5 Simple Strategies to Prevent Cheating

thornytreeEven when instructors convey the importance of trust and high expectations of academic integrity, students who are stressed, confused, or demotivated can be tempted to go the dishonest route.

Tests in the online environment are especially tricky – when we try to enforce honesty with proctoring and timing mechanisms, it can appear that students are presumed guilty. Read more in Pitfalls of Online Testing.

Here are several ways to reduce both the opportunity and the perceived need for students to cheat.

  1. Honor Pledge – One strategy that instructors are finding effective is asking students to sign a simple statement of academic honesty, pledging they will not take (or give) unauthorized assistance. This puts accountability back onto the student, and helps to build a “culture of academic integrity.” See more in this article from Syracuse University.
  2. Question Pools – Designing tests that pull from a large question pool or question sets will help to create unique tests that help students think more critically and study more broadly.
  3. Group Tests – Sounds radical and counter-intuitive, right? But you might want to consider trying this method as a way to reduce student anxiety, and re-envision tests as lower-stakes, team-building activities rather than a solo exercise. With team exams, groups of students work together to determine the answers, much like what happens in the real world. Read more about Team Exams in this Faculty Focus article.
  4. Adjust test settings so that test questions are presented “One at a Time” to reduce pressure and allow students to discover right away if their internet connection fails. This also helps deter opportunities to print or share answers.
  5. Accept the Highest Score – Allowing students to take a test twice with different question sets creates a positive, trusting, and empowering environment in which they can demonstrate true learning.