The purpose of this guide is to give instructors functional tips for how they can better deter online cheating. Just like in the face to face classroom there is no silver bullet for ending cheating, but the steps outlined in this guide can help. Along with the functional tips, we've also included some pedagogical tips that might discourage your students from cheating. Navigate the guide by clicking on the topic to the left.
NOTE: Unless given in a lab environment, all online assessments should be considered open book. Because you cannot physically be present, students are always able to use the Internet, notes, or their book to complete the assessment, unless you otherwise tell them not to, in which case it is their honesty which determines it.
Issue #1: You are giving an assessment who's outcome has a monumental effect on the students grade. In this case, there is much more at stake for the student doing well, and much more of a chance they'd resort to cheating, even if they felt they had a decent grasp of the material.
Tip #1: Father Time
Father time is always working against us, but it can work to your advantage in an online assessment. By limiting the amount of time students have to answer questions, this can significantly lessen the time they'd have to cheat. Most single questions (T/F, a single matching item, a multiple choice, a single fill in the blank) can be answered within 30 seconds. Paragraph questions are at your discretion.
The "Duration" field on the "Edit Settings" page for an assessment is where you set this value. It is for an entire assessment, not each question.
Tip #2: Single File
One of the more common ways to cheat online is to simply print out the entire set of questions. This can easily be avoided by only showing one question at a time. Students can still print one question at a time, but does limit the functionality. (See tip #3 for disallowing printing) Allowing questions not to be revisited can also allow an extra measure of security.
The "Question delivery" field on the "Edit Settings" page for an assessment is where you choose this option. It is for an entire assessment, not each question.
Tip #3: Stop Printing
One common way to prevent cheating is to not allow students to print while taking a quiz. This is not foolproof, but non-technical users will easily be deterred. The stop printing process is outlined in the following tutorial.
Tip #4: Randomization
Vista allows you to create a "Question Set", which allows it to randomly select a question from a bank of pre-defined questions. This works in one of two ways:
1 - You create 20 questions for a 10 question quiz. Vista will randomly select each question from the larger bank of 20, thereby only using 10/20 questions, and randomizing the order in which they appear. Not only will no two students receive the same questions, but they will also be out of order.
2 - You create 10 questions for a 10 question quiz. Vista will randomly select each question. No two students will have the same order of questions.
To create a question set, use the "Add a Question Set" option when adding questions to a quiz. Hint: You can use more than one question set on a quiz.
Tip #5: Answer Mix-up
This tip applies to Multiple Choice questions only.
Vista can automatically mix-up the letters of the answers on a question. Since you've told it the correct answer when you created the question, it can still correctly grade the question.
Example: The right answer might be "A: 100", but Vista would randomly assign the correct text ("100") to A, B, C, D, etc. for different students so a cheater telling someone else the answer was "B" without including the actual text of the answer, would only have a slight chance of getting it right.
To set this feature, check the "Randomize answers" box in the question options section of a Multiple Choice question.
Using a combination of all of the tips can lead to a pretty secure assessment environment. It is up to you which of these tips to implement, but if you have any questions or need any help, please contact GeorgiaVIEW Support.
Another thought to consider might be the use of alternatives to the traditional testing framework, or through modifying other pedagogical factors. It is quite possible to obtain effective assessment results from other methods such as assignments, group work, case studies, and even guided discussions. For more information on effective assessment strategy, visit our Instruction Design guide to Assessments.