How to Prevent Cheating in an Online Course


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  • There will always be someone trying to cheat the system. To prevent one from plagiarizing requires a personal commitment from students. I remember when I was a kid and I told a lie – My mother forced me to compose a paper about why lying was wrong. Since that day, I’ve been as honest as they come. But I don’t remember an instructor or mentor ever explaining the necessity of being honest. So, I was lucky; many students aren’t. They are looking for the easy road but don’t recognize the detrimental impact of being dishonest.
  • Go to web and type “Term Paper” into Google. Searching vs. Researching – looking for obscure sources Students focus on the end result of research vs. the skills acquired (Context vs. Content) Pressure for scholarships, jobs, etc. The Internet makes it hard to determine which material is for common use or original, copyrighted work Confusion over which notes are their own ides or those of other sources Poor Planning: Schedule stages of progress: Outlines, Bibliographies, Thesis Statements, Drafts Citation Confusion: Loss of references (good note taking) Expectations: Analyze and Discuss – What does this mean. It goes beyond just reporting.
  • Give examples which are specific for the online environment National certification or future classes Link to academic handbook and point out consequences, including a failing grade or expulsion Discuss the value of life-long learning and working to full potential Other places where honesty are important
  • Using tools such as the WhoDunit Agent and Instructor reports to track logged activity and message board postings. Faculty must identify the “Not my Fault” limit beyond which penalties occur
  • Unclear content will lead students to circumvent guidelines because they may feel they have no other choice Include Learning objectives… Use self check such as Try This or ask a question that reinforces a concept with a click here for the correct answer Identify what, if any is required for the course; what may be on exams, etc.
  • Offer bonus points for message a certain number of message board posts Tell Students their activity in the course can and will be tracked. Look for changes in Behavior.
  • Quizzes: Set up a bank of questions so each student gets a unique set of questions Proctor exams using ANGEL’s secure browser to prevent the use of the Internet or other desktop applications to answer questions. Set time limits Write questions that cannot be answered easily Limit availability Interviews: Record Interviews and Post Audio Files in ANGEL for review
  • Do a Google search on the root question to see what comes up. Sample Honor Statement: Can be simple or Complex “I have worked on my own and have not printed the test.” “I have completed this exam on my own. I did not ask classmates or anyone else for assistance or work with them. I did not consult, compare answers or ask advice from others. This is entirely my own work.” Track IP addresses (Reference Nancy Edwards)
  • Other CMS tied in with
  • Process of Writing: Observe and coach the process. Require a thesis statement, an initial bibliography, an outline, notes, a first draft etc Choose Any Topics: Tie the topic to the goals of the course. Class Material: From class lectures, presentations, discussions etc in their graded assignments. This makes finding "matching" papers more difficult. Use Cheat Papers as Examples: Provide a grade for these and use as reference material. Students will be hesitant to use a service you know about.
  • Annotated Bibliography: As part of the process of writing the assignment. These are difficult to plagiarize Require an Abstract: Of the paper where appropriate. Writing an accurate synopsis of a plagiarized paper is difficult. Raw Materials: For example, copies of the cited works. Get to Know your Students: Require a writing sample during the first week of class. Have the students do this in their "best written style" and make it personalized and customized to them individually. Keep this on record for comparison purposes.
  • Make Assignments Difficult: This makes it more difficult to get casual, though ongoing, help during the semester. Assessments: Make getting help logistically difficult. Use Alternate means of assessment Portfolios and multiple measures of mastery Suspect Plagiarism Frequently this is enough to uncover or deter plagiarism.
  • A student who claimed she had taken an exam and didn’t get credit for it.  The extensive tracking capabilities allowed us to see where she had been in the course throughout the time period when the exam was open ..and that she definitely did not take the exam. We could also see that other students were able to take the same exam during the same time period (so she couldn’t claim that the site was down or not functioning properly). Since then, we were also able to use it to find students cheating during an exam.  We saw that several students were “wandering” during the exam, looking at posted Instructor Notes, etc.  The faculty was able to go to each one and tell them exactly what we saw in their tracking.. and ALL of them (I think there were 4) admitted what they had done…and had their grades substantially reduced.
  • We do not have any measurements of how cheating has diminished but would like to discuss what we are doing and perhaps learn how others are handling the issue... We installed 6.2 and for most tests turn on the Medium security and scramble the questions and choices....we also expressly state to the students that before they enter a quiz, they must close out of all windows on their computer and sign out of MSN....we can tell if the student has opened a window on their computer and left it open as the test is autosubmitted because the logged activity report records the quiz submitting properly and then when the close the other window they opened during the test, the system records that as submitting the quiz as well, but states that it was submitted 2 submissions show for the quiz.......we also try to do comparisons of times begun and submitted and then look at those student's answers if they are similar.
  • How to Prevent Cheating in an Online Course

    1. 1. How to Reduce Cheating in Online Courses Yeshiva University Evan Silberman, ANGEL Coordinator Leonard Presby, Professor
    2. 3. What is Plagiarism: <ul><li>According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to &quot;plagiarize&quot; means </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to use (another's production) without crediting the source </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to commit literary theft </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward. ( </li></ul>
    3. 4. Bottom Line: <ul><li>&quot;Ethics, copyright laws, and courtesy to readers require authors to identify the sources of direct quotations and of any facts or opinions not generally known or easily checked.“ </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>-- Chicago Manual of Style , 15th edition (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press), p. 594 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 5. Cheating: An Age Old Problem <ul><li>Davis et al., (1992) reported that between 40% and 60% of their student respondents said they cheated on at least 1 examination </li></ul><ul><li>95% of those who cheated said they were never caught (Kleiner and Lord 1999) </li></ul>
    5. 6. Why Cheat? <ul><li>It’s easy </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Peer pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Someone else said it better </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural differences </li></ul><ul><li>Making the Grade </li></ul><ul><li>Sloppiness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note taking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor planning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Citation confusion </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear expectations </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Adopted from </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 7. Sources for Plagiarized Papers <ul><li>Students can typically go to online paper “mills”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students can have someone else submit work for them in an online course </li></ul>
    7. 8. Attitudes Towards Cheating <ul><li>In a study on dishonesty, both students and faculty believe it is easier to cheat in a distance learning class . </li></ul><ul><li>75% of college students admitted cheating, and 90% of college students didn't believe cheaters would be caught. ( </li></ul>
    8. 9. Attitudes Towards Cheating <ul><li>51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong. ( </li></ul><ul><li>As the number of distance learning classes increases so will academic dishonesty (Kennedy, 2000). </li></ul>
    9. 10. $64,000 Dollar Question: <ul><li>How can distance learning be administered to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify, authenticate, and monitor learners; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimize cheating; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain academic integrity </li></ul></ul>
    10. 11. Use Multiple Layers <ul><li>Course Management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Syllabus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course presentation and design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructor/Student relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring student activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoting good student-instructor communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Following Slides Adapted from Barbara Christe (2003) </li></ul></ul>
    11. 12. Syllabus Design <ul><li>Define academically inappropriate behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the future purpose to the course </li></ul><ul><li>Identify institutional policies for dishonest behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Identify reasons not to be dishonest </li></ul>
    12. 13. Syllabus Design <ul><li>Establish Deadlines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set milestones throughout the course to promote both your assessment of the student and student self-assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Postpone assignments and grade viewing until appropriate time </li></ul></ul>
    13. 14. Syllabus Design (Con’t) <ul><li>Explain how you can track progress in a course </li></ul><ul><li>Explain what will happen for hypothesized technological problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Login Failure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ISP or System Crash </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course Unavailability </li></ul></ul>
    14. 15. Content Presentation <ul><li>Present information clearly </li></ul><ul><li>Tell students what is important and what is available </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be clear about required supplemental resources (books and links) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 16. Instructor/Student Relationship <ul><li>Activities that promote good communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Message boards and Chat rooms record conversation for future reference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team assignments/Group work (Fight Student Isolation!) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speak with students over the phone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedule phone meetings twice/semester </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Call randomly to check on student’s progress and discuss an assignment further </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Carefully monitor student activity or lack thereof </li></ul>
    16. 17. Assessment: Tools <ul><li>Vary the tool used: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ANGEL Quizzes and Exams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews with experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The survey or transcripts of the interview are included as an appendix. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research papers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Position statements </li></ul></ul>
    17. 18. Assessment: Process <ul><li>Write questions well </li></ul><ul><li>Use Honor Statements </li></ul><ul><li>Examine what time students accessed an exam and how long they needed to complete the exam </li></ul><ul><li>Compare student answers </li></ul><ul><li>Guard access to the exam </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students with editing rights may have access to “Hidden” content </li></ul></ul>
    18. 19. Assessments – Monitoring Tools <ul><li>Create a “fake” Student </li></ul><ul><li>Web Cams </li></ul><ul><li>Desktop sharing applications </li></ul><ul><li>Reports and Statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-plagiarism websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    19. 20. Measuring Success <ul><li>Grade/Spread Variation </li></ul><ul><li>Performance in other classes that use this information </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback from employers who rely on students to understand material </li></ul><ul><li>Performance on national certification exams </li></ul>
    20. 21. Repeat <ul><li>Vary assessment tools, paper topics, and class discussion points </li></ul><ul><li>Add additional questions to the quiz bank </li></ul><ul><li>Change experts who come visit the class </li></ul>
    21. 22. More Tips: <ul><li>Focus on the process of writing </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid &quot;choose any topic&quot; papers </li></ul><ul><li>Require students to use material </li></ul><ul><li>Use papers on &quot;cheat sites&quot; as examples. </li></ul><ul><li>All tips adapted from: http:// </li></ul>
    22. 23. And More Tips: <ul><li>Require an annotated bibliography </li></ul><ul><li>Require an abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Require a description of the research process with the final draft </li></ul><ul><li>Require &quot;raw materials&quot; of the research process </li></ul><ul><li>Get to know your students </li></ul>
    23. 24. And Even More Tips: <ul><li>Make assignments relatively difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent and random assessments </li></ul><ul><li>Use alternate means of assessment </li></ul><ul><li>If you suspect plagiarism, look carefully at the paper and gently confront the student with your concerns </li></ul>
    24. 25. Anecdotal Case Studies: Florida Gulf Coast University <ul><li>…Being able to track and see when students took tests coupled with IP addresses helped us recognize some questionable quiz results… </li></ul><ul><li>Nancy Edwards Director, Faculty and Course Development </li></ul>
    25. 26. Anecdotal Case Studies: <ul><li>ANGEL’s Medium Security Setting for Quizzes (Disable right click, print, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Scramble exam questions </li></ul><ul><li>Expressly state all windows must be closed </li></ul><ul><li>Use Auto Submit </li></ul>
    26. 27. Resources <ul><li>Ways to handle technology enhanced cheating: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Combating Cyber Cheating: A resource for teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Preventing Plagarism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    27. 28. Q & A <ul><li>Question/Comments anyone? </li></ul>
    28. 29. Thank You <ul><li>Evan Silberman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] , 212-960-0146 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leonard Presby </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>
    29. 30. Works Cited: <ul><li>“ Cheating: 22 Ways to Handle Technology Enhanced Cheating.” Accessed May 2005. <> </li></ul><ul><li>Christe, Barbara (2003) “Designing Online Courses to Discourage Dishonesty” Educause Quarterly, (November 4, 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Cyberplagiarism: New Opportunities For Cheating and New Challenges For Teaching”. 2003. Penn State Harrisburg; Penn State Schuylkill. <> </li></ul>
    30. 31. More Works Cited: <ul><li>Gibleman, Margaret, Sheldon R. Gelman. “Cheating Via The World Wide Web: Implications and Imperatives for Creative Teaching.” 2004. Yeshiva University. </li></ul><ul><li>Presby, Leonard. “Can Cheating be Eliminated or Reduced in Online Courses?”. 2004. Yeshiva University. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Research Resources”. Accessed May 2005. iParadigms, LLC. <> </li></ul>