It is rare to find someone who chooses to be dishonest (Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.). However, for various reasons, students may choose to cheat on a test. This could be due to lack of time needed to cover a large amount of materials, they do it as everyone else is doing it, and they may feel pressured to obtain higher grades to support a graduate application or please their families (Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.).
In a study by Grijalva, Nowell, and Kerkvliet (2006), the researchers reported “academic dishonesty in a single online class is not greater than estimates of cheating in a traditional class.” (p. 185). Kaczmarczyk reported that students cheat less in distance learning environments (as cited in Rowe, 2004). In another study, the researchers explained that academic dishonesty is higher in live courses than traditional ones (Watson & Sottile, 2010). Milliron and Sandoe (2008) explained that students may cheat if they believe that other students want to cheat. I believe that if a student is determined to cheat, he/she will do so in class and online regardless of the environment. Instructors may find it hard to detect cheating, and then they find it stressful to deal with cheating students (Millirion & Sandoe, 2008).
With the changes in technology and the development of online learning courses, the nature of cheating is changing accordingly. For example, the probability of getting same multiple choice questions generated randomly by a computer is high and requires that the instructor develop a very large pool of questions (Rowe, 2004). In addition, technology tools enabled students to access the learning management systems’ software and change times, questions and even grades (Rowe, 2004).
For these reasons, it is imperative to design effective assessment strategies that could prevent and minimize cheating in the online learning environments. Watson and Sottile (2010) suggested that instructors use subjective measures like research papers and essays and not objective measures like multiple choice questions. Other forms of assessments are the development of portfolios, group work, debates, practical and online simulations (Charles Darwin University, 2011). Other preventive measures are to use proctored written exams along with online assessment, use random questions from a large pool of questions and use secure learning management systems (Rowe, 2004). Dr. Conrad confirmed that it is more effective to use multiple assessments than timed tests as technology may affect the timed test and could put the assessment in danger (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Moreover, Dr. Boettcher explained that instructors should incorporate new assessment strategies like continues assessment, forward-looking assessment and learner-generated contents (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Finally, instructors need to remind students about the institutional policies regarding academic dishonesty and explain the consequences (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).
In conclusion, students may choose to cheat in both traditional and online environments; they need to know the implications and understand the results. On the other hand, instructors need to develop effective assessment strategies that could, not only, prevent and minimize cheating, but enhance the students’ learning experiences.
Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). Why do students cheat? Retrieved from http://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/acad_int/why.html
Charles Darwin University. (2011). Online assessment. Retrieved from http://learnline.cdu.edu.au/t4l/elearning/onlineassessment.html
Grijalva, T., Nowell, C., & Kerkvliet, J. (2006). Academic honesty and online courses. College Student Journal, 40(1), 180-185.
Milliron, V., & Sandoe, K. (2008). The net generation cheating challenge. Innovate, 4(6), 1-7. Retrieved from http://innovateonline.info/pdf/vol4_issue6/The__Net_Generation_Cheating_Challenge.pdf
Rowe, N. (2004). Cheating in online student assessment: Beyond plagiarism. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 7(2). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer72/rowe72.html
Watson, G., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13(10). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring131/watson131.html