by Fran Redstone, Ph.D.
I have been teaching hybrid classes for several years and have always thought it was more worthwhile to spend time interacting with the students rather than proctor exams. Therefore, I give tests online. Academic integrity regarding test taking is something I have always considered. The FCPE is giving a workshop and recently published these TIPs for promoting student honesty and integrity. I am writing this article to demonstrate how I have put these concepts into practice.
During the first session of each course a discussion takes place regarding the importance of learning what is being taught, the meaning of ethical behavior in the students’ chosen field, and the consequences of cheating and plagiarism at this university. Since I want students to learn and retain certain concepts, I believe that studying is crucial. Therefore, prior to administering a test online I tell students that studying is essential, because there are several forms of the test, all questions are scrambled, all responses in a multiple-choice test are scrambled, and the time frame is quite short. I open tests for a slightly shorter period within a larger time frame (e.g. the test is open from 1:00 to 2:15 for 60 minutes). The slightly larger time frame is to diminish the anxiety for needing to open the test at a specific time. In addition, if they spend time asking classmates for answers, if they begin to flip through their notes and/or text, or if they spend time taking screen shots of the test, they will probably not complete the test. In addition, I give a very short quiz on the same material during the class session following the online test. This not only assures that studying takes place, but it also aids in the retention of studied information.
Another worthwhile suggestion that was made by the FCPE is that students’ grades should not be wholly dependent on tests. Students should also be required to participate in group work, class discussions, and presentations which are also part of their final grades.