don’t want to lose a competitive advantage by relying only on their knowledge.
How to Stop Cheating on Online Tests
It’s not an easy task to eliminate cheating, especially in the digital environment. Nowadays, fast technological development helps students to come up with more ways to compromise academic integrity. Here we have gathered the 14 most efficient techniques to deter cheating so you can choose the ones that will work best in your fight with dishonesty.
1. Dive Deeper Into Your SubjectWell-structured and up-to-date online courses with a sufficient amount of information for preparation provide students with extra motivation to stay involved and work with integrity. As a result, the level of cheating is likely to decline. Thus, educators are recommended to continuously review their teaching strategies to make their courses more interesting and engaging.
2. Add Different Types of QuestionsIt’s better to create online tests with various structure, adding not only closed-end questions, such as true/false or multiple-choice, but also questions that require short or long answers. Moreover, educators should also pay attention to the formation of the question, giving preference to the ones that will make students think critically and share their original ideas.
3. Educate Your Students About Academic IntegrityContinuously discuss cheating with your students, warning them about the consequences of this behavior. It’s also reasonable to go over the integrity rules just before an online examination. It could encourage students who were not sure about cheating to act honestly.
4. Use an Academic Integrity ContractAfter going over the integrity rules before an examination, students can be asked to sign a special electronic contract that includes information about the integrity policy, types of academic dishonesty, content protection rules, and consequences if a test-taker is caught cheating. There are various ways to include this feature in your online exam; for example, you can add it within a Learning Management System (LMS). However, note that it’s important that students sign this document before the beginning of a test.
5. Reduce Student AnxietyAnxiety is among the most common reasons pushing students to misconduct. In the e-learning environment, many students feel anxious since they are worried about the technological part of an assessment. To reduce this type of stress, educators can conduct multiple practice tests, prepare a clear explanation guide, etc.
6. Determine the Time Frames of an ExamIt’s important to schedule an online exam at approximately the same time for all participants. Nowadays, when the geography of test-takers is almost unlimited, don’t forget to take into account different time zones. In this case, to avoid sharing examination content, it’s possible to create slightly different versions of the same test. Moreover, when it comes to timing, it’s important to find a balance. Make sure examinees don’t have too much or too little time to complete the assessment, so cheaters won’t have an opportunity to search for answers on the internet, while honest students will be able to demonstrate all their knowledge.
7. Restrict BacktrackingAnother strategy to stop students from cheating is to prohibit backtracking. This means that test-takers are not allowed to return to a previous exam question, and thus need to give a final answer directly. This technique helps students to concentrate and use all their knowledge and skills to solve the task instead of googling the answers or looking for them in the course materials.
8. Design a User-Friendly TestMake sure your online test has an intuitive design and provides examinees with clear guidelines. It would be a good idea to describe to your students the structure of an exam and the types of questions in advance. Thus, they will spend less time on technical details and will feel less anxious and more concentrated on the content of the test.
9. Use Practice TestsAnother technique to reduce stress during an examination and prevent students from behaving unethically is to offer them a chance to get familiar with the test structure. Before commencing a true assessment, examinees can be provided with a sample test of the same structure but with questions not related to the examination topic.
10. Use Various Types of AssessmentTo reduce cheating during both online and “pen and paper” tests, educators should conduct different types of assessments regularly. Some of them include diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments. Diagnostic testing is used to find out the students’ level of knowledge and is aimed at engaging them more in the learning process. A formative test serves to keep track of students’ progress, while a summative assessment evaluates the knowledge of test-takers gained throughout the whole course.
11. Implement Advanced Proctoring SolutionsModern technologies have introduced new solutions to deal with academic cheating. Numerous proctoring software offers educators a great variety of features that they can include in their LMS to improve the integrity of online examinations. While class-based exams allow only for live proctoring, online assessments can be monitored in different ways. The most common types of remote proctoring involve:
- live remote proctoring
- recorded proctoring
- AI proctoring
12. Opt for Exam Software with Noise DetectionEnsure your online proctoring solution can detect suspicious noises and activities in the room. Such systems usually make use of an examinee’s microphone to make sure there is no one else in the room or that a test-taker is not trying to use his phone or other gadgets to look for the answers.
13. Use a Multi-Factor Authentication ProcessOne of the common forms of cheating during online exams is impersonation, meaning that students ask another person to take an exam on their behalf. To eliminate this form of dishonesty it’s advised to implement two- or three-factor authentication. For example, it can involve ID verification through a scan or photo, face recognition by comparing the ID and data from the webcam, and a one-time password sent to the previously registered test-taker’s phone.
14. Establish a Friendly Academic EnvironmentFriendly and trustful relationships with your students are an essential factor to eliminate cheating. Educators should not only be considered evaluators of academic progress but also people who can share their knowledge and experience. Test-takers who feel respect rather than fear towards their professors are less likely to cheat since they usually want to live up to their expectations.
Tips for Preventing Cheating on Tests
Let’s briefly summarize the most important tips to prevent cheating on online examinations.
- Design a user-friendly test with various types of both closed- and open-ended questions.
- Set time frames and limit the duration of an exam.
- Provide your students with an opportunity to practice taking an online test of a similar structure.
- Prepare clear test instructions and educate your students about the technical details of the assessment in advance.
- Choose an advanced online proctoring solution that complies best with your educational objectives.
- Ensure robust authentication and verification processes.
- Educate your students about the importance of academic integrity and build trustful relationships with them.
Cheating has remained a serious problem with the introduction and widespread adoption of e-learning. Modern technologies have provided students with new easier ways to act unethically during online assessments. However, many other cutting-edge solutions have been developed to combat academic dishonesty, bringing educators the hope to protect the integrity of their courses.
To eliminate cheating in the digital environment, it’s crucial to remember that the main reasons that push test-takers to misconduct are pressure to succeed, academic overload, and anxiety. Thus, apart from advanced proctoring solutions, it’s crucial to communicate with your students, build trustful relationships with them, and think of more efficient ways to reduce their stress during online exams.