Teaching & Learning

Cheating on Exams and Quizzes

Student cheating during exam

Cheating is a natural concern in many courses. The potential for cheating depends on the nature of student performance and performance assessment in the course. For many kinds of student performances, the potential for cheating in an online course is the same as an in-person course. What are ways you can think of that students cheat? Why do students cheat? How do you counter cheating? Some ways students cheat:

  • hiring proxies for papers or essays
  • looking up answers while taking the exam
  • purchasing papers from the Internet or other students
  • sharing exam questions and answers
  • Someone else takes the whole class for them
  • Backchannel sharing during tests (IM, texting)
  • Testing from same location (no proctor)
  • Technology sabotage/tampering

Some techniques you can build into your course so they may be less inclined to cheat include:

  • check photoID
  • practice before the real test
  • explicit directions on test materials
  • instructor remedial support prior to exam
  • make exams lower stakes
  • use multiple forms of assessment
  • have students submit personal writing sample for comparison
  • personalize answers - relate topic to student's personal experience
  • Set expecations if possible before enrollment, on syllabus, and during orientation
  • create an environment of ethical awareness (Link assignments and syllabus to include institutional policies/honor codes)
  • provide resources to reduced "need" to cheat
  • Be a good role model (follow-through on promises, appropriate use of others IP)
  • For high stake exams find proctoring services for students to use (The Consortium of College Testing Centers)

The following techniques may be used to help make cheating on multiple choice and true/false exams more difficult.

  • proctored exams
  • randomize question and answer order
  • use question pools to vary questions each student will see
  • one question at a time, no backtracking
  • set time limits

Be aware of sites like http://www.allmsu.com/home/ where students share answers to exam information.