Reduce Cheating in Online Courses

Anyone that teaches, be it online or in the traditional classroom setting, has likely encountered issues of academic dishonesty.  No known method of preventing all academic dishonest exists but there are many ways to reduce the likelihood of cheating. A few of which are listed below. 


Randomization is Key

Are you using quizzes or exams in your course?  If so, consider randomizing the questions and question responses.  You can randomize questions by creating random sections in your exam where students will be provided a sub-set of the total number of questions available for the exam.  Question responses can be randomized so that the correct answer choice is different for each student. Though randomization cannot prevent guarantee students won’t cheating, it can serve as your first line of defense by making it more for your students to work collaboratively on the exam.

Note:   Only randomize question responses for questions which do not contain an “all of the above” or combination response answer choice.


Consider locking it down.

Another option available to you is to lock down certain D2L and computer functions when your students are taking the exam.  The locking options in D2L include disabling the D2L pager function (students will not be able to instant message each other inside of D2L) and disabling the right-click mouse function to deter students from copying and/or printing the exam.  These options are limited in locking down the student’s computer during an exam.  For a full lockdown experience, you can use the Respondus Lockdown browser to prevent students from gaining access to copying and printing the exam as well as being able to use the internet to search for correct answers.

Contact the CeCE Office if you plan to use the Lockdown Browser for the first time.  We can share some strategies that will make it a better experience for you and your students.


Must Post First

If you have not used the “must post first” option in the discussion area, let us introduce you to your new best friend.  Officially labeled “Users must start a thread before they can read and reply to other threads,” selecting this option on the properties tab in a discussion topic will force students to write an original response to the discussion topic without the aid of being able to read what other students have posted.


Consider the assignment type.

Unfortunately, some assignments are destined for academic dishonesty at the time of design.  Assignments that require the simple listing or restating of facts are much more susceptible to plagiarism and academic dishonesty issues than assignments that require original work or direct application of the material to your student’s personal story.  When creating assignments with dishonesty in mind, you are likely to create assignments are have more depth and academic rigor while simultaneously providing your students a transformative learning experience.


Give in...sorta.

We are not talking about ignoring minor academic dishonesty infractions.  Academic dishonest is very serious and we urge you to always address it with your students.  But at the same time why not create assignments where students are allowed to seek assistance and another person’s input? We encourage you to create collaborative assignments.  Notice we said collaborative assignments and not group work.  Group work is a good option for some situations but not all.  With collaborative assignments, students may work with each other or people outside of the course and university system.  Have your students work with experts (Skype interviews) or work with local non-profits to gain real world experience (service learning).