7 Ways to Combat Cheating on Online Tests

With online learning being the new norm, cheating on online tests has become increasingly worrying for teachers and parents. Even without expensive virtual proctoring tools, however, there are many ways that instructors can use the inherent features within school’s Learning Management System (LMS) to combat cheating during online examinations. Here are a few ideas to decrease cheating on online tests.

1. Create questions that require higher order thinking. Instead of having students respond to questions that can be answered by a simple web search or even by finding the answers in their textbooks, create questions about the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class topics. Cheating becomes much harder with questions that require students to analyze what they know in order to demonstrate their understanding of course content.

2. Use varied question types. Refrain from having an exam with all multiple choice or all true and false questions, and include open-ended questions. Cheating on online tests becomes much more obvious with open-ended questions, as students cannot just copy verbatim another student’s answer without raising suspicion.

3. Creatively remind students of academic integrity policies. In addition to having students sign an academic integrity contract, teachers can also create and post a video explaining the guidelines for online exams, as well as review the school’s academic integrity policy and consequences. This can emphasize the consequences of cheating on online tests better than a contract alone.

4. Show only one question at a time, and don’t allow backtracking. This will prevent students from quickly looking over all of the test questions and having multiple tabs open to research answers. Require students to focus solely on one question at a time, answer it with a final answer, and then move to the next question. Prohibiting backtracking will stop students from using extra time at the end of the test to try to locate the correct answer, instead forcing them to answer the question to the best of their learned knowledge.

5. Change the test question sequence. Adjust LMS settings so that the order of test questions will change for each exam, along with the order of answer choices for each test question. Students are tech savvy and may attempt to employ screen sharing technologies in an effort to take the exam at the same time as their classmates and share answers, and this technique makes that much more difficult. Along these lines, you could also have several different versions of the same test so it will be less likely for them to have all of the same questions.

6. Plan for technical issues. Offer a practice exam with a few questions so students can become familiar with the online testing features. Then, engage the test settings to automatically end the exam when the student exits or if the time runs out. This way, if a student says their computer crashed, the instructor can go into the exam and see the questions they already answered, and they can begin where they stopped and continue with the amount of time they had remaining.

7. Protect test question answers. If students request to review their exam, they should only be shown the questions they answered incorrectly. This will limit students from being able to copy and download all of the exam questions for other students.

The ways in which instructors have to go about designing online assessments may be different than they would be in the traditional classroom, but instructors can use some of the ideas above to better safeguard against cheating on online tests.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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