My previous post offered four tips on making your assessments more secure and preventing cheating. Aside from verifying IP addresses and running a Trojan horse or stealth items to help detect whether a participant has memorized the answer key, there are some physical actions you can take to avoid the problem and reduce the temptation to cheat.
Proper seating arrangements for participants
Seating participants with adequate space between them and giving them limited ability to see another participant‘s screen or paper are important strategies for enhancing test security. The proctor should be aware of cheating techniques such as the ―”flying V” seating arrangement where the “giver” at the point of the V feeds information to a number of “receivers” behind them. The givers and receivers can communicate in a number of ways, using sign language, dropping notes on the floor, etc. (Dr. Gregory Cizek’s book “Cheating on Tests: How to Do it, Detect it, and Prevent it,” will tell you more about this and other aspects of cheating.)
Example of the “flying V” answer copying formation (Cizek, 1999):
Using unique make-up exams
Many organizations offer make-up exams for participants who were sick or had legitimate excuses for not being able to take an assessment at the scheduled date and time. If you use the same exam that was administered at the scheduled date and time for their make-up exam, you open yourself to risks of the exam form being compromised. Sometimes the make-up exams are not administered in the same strict proctored environment as the scheduled exam, allowing participants the opportunity to cheat or steal content.
Using more constructed response questions
Constructed response questions, like essay or short answer questions, provide less opportunity for participants to cheat because they require them to produce unique answers to questions. There is no answer key to steal, and participants who copied other people’s constructed response answers are easily identified via a side-by-side comparison of answers.
I hope you enjoyed this three part series on preventing cheating. You will find more information about various means for deploying many different types of assessments in our white paper, “Delivering Assessments Safely and Securely.”