The ability and hence temptation to cheat is significantly higher during these times, for many obvious reasons. A few thoughts and approaches:
Talk to your students about integrity.
They know what’s right, they have ideals, and they want to be challenged. Give them frequent reminders to act like the type of person they want to become: it sinks in.
Define your expectations.
Students often truly don’t know “what’s OK” and “what’s not.” We’re using these categories at Northridge. Teachers copy / paste one of these categories for every piece of work:
- Assessment Category: Open book: Students may seek answers in notes / book / internet
- Assessment Category: Closed book: Students must answer questions from memory only, without help of notes or any other resource
- Assignment Category: Individual: Students may NOT seek help from another student, and should only ask the teacher for any needed assistance
- Assignment Category: Individual but Collaborative: Students may seek help from another student but may not copy / share answers
- Assignment Category: Group: Students may work with other students and share answers
Students won’t resent an increase in “protective measures.”
You can’t watch everyone all the time; besides, it would damage student-teacher trust. But students do recognize the necessity of extra precautions in a virtual environment, and won’t resent them if you are open and honest about what you’re doing and why.
Use the software!
- Test / Quiz strategies: Tests should be taken during class time (or all the same time), with a time limit that’s a bit of a stretch. Question order should be randomized. And ideally, if taken during class time, each student is visible on his/her web-cam.
- Use turnitin.com: The tool is outstanding. We use it for submitting as much as possible – homework, short answers, long essays, etc. (And by the way, it makes grading and commenting very easy).
Design Assessments and Assignments for synthesis.
- A quiz/assignment with “rote” answers or is overtly objective is easy to cheat on.
- An assignment/assessment in which the student has to think, solve a problem, or make a model is a lot more difficult to cheat off of – and tests higher order learning.
- Or consider video-recorded-submissions. Some teachers have had a lot of success with this (but only after trial runs, ensuring all students learn how).
Design Assignments for group work (not every assignment, but a reasonable number).
- Our students are starving for peer interaction. Have them work on problems together.
- Group works provides an opportunity for an isolated student to converse with someone else in a low pressure social situation.
Online tools are here to stay: adapt.
Work-saving online tools (e.g., equation solvers, google translate, wolframalpha, worked solutions, etc.) will only get better and easier to access. Don’t fight them, but rather incorporate them into your teaching, and construct assignments that require these tools and show students how to properly use them.
It is important to stay optimistic. Technology makes improper behavior so much easier than “back in our day.” We would have had the same struggles as our students. Just keep at it, hold them accountable but with affection, and you’ll help them become good men and women.