4/04/2009

How to Prevent Online Quiz Cheating


Let's face it; whether on paper tests or in digital format, some students are going to try to cheat. But that does not mean you should let them get away with it. Many quiz authoring applications, software, and learning management systems have a number of options designed to quell online cheating. While this post is based on the Moodle LMS (1.9), many of the same security features are included in the various quiz authoring platforms.
  1. Timing: There are a lot of things you can do with timing that make cheating more difficult. First of all, be sure that the test opens and closes at a specified date and time and is otherwise unavailable. Of even more impact is to include a time limit. This will ensure that students do not have extra minutes that could be used for copying, browsing the internet, or any other forms of cheating.
  2. Shuffling: Shuffling questions is a good general practice. Your quiz will be more challenging if the questions have a random order rather than chronological or by topic. Using this feature, students sitting next to each other will not be able to make reference of questions. Be sure to also shuffle the answers so students cannot simply memorize the order of answers in a multiple choice test.
  3. Review Options: While it is generally good practice to give students feedback after a test, if student have access to a set of questions that will be used again, they may share the quiz. Therefore, limiting review options so that students can only view responses and correct answers immediately after the test can curb cheating and still provide a level of feedback.
  4. Secure Window: Moodle has an option to show a quiz in a secure window. This means the quiz will be in a full screen mode without the option to easily browse the internet and use certain mouse and keyboard functions. Be careful with this one, a technically savvy student can get around it pretty easily.
  5. Password: When in doubt, password protect your quiz. Not only will this make it secure until the password is revealed, but students will hopefully get the point that you expect your quiz to be secure.
  6. Network Address: The most advanced option of all is probably requiring a certain network or ip address, or range of addresses. This will ensure that the test taker is only using specified computers for the quiz and that someone is not logging in remotely to take the test. Ask your system administrator for help with this one.
Of course, the ultimate protection against cheating is sound instructional design. Creating tests that require open-ended, essay type answers using wikis, or more project-based evaluation can eliminate a lot of the cheating that goes on with more traditional methods. Good Luck!

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