- To eliminate cheating, educators can lessen students’ stress about tests by clarifying test expectations and emphasizing the learning process, Stephanie Toro writes for Edutopia. Students should understand that exams are an opportunity to show their knowledge, not something to cause stress, said the assistant professor and education researcher at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.
- Toro, also a pedagogical coach and consultant, recommends teachers use open-ended questions such as “how” and “why,” which emphasize the learning process rather than the final answer. Clarifying what will be on a test also reduces anxiety, and frequent low-stake assessments, such as quizzes, give students ongoing feedback and a better understanding of what the test will contain.
- Toro also recommends adding a funny cartoon in the test preparation packet to boost dopamine and calm students. Designing tests to give students plenty of space to write can also reduce cognitive overload, and asking questions that focus on problem-solving or having students explain scenarios based on certain criteria can reduce cheating.
Keeping cheating in check has become even more challenging during pandemic-era school closures. State assessment and testing officials are concerned, for example, that parental help may skew results. Curriculum Associates, which makes the i-Ready test, found some scores improved when students took exams remotely. Experts caution against using remote testing to establish authentic levels of learning loss.
While it’s difficult to prevent cheating all together, especially during distance learning, teachers can use cheating as a teachable moment and give students the opportunity to fix their mistake. Often, students don’t feel like they are cheating if the teacher hasn’t created an environment to prevent it. For example, proctored exams send the message cheating isn’t allowed.
There is also an equity disparity between the ways students cheat. Wealthier students may hire someone to write a paper for them, for instance, while lower-income students are more likely to plagiarize — a tactic that can be more easily detected.
When designing tests, educators can also make cheating more difficult by creating questions that can’t easily be solved through an internet search. Rather, questions should be based on analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Open-ended questions eliminate the ability to replicate a peer’s answers and encourage more critical thinking.
Limiting testing windows also reduces the opportunity to cheat. Educators can also change the sequence of questions from one student to another so they can’t share screens or message each other for answers while the test is in progress.
Curriculum experts say that, similar to open-ended questions, project-based curriculum makes cheating tough while giving students a platform to demonstrate understanding. Project-based curricula can also motivate students because it connects what they're learning to directly applicable situations in the real world, demonstrating the importance of learning the content.