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WYP – S1:E1 – Cheating in Distance Learning Courses

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WYP – S1:E1 – Cheating in Distance Learning Courses


[music] Hi. My name is Adam, and I’m Jason. Adam: Welcome to What’s Your Problem – where we discuss current issues in Distance Learning and Education. Jason: Teaching is a difficult job, and teaching in Distance Learning presents its own, unique set of challenges. Adam: That’s right. The purpose of this show is to discuss the problems that come along with teaching in Distance Learning and provide some solutions to improve the Distance Learning experience for you and your students. Jason: Kaylynn’s here to introduce a problem that many of our viewers have asked us about. Kaylynn? Kaylynn: Today we’re going to discuss cheating in Distance Learning courses. I don’t know when the first teacher gave the first group of students the first assessment, but I can guarantee you – somebody cheated on it. That’s how old this problem is. And as teaching and students and classrooms and technology have evolved, cheating has remained a prevalent problem; especially today, there’s a concern around distance learning courses that cheating is more prevalent. In fact there are several studies out there that indicate that it’s really still about the same. It’s about 32-33 percent of students who will admit to cheating in either modality – although the ways in which students cheat do vary. Because of that, there are a lot of tools today available for us to catch students cheating in distance learning courses, but what we want to focus on today is three ways that we can prevent it from happening in the first place. So, Jason and Adam, what solutions exist for this problem? Jason: One solution is including more authentic assessments in your course. Authentic assessments (sometimes referred to as performance assessments) are assessments that are not exams. Examples include discussions, projects, presentations, journals, etc. These types of assessments have become very popular as a way to curb student tendency to cheat. They are easier than tests to build or set up and they require higher level thinking from students to demonstrate success, thus making it more difficult to cheat. The drawback is that they take more time to grade. If traditional tests are desired, instructors can consider test questions that are more subjective and require more thinking to answer than a quick look-up that can be done on a mobile device or separate browser tab. Adam: And speaking of tests, a second solution is to be deliberate in your test design when you are using test. Using pools that have a variety of questions and a variety of question types so that students are getting different questions than their classmates is one way. Also, even though the nice thing about tests that there are auto-graded, trying to use one or two maybe short responses, short essay questions in there so that students can’t use the same answer as everyone else in the class – that’s one thing that might deter them from stealing their answers from somewhere else. You may also want to consider making your quizzes and tests lower stakes then your more authentic, written assessments. That way, even if a student does decided to cheat on a quiz, it’s not going to significantly impact or improve their grade. It’s not going to be enough to push them over the top or even to get them to pass your class. That way, at the end, you know that if they have enough points to pass the class it’s because they did the work. And there are settings you can put in on tests: time limits, number of attempts, different feedback settings, plagiarism checkers like SafeAssign, that you can use to make sure that students are taking the test in the manner you want them to. But the key is, overall for this one, is just to maintain a balance. You want to make sure that the tests and quizzes are still challenging, but not so challenging and locked down that the student feels like they need to have their book out or they need to have their friend in the room, otherwise, it’s going to be impossible. Jason: Like the previous two solutions, this one is all about student perception. Connecting with students and making them want to do well for you is something all instructors strive for. Feeling like there is a person on the other side of the screen can be a game changer because it is human nature to not want to disappoint people. Many students view cheating as a shortcut, but in reality the shortcut is not cheating. Avoiding the temptation to cheat removes many long term roadblocks that that can come along later in life. True shortcuts are never easy. Which reminds me of a quote from the great masterwork of cinema, Road Trip, wherein Rubin, played by the incomparable Paulo Costanzo, says, “it’s supposed to be a challenge, that’s why they call it a shortcut. If it was easy, it would just be the way.” It may be easy to cheat, but ironically, the true “shortcut” in education is not cheating and achieving goals in life faster as a result. Students who cheat only hurt themselves, placing multiple roadblocks in their paths. With the proper support, students will be more apt to take the challenging, but more rewarding route and come out of school prepared to move forward rather than take the easy risk of cheating and setting themselves up for prolonged failure. Kaylynn: So as a quick recap – cheating online is a problem; not necessarily a bigger problem than it is in face-to-face classes, but still a problem. So, if you’re looking for ways to prevent
that, the three solutions that we provided you today are to create authentic assessments, to be deliberate when you’re creating tests and how those tests are managed, and to form relationships with your students so that they feel encouraged and they feel that they can succeed in your class by just doing the work, without cheating. Adam: Thanks, Kaylynn. Hopefully, those of you watching are able to incorporate some of the solutions we gave you today to help prevent cheating in your Distance Learning courses. Jason: Feel free to email us any problems or questions you have for future episodes. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next time. [music]

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2 thoughts on “WYP – S1:E1 – Cheating in Distance Learning Courses”

  1. Brad Stetson says:

    Fantastic ideas! Thanks for sharing. I definitely use the strategy of some short answer questions on quizzes/tests. I want to share that the idea of short answer questions on a quiz/test are actually not as time consuming to grade as one might think. The "View Questions" view in Blackboard makes it so you can grade everyone's Question #3 together, allowing for some common feedback to be copy/pasted easily.

    I've also utilized pools of short answer questions as well. This does add a little bit to the grading time. It also takes a lot of time up front, to make sure each pool is aligning with a particular objective, but it makes me feel better about the authenticity of my assessments. It also helps when a student is retaking a course, so they can't just regurgitate the feedback I left them the last time.

  2. momancave says:

    Thanks for the ideas and taking the time to convey your ideas.

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