The Cheatability Factor in Online Education

Presentation Slides


The Cheatability Rubric

What is your online course’s “cheatability factor”? 75% of students have admitted to cheating during their college career, and according to some studies online assessment makes cheating easier. This session considers technical, philosophical, and environmental factors that may increase or decrease the cheatability of online courses from design to delivery, and presents a rubric used to assess those factors.

Objectives and Description

Presentation objectives:

Participants will..

  1. Discover the extent to which cheating-related problems exist in online education and online-based assessments
  2. Consider factors that may contribute technologically, philosophically, or environmentally to online cheating
  3. Examine a rubric used to measure the “cheatability” of online course
  4. Discuss practices and strategies to avoid or minimize the impact of cheating

Presentation description:

Nobody wants students cheating in their online class, yet an estimated 75% of students have admitted to cheating during their college career, and according to some studies online assessment makes cheating easier. The problem is not only one of practical importance for educators, it is one of growing importance to instructional technologists, administrators, and anyone else with a vested interest in the validity and reputation of distance education and technology-enhanced teaching.

This session will first present information and collected research data that summarizes the state of cheating in higher education in general, and in distance education specifically. While a general awareness of the pervasiveness of cheating may be in and of itself an eye-opener to many educators and administrators, the motivations behind cheating and the responsibility teachers have to recognize their own influence on cheating can provide an alternative perspective on what is normally considered a quite simple choice. McClusky’s theory of Power-Load-Margin, for instance, informs teachers of the impact they may have on students’ lives, and the impact students’ lives have on their studies, both of which can lead students to choose to cheat. A number of environmental factors are particularly salient in online courses, such as ambiguity of definitions of cheating, actual or perceptual “distance”, level of instructor-student interaction, individual relevance or meaningfulness of activities and assessments, etc. Additionally, there are a number of more technical and technological factors that can increase or decrease both a student’s propensity to cheat, and his/her ability to cheat.

By considering these technical, methodological, and environmental factors, Distance Education at Utah Valley University has developed a rubric to assess online courses and report on potential factors that may increase or decrease the cheatability of online courses from design to delivery. This rubric is (1) provided to teachers engaging in distance education course development or instruction, (2) made available to administrators and department chairs as an example of our mutual interest in preserving the integrity of online education, and (3) implemented internally as a tool in our course design process to better evaluate and recommend online assessments before, during, and after an online course is delivered.

Because cheating itself is a complex and sensitive issue informed by experience and diverse perspectives, this session seeks to engage participants in a dialogue on cheating, online assessments, and technology. We predict there will be naturally flowing discussion and debate between participants who may favor one approach over another, e.g. a “direct assault” approach which seeks to thwart any and all attempts at cheating using technology or applied strategies, vs. “hearts and minds” pedagogical approaches that focus on course environment, assessment design, and student engagement.

Bookmark List: Cheating in Online Education


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