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Teaching Tip: Assessing Students in Your On-Line OM Course

December 9, 2013

students chaetingHere we are preparing for final exams for Fall already!  If you are teaching an on-line operations management course, Faculty Focus (Dec. 2, 2013) points out that assessments that worked perfectly fine in a face-to-face classroom may need to be tweaked or even replaced for the online version. Why? Because cheating is easier to do (and harder to detect) online. While it’s not clear whether online students do, in fact, cheat more than face-to-face students, the truth is that it is more difficult to monitor who’s taking a test and how they’re taking it online than it is in a classroom. Faculty Focus’ 5 strategies for adapting assessments for online delivery include:

  • Timed/open book tests. Online, every test is an open book test (except those that are proctored). To minimize read-as-you-go test-taking, reduce the amount of time students have to take the test so that only those students familiar with the material can answer the questions in the time allotted. Alternatively, replace selected response tests (such as multiple choice and T/F) with short-answer or essay questions that require students to apply textbook facts to novel scenarios.
  • Randomized test questions. Shuffling questions helps reduce the likelihood that 2 students sitting in adjacent library carrels can take the same test together, one answering the “odds” and the other answering the “evens.” Selecting questions randomly from our large 2,000+ question test bank takes this idea one step further, providing each student with a similar (but not identical) assessment.
  • Frequent low-stakes tests, such as short quizzes or self-check activities worth no more than a few points each, help make cheating more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Coordinated tests. Instructors who teach multiple sections of the same class may want to coordinate tests so that all students take the same test at the same time. (Staggering tests increases the likelihood that the first students to take the test can pass on question details to their  colleagues.)
  • Proctoring. Requiring students to take proctored exams takes cheating off the table—or, at least, returns it to the same level as a face-to-face class.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt Liotine permalink
    December 9, 2013 3:07 pm

    I used these exact same techniques when teaching OM. I give a 25 question multiple choice question quiz on Blackboard that is timed (1 hour). The questions and answers are randomized. It works very well and is very convenient since we don’t have to sit down and grade papers.

    The quiz is open book and notes, of course. Cheating is not really a factor because of the time limitation. I had given the same exact questions on quizzes in class and closed book. The students actually scored better this way than on line – go figure!

  2. Michael permalink
    March 10, 2014 8:53 pm

    I appreciate this article because I recently caught 50% of my online class cheating. My greatest concern with online education is you really do not know WHO is doing the work; who is cheating and who is completing the work with integrity. In less than 30 minutes, all of the test banks, case studies and instructor’s manual can be downloaded for free. This problem really needs to be addressed.

    I no longer use the publisher’s test bank and hesitate to use the available case studies. I set traps in the quizzes. I slightly change the question so the correct answer will be different, especially on math questions. If the student uses the answer in the test bank, I know they have cheated.

    • jheizer@tlu.edu permalink
      March 12, 2014 1:23 am

      Michael, I will see if I can find a reference to the AACSB study done a few years back that documented extensive cheating. It is pervasive. In the meantime, I would note that we live in a world where students think music downloads are free as is much copied software, videos, and movies. We could go on to some poor examples set by faculty, students at the Navy Academy etc.

      Therefore, as a significant step forward, I find the on-line tests, such as provided by the Pearson platform (which includes Myomlab) with randomized numbers, in randomized problems, and a time limit very very effective at reducing cheating.

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