Distance Learning

How Students Try To Bamboozle Online Proctors

The use of "cheat sheets" is the most common way students try to cheat on their online tests. The second most common tactic is to use Google Search and Translate, followed by copying test questions for distribution, hiding flashcards underneath the keyboard and hanging answers on walls.

That's what online proctor Examity found when it analyzed 62,534 final exams taken online and scrutinized the six percent of those tests in which students tried to violate the rules. The company performs online proctoring for the University of Cincinnati, U Arizona and Temple U's School of Business, among many other institutions.

The proctoring process uses a student's own webcam and microphone to keep an eye on what's occurring as the student takes a test. Proctors watch test-takers and look for possible violations as they're monitoring students, a process that's recorded. When something occurs, they make comments and issue flags to inform instructors, who can review the video after the test has been given. Yellow flags are issued when the proctor observes a minor violation; red flags are issued when the student shows "clear cheating behavior."

In the case of somebody hanging answers on the wall, for example, the Examity proctor checks the room prior to the test and then watches for eye/head movement during the exam to determine if the student is looking for possible answers posted on the walls.

While the company insists that the "vast majority of students" are honest in their test-taking, it acknowledges that some get a little extreme in their tactics. Examity discovered in one case that a mom had tucked herself under the desk of the test-taker to communicate answers. In another situation, somebody was positioned just outside the room and coughing answers in Morse code. One test-taker hid a cheat sheet in her baby's bassinet. Another faked a coughing fit to remove a cheat sheet tucked into the back of his throat. And one student hired a professional "ringer" to take the exam.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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