Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Australian University Students Allegedly Cheating with iPads

I was interviewed briefly by Caroline Winter at ABC Radio's The World Today, about university students allegedly using tablet computers to cheat in examinations: "University investigates allegations of cheating" (19 Nov 2013, 2:44pm AEDT). This was a follow-up to the item "Medical students allegedly cheated on Adelaide University exam about human reproductive health" (19 November 2013, 8:01am AEDT).

Students are alleged to have screen captured from an examination paper and left them for the next group of students. Apparently the iPads were supplied by the university and not reset between examination candidates. This seems a curious way to administer a computer based examination and such an examination seems an odd way to do assessment.

For the last year I have been assisting another university to convert a paper based clinical assessment process from paper to computer. In that case the doctors supervising students in hospital use the system to report on student progress. This uses HTML 5 based web forms so that it will function with any type of tablet computer (Google Android, Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface or any web browser).

There are also ways to administer examinations on a computer, but you obviously need to restrict the student's access to material not permitted in the examination and have a real, or virtual, invigilator. You can't simply give the student any old computer (or their own) and let them sit the examination unsupervised. The exception would be "take home" examinations which make up a small proportion of the assessment, or none at all and are formative to help with learning, rather than summative.

There are ways to make cheating harder with screen based tests, such as choosing questions at random from bank and altering quantities in numerical ones.

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