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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Professors combat cheating in online classes

With more educational options being offered online and through digital services, the opportunities for cheating have multiplied.

More than 75 percent of college students admit to cheating at least once in their post-secondary career, according to a U.S. News & World Report article. Cheating in online classes is “a new example of an old problem,” said Stephen Gilliland, executive director of the Center for Leadership Ethics at the Eller College of Management.

“I think a big part of cheating comes from the available opportunity,” Gilliland said. “If there is an opportunity there, students that may not otherwise be likely to cheat may take that opportunity if it’s easy enough. I think the online course environment creates more opportunity.”

Online course management, Gilliland said, is more challenging than “brick-and-mortar” class control when it comes to test taking.

“We give a lot of thought to how we can ensure a testing environment that limits available opportunities for cheating,” he said. The Eller College put one of its larger classes online this past summer and had to work through a number of technical solutions to limit cheating opportunities, Gilliland said.

One way to control cheating is to limit the time when students can take an exam, Gilliland said.

“Instead of letting people take the exam on a specific date, give them a time block to ensure that every student is taking the exam at the same time,” Gilliland said.

Another technological solution the college implemented was having a remote proctor. The college had a service watch the students take their exams through a web camera, and professors can look back at the footage if a student is reported cheating.

“I’ve long recommended that at least the final exam be in-person and proctored,” said Richard Serlin, an adjunct professor of personal finance in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.. “That still makes the course very flexible for students.”

For students unable to take these exams due to geographical limits, Serlin said that it wouldn’t be hard to use an exam proctoring network the way Educational Testing Service, the SAT test proctor, does.

“Even with the added expense, these courses would still be overall much cheaper than traditional ones,” Serlin added.

Taylor Simmons, a physiology major, agreed that making tougher exams would help limit cheating opportunities.

“You have access to the materials for the coursework,” she said. “But you could find out if someone has done the readings if the test questions are specific.”

Simmons said that she takes online classes because they free up time for extracurriculars.

In the end, Gilliland said that the simplest solution to reduce cheating in online classes is for professors to make tough exams.

“Assume that people are going to be using their notes and encourage them to do so,” he said. “Having a closed book exam for an online course makes no sense.”

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