Virtual education is becoming a popular alternative to in-person learning for its convenience since it allows you to learn and study from anywhere you have an internet connection. But as with any kind of new advancement, there are also a few kinks that need figuring out. One of the major issues that can arise from an online learning environment is how to properly handle online testing. Without the student present in the same room as the teacher, how can testing fraud be dicouraged?

While most students understand that testing is vital to ensuring that they are learning the material properly, there are some who might find an online test as the opportunity to have someone else, who may know the material better, take it in their place.

Benefits of online testing

There are many benefits to choosing online testing. Online testing can help to reduce the administrative burden, especially in classes with a significant number of students. It can also allow for quicker grading and reporting of test scores, which helps students to better know where they stand in each course. It is also more cost-effective and can allow more students access to education by providing for remote learning assessment.

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How can test fraud be prevented?

Since testing is a critical component of assessing a student's capabilities and understanding of the material, it is vital that schools help to limit test fraud through preventative measures. The key to reducing fraud is to follow a few simple suggestions and use secure online testing tools. Below are some tips to follow and ways you can use online testing to create a secure testing environment.

Use a proctor

A “proctor” is a supervisor who monitors students during an examination. You can use a proctor for testing processes that require webcams as well. This will create the same environment as a test being taken at a school as the proctor will be able to monitor the test-taking group. Not only can they make sure that the correct students are present during the entire exam, but they will also be able to make sure that they are not consulting with someone else or leaving the testing area. Proctors can even request that students perform a 360-degree scan of their testing area to ensure that the student does not have notes around them. Proctors should also require that webcam audio be left on to ensure that no one is communicating to the test taker off-camera.

Require proof of identity

One of the key steps to eliminating testing fraud is requiring proof of identification from the test taker. Start by requiring the user to sign in with a unique user name and password to gain access to the test. After they have securely logged on, you can then require them to present a government-issued or school-issued photo identification card via their webcam. The proctor of the exam will check to make sure that the name on the ID matches the account.

Consider setting time limits

With most in-person learning scenarios, testing times will be limited to the length of class, so providing a time limit for an online exam will not be any different than having to take the exam in class. But by having a time limit, it will require the student to stay focused on the test and provide little to no time to try finding the answer out from someone else in the household, or through some other resource. If you are not using a proctor for the exam, the time limit can be set so that the exam will cease to be available once the time has expired. If choosing this method, it is important to provide students with time, reminders to help them to stay on track.

Prevent navigation

If you are worried that students will be able to quickly access the answers to the exam questions by opening the search tabs on their computer, you can set the exam up to prevent navigating away from it. Notify your students that navigating away from the exam or closing the tab will result in the exam ending, so that they are aware of what could happen and to discourage the desire to look up the answer during the test.

Avoid multiple choice questions

Multiple-choice questions can be easily shared among students, especially if you are using the same questions over different testing groups. It also can make it hard for you to determine who is taking the actual exam. When possible, use short answers or essay questions. Or basically, any type of question that requires a more extensive answer than yes or no, true or false, or a or b. This can make the answers more difficult to share and also allows you to better verify who is taking the test. Many students will have their own style when answering a question, as well as their regular use of vocabulary. Some online testing programs can analyze these style metrics to help determine if the answer is similar to answers that students have given in the past. These programs can also analyze keystroke biometrics and match them to other tests by the same student. While it is possible for slight changes in these analyses, major deviations may be a sign of fraud.

Consider using a question bank

Another option is to design your questions based on the material but without the same questions being used for each student in the same order. You can do this by using a question bank. This will allow the teacher to input a number of questions related to the covered material and then distribute the questions randomly among the students. In the end, no two student exams will look exactly the same. This limits students' ability to provide other students with questions for their upcoming tests, as the students will be unaware which actual questions will be part of their exam.

Following the tips above and using a secure online testing system can help you reduce the amount of fraud that may occur in online testing situations. But, it is always crucial for any education environment that you provide information at the beginning of the test as to what would be considered fraud and what is not permitted during the testing process, as well as the consequences that can occur. This can include things such as the ability to use or not use notes and the prohibition of discussing answers with peers. This will allow there to be no confusion about the parameters of the test and also remind students that they will be held accountable for any attempt of fraud.

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