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Final Exams

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Final Exams

Final Exams

It is that time of year again for finals. Students are reaching their anxiety peak. Tempers are short and time is even shorter. Those all-important final grades will be coming out soon and students will learn if all their hard work has morphed into a passing grade. In the mean time they are doing everything within their power to assure it does. Some will burn the late night oil; others will steal moments at every opportunity to cram, while others will be looking for short cuts. Short cuts are the topic of this posting.

In the world of online testing how do you protect against cheating and how do you verify the person taking the exam is the real student? These are certainly huge questions with ever-changing answers. The simple answer is there is no 100 percent way to stop cheating, not in an online or traditional classroom, but there are some steps to take to reduce the risk in the online environment.

Lockdown Browser

  • A secure browser that shuts down everything on your computer except the exam delivery system. If anyone tries to open another program, or keep a program running in the background, the test is shut down.
  • It has the additional security feature on locking the ability to print, copy, paste, switch tasks, access other applications, or take a screen shot.

Plagiarism Detection Software

  • One of the most well-known tools, Turnitin, scans vast amounts of Web content to determine whether a student’s work matches existing material.
  • Another popular package known as SafeAssign, comes with the Blackboard LMS and works similarly to Turnitin.

Proctored Exams

Proctored exams are used by the institution to assure the integrity of the online program and can be administered three ways: Online, Institution proctored, and Private proctored. Since online students cannot be required to come to campus, they can choose which way they prefer to take online exams.

  • Online – Online proctoring is a method of proctoring involving a third party vendor using remote online monitoring. Students are responsible for the cost of the proctoring. They must also have a working camera with sound, which allows the proctor to listen to and monitor their activities during the exam.
  • Institution Proctored – The Student Success Center (SSC) has set aside proctoring space on campus for online students to take exams. Students, who choose this method, must work out the arrangements ahead of time. They must let the instructor know they will be coming to campus, and must word with the SSC to set up a time for the exam. The instructor provides the SSC with the access code for the exam, list of expectations (such as open-book, time limits, etc), and a list of students who are eligible to take the exam. When students appear for the exam, they must provide a valid ID to the Proctor.
  • Private Proctor – This method is similar to the Institution Proctored in rules, but in this scenario, the student is responsible for finding a private proctor. The proctor cannot be a friend or relative, they must be a professional of some sort. Faculty checks out the proctor and has final approval rights. The rest is according to the same rules as the Institutional Proctor.

Although these processes are in place to ensure the program/institution integrity, nothing is fool proof. A simple google search reveals several methods of beating the system. Everything from simple crib notes to elaborate dual monitor setups are out there waiting for students to discover. In the end the game continues, instructors continue to look for foolproof methods and students look for ways to fool the system. In the end, it is up to the integrity of the student to walk the right path.


Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 2, 2016 at 12:33 pm

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