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Examining Online Exams

By: Andy Chen

Like most other jobs, teaching has naturally become more difficult during the pandemic. Not only must teachers adjust their curriculum, schedules, and technology to accommodate for online learning — but they must also adjust assessment procedures.

Teachers typically assess how successful an exam is based on two factors: whether or not the exam is fair to test takers, and whether or not the exam accurately measures the test takers’ mastery in the subject matter.

Regarding the second factor, different approaches work for different classes; generally, teachers stick to synchronous tests consisting of a mix of short-answer and multiple choice questions, similar to in-person tests. While these tests accurately measure mastery, teachers must also recognize that cheating is possible (and oftentimes inevitable) as a result of the online testing format.

That’s not to say that teachers can’t prevent cheating — softwares like LockDown Browser and Canvas can track or prevent students from switching to new tabs; administrators can require students to unmute themselves during an assessment to prevent calls; and teachers can require students to position their camera in a way that displays everything from their eyes down to their paper.

If students are determined enough, however, they may still be able to bypass these countermeasures. For example, they may mute their microphones or use their phones on the side. 

While academic dishonesty can be tempting, students should do their best to study and genuinely learn the material instead of resorting to cheating. A student that chooses integrity actually learns and retains information, building their work ethic as well as an academic foundation that may come in handy when students eventually come back to school. On the other hand, students who rely on cheating may find themselves lost when in-person education ultimately resumes.

Desperate times call for desperate measures — but even during the pandemic, no times are desperate enough to warrant cheating.

About Andy Chen

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