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Ask Slashdot: How To Allow Test Takers Internet Access, But Minimize Cheating?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the great-paradox dept.

Education 330

New submitter linjaaho writes "I work as lecturer in a polytechnic. I think traditional exams are not measuring the problem-solving skills of engineering students, because in normal job you can access the internet and literature when solving problems. And it is frustrating to make equation collections and things like that. It would be much easier and more practical to just let the students use the internet to find information for solving problems. The problem: how can I let the students access the internet and at same time make sure that it is hard enough to cheat, e.g. ask for ready solution for a problem from a site like Openstudy, or help via IRC or similar tool from another student taking the exam? Of course, it is impossible to make it impossible to cheat, but how to make cheating as hard as in traditional exams?"

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Sometime the old ways (5, Interesting)

h2oliu (38090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999391)

I remember being allowed to bring notes with me to class. Would just making this open book/open notes accomplish the same thing?

Re:Sometime the old ways (5, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999501)

Some of the toughest exams I've ever taken have been open book. Mostly because they require you to understand not only the theory, but the application of the theory and law to the problem. This usually shows that both the instructor, and the student understands the course material. And that it was being taught, and understood correctly.

Re:Sometime the old ways (4, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999785)

Some of the toughest exams I've ever taken have been open book.

Same here. My observation was that if the test was "open-book", the books would not be much help.

Re:Sometime the old ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999807)

I agree. In most job situation you can look up information so it's quite pointless to test each individual their memory skill instead of their skill of applying the knowledge.

Re:Sometime the old ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999933)

This usually shows that both the instructor, and the student understands the course material. And that it was being taught, and understood correctly.

Doubt it. Our current educational system focuses on rote memorization and test scores. I'd say it's completely ineffective.

Re:Sometime the old ways (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999949)

That's my experience. If it was open book, expect the worst. It was assured you wouldn't have time to look up how to solve the problems. The problems were structured such that you really had to know the material inside and out. It also meant you had no excuse if the solution required one of the more arcane differential equation or integrals solutions from the tables in the back of the book.

Re:Sometime the old ways (5, Funny)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999669)

When I had "open-book" tests, I would always forget to bring my book

When I had "take-home" tests, I would always forget where I lived.

Re:Sometime the old ways (5, Funny)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999867)

I had a student once -- Whenever we had an "in-class" test, his mother would always have a heart attack.

Re:Sometime the old ways (4, Funny)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999965)

Then stop having in-class tests! My god, you're killing the woman!

Re:Sometime the old ways (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999921)

I've got this cancer drug, Bexarotene. I hear it has some effect on Alzheimer's disease in mice. Maybe you'd like to try it?

Re:Sometime the old ways (1)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999693)

I do not believe it would. Part of education today is learning how to use resources like the internet, and sometimes databases specific to the material you are learning. Granted, this is normally simple for people that are tech-savvy, however, there are people that need to learn how to take proper advantage of resources like the internet, otherwise they will stay close-minded and not use it at all, reducing their efficiency and knowledge.

At least, that is how I see it.

Whitelist it. (5, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999401)

They don't need the whole internet; only a handful of sites. Set up a proxy that permits only GET requests to a few domains like Wikipedia, disable Javascript for good measure, and you're done.

Re:Whitelist it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999481)

Ya because you can't have a wifi hotspot running on your cell phone. And you can't create an ad-hoc wifi network to collude during the exam.

Re:Whitelist it. (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999553)

I think that falls under the "no harder than usual" clause. Personally, when I get my PhD I'm going to demand that all of my students write their exams in panspectral Faraday cages.

Re:Whitelist it. (4, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999819)

Panspectral? Not merely multispectral?

Will the students be issued flashlights, or will the tests be administered in braile?

Re:Whitelist it. (3, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999897)

I was going to write something about how you'd end up blacklisting sites that have good answers just because they have the ability to post questions (like Stack Overflow). Then I realized that using a site like that would be considered cheating in just about any class I've ever taken, even if they did let you look up reference material.

Apparently, my entire job involves "cheating" non-stop.

Monitor the computers (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999411)

If in a lab situation, use software that records sites visited, or is capable of viewing the student's screens. Make it known that this software is being used.

Re:Monitor the computers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999659)

This was my thought, but further to that, actually record the entire exam of all the students. Then, if there is any question about cheating you can actually go back and verify after the fact.

Re:Monitor the computers (2)

project5117 (2550152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999757)

Either way, you could force the students to install VNC in their machines, then get a package like VNCplay to record all the test taking sessions. http://suif.stanford.edu/vncplay/freenix05-html/ [stanford.edu] Advise the students that all the screen sessions are being recorded, and enjoy watching them cheat with their smartphones instead.

Or you could have the students work on their computers to solve the test, and walk around the room. Anyone you dislike is excused and gets to (re)take the same test on the next class period (instead of having the day off), only with no electronics allowed. Since they saw it already, they should be responsible for memorizing all of the necessary equations. In the "same" test, you change a few numbers so any memorized answers will be wrong. No partial credit.

Re:Monitor the computers (1)

project5117 (2550152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999805)

(I realize vncplay doesn't record the entire screencast; recommendations on open source vnc session software that does it better would be appreciated if obvious.)

Watch them closely (3)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999413)

Make sure the questions are unique, change them between each exam, and carefully watch from the back of the room. You could also ask for a log of all the traffic through the WiFi point, and search for know chat domains.

Re:Watch them closely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999623)

Make sure the questions are unique

Make sure each person's questions are unique so even if there is communication between students about questions, they will only be able to discuss general methods of answering rather than specific answers.

Re:Watch them closely (2)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999699)

So instead of writing a few tests per course per year, he has to write hundreds?

Re:Watch them closely (3, Informative)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999801)

easy way to do this is have a question POOL where the test draws X questions and there are 7X questions total (adjust to your liking) if your pool is large enough then even if they ask the folks around them they won't be able to get enough info to pass.

Re:Watch them closely (3, Interesting)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999825)

Or the professor could collect hundreds of questions and let the system randomly select so no two students have the same questions. Questions could be cumulative meaning that next semesters questions could be any of the 300 from last semester or one of the 100 from this one. Eventually there would be thousands of questions. Making it harder to cheat each semester.

Re:Watch them closely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999739)

I think this solution is close to optimal.

Have the exam in the computer lab and exercise the portion of the access policy that allows keystroke/internet activity monitoring.

Make it clear that the access logs will be checked for what you define as cheating (and have a published policy of what that is).

This is a tough one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999427)

I would say to avoid short answer questions like multiple choice or one word answers.
Essays are probably harder to cheat on without getting caught.

Don't make it impossible to cheat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999429)

Because there is no way to do it. However, you can set up a monitoring program to see who goes where.
If Jimmy goes to "FreeEssays.com", you know you should approach him about it.

What are you testing (5, Insightful)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999435)

In "real life" students will have access to all those things. Perhaps it isn't cheating but rather utilizing tools that they would have access to in "real life".

Assume they'll use every tool at their disposal- and write the tests in such a way that they can't copy the question into a search bar and google the answer.

Re:What are you testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999527)

Yes, agreed.

Re:What are you testing (2)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999561)

I think the point is to give access to the tools that they could use in real life while ensuring that they can still work independently. After all, it would be far too easy for them to look up prior solutions (most courses use similar sets of questions on examinations because the students don't have enough experience to solve novel problems). Even if you could come up with unique questions, you still have a situation where they could hire someone else to answer the questions for you.

My suggestions: only let http through and use a white-list for acceptable websites. Choose those websites carefully so that they cannot be used to communicate with other students or outsiders. It is only a taste of real life, but it should be enough to prepare them.

Re:What are you testing (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999591)

Perhaps the professor's goal is to avoid creating—please excuse the harsh wording—parasites? I've heard a lot of horror stories about students who were able to ride on the success of others. At a certain point, you might as well expect everyone to just use the Internet and their social networks to answer everything for them, and never bother instructing them in the first place.

Re:What are you testing (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999917)

Some people do that in the real world too.

Re:What are you testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999717)

This leaves the door wide open for real cheating-- say I'm taking a 200-level programming course and my frat brother grad student is at home answering everything for me. No way you can write a test that won't give me an unfair benefit over someone using the internet as a reference tool.

Great for the individual, bad for the group (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999809)

This is perfectly true. Part of a skillset is how to get help. Even, you could say, getting help through blackmail or cheating.

But there's only so many people to get help from.

Sure, those helpful people can set up a chat room during the exam and have everyone pass.

Which is great until the helpful people all retire or stop bothering and none of the students can solve hard problems on their own.

This is not a class in Advanced Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999447)

The ability to effectively use resources, literature, and yes, web searches, is based on having an innate, intuitive sense of the field. Anyone can search. A person who has a base knowledge in his or her head can search better. If you want to replicate the job experience, do an internship. If you want to LEARN, keep the Internet out of the testing.

Re:This is not a class in Advanced Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999533)

This is is also not a class in "who can memorize the most arcane facts".

Re:This is not a class in Advanced Google (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999649)

Then, quite simply, the professor better not write the exam that way! It's usually possible to avoid overwhelming students with minutiae when putting together an exam, even if it does take a little bit of extra effort. I've heard a few PhD candidates complaining about the challenges of doing so, but nevertheless the students will come away feeling they've been graded more fairly.

Re:This is not a class in Advanced Google (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999619)

I would argue that courses already have a component to them that is geared toward building research skills: essays. If a professor indeed wants to encorporate an "Advanced Google" portion to the course, simply weight the papers more, or do away with the exams entirely in favour of assignments.

so you want peopel who can cram to pass but not te (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999889)

so you want people who can cram to pass but not test people with the can doing the work for real. If you want to LEARN you want it to be like a paper mcse when you can pass by just craning for the test?

You don't know what teaching is. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999453)

Teaching means showing the way to solve problems. Nobody cares about correct solutions to school problems. It's all about the process of solving the problem, a scheme of thinking.

just your basic setup... (4, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999459)

Block all traffic except port 80 http. (They don't need https, do they? They aren't checking bills online or using email, or some other security oriented task...)

Block all udp connections.

Dns filter a blacklist of known cheating sites.

Block bullshit sites like facebook, myspace and pals too. That's just good sense.

Re:just your basic setup... (2)

jcreus (2547928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999497)

Well, there's a thing called proxy... And there are plenty of them.

Re:just your basic setup... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999759)

Not a whole lot you can do about proxies without resorting to breaking the internet in seriously fundamental ways. Whole oppressive regimes have millions of dollars invested in trying to lock things down like that, and it still doesn't work.

Eventually you just have to be practical. There is only so much that can be locked down, and the savvy will know how the locks work. Rather than getting stingy about it, accept that it will happen, and impose a "proxy use gets your test torn up" rule, and log IPs.

A quick script to determine if the IPs accessed are proxies after the test day will quickly highlight your cheaters. (A little automated test of proxy functionality is all you need. A cli script that tells wget to use the ip as a proxy, and off you go.)

Suck It Up (4, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999465)

"And it is frustrating to make equation collections and things like that."

(A) Suck it up and do the work once.
(B) Use a textbook that comes with a premade formula card for use on tests.
(C) Find a premade formula card online and distribute that for tests.

Personally, I use option (B) for my math classes. Trying to make the internet non-communicable is like making water not wet.

Re:Suck It Up (3, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999673)

"Trying to make the internet non-communicable is like making water not wet."

Exactly what I came here to say. Use a closed-off intranet, physical media (formula sheets, textbooks, etc), or allow students to prepare their own short "cheat sheet" before class. Don't even bother trying to lock down or whitelist the public Internet: the public Internet is the opposite of what you want to do.

Re:Suck It Up (1)

zenjah (989288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999823)

"Trying to make the internet non-communicable is like making water not wet." I wonder what the freezing point of the internet is.

Use Random Variables and have a time limit. (5, Interesting)

roeguard (1113267) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999467)

When I was in grad school, in many classes we were allowed to use the internet on tests, as well as our notes, any spreadsheets/programs/scripts we had pre-made, etc. The caveat was that the tests were structured in a way that if you didn't already know what to do, you wouldn't have enough time to look it up and still finish the test. Googling things takes time. And the test really only provided enough time to actually do what you already knew.

You can also use random variables for each test, or groupings of tests, to prevent direct copying of answers. With a time limit, cheaters would have to wait for someone else taking the test to find the correct answer, send it out, and then modify it to match their own variables. If they can do all of that in a crunch, chances are they understand it pretty well on their own, even if they are lazy.

Re:Use Random Variables and have a time limit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999745)

only provided enough time to actually do what you already knew

When I was in undergrad, my first Calc I exam was about 30 minutes to perform something like 100 numerical integrations (eg S 1 to 3 x^2dx). At the end with everyone groaning his response was "if you knew it you could have done it". Of course, this was the class where I was so bored with homework I wrote a LISP function to perform symbolic derivation (up to and including the chain rule) for me and I think I still only managed a 50 or so.

Three years later, I had another professor hand out an extra page of questions at a midterm exam with 10 minutes on the clock, announced that we had to complete that page as well, and then walked out the door and was never seen again (rumor was he had forgotten to renew his visa or something, our class got folded into another prof's and screwed everyone in both classes over)

Re:Use Random Variables and have a time limit. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999887)

What has also seemed to work decently is oversight. The one class I've taken where we were allowed to use the computers on our exams, the teacher made a point of showing us her setup: she was simultaneously viewing approximately a quarter of the class's screens at any one time, could throw it up on the overhead, or even lock them out, record it, etc (and of course the screens would randomly switch to a different set every so often).

And she showed us. It was funny when she pointed out by name a couple people logged into facebook.

Most people aren't going to risk anything when they know they're being watched.

Wikipedia on Disk (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999483)

Give them access to a copy of wikipedia on disk. If they can't find the information there, they will be unlikely to find it elsewhere on the internet, but there should not be explicit answers to test questions.

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_on_CD/DVD

Have an honor code (2)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999491)

My school wouldn't even proctor the exam, they'd just expel you if you were ever caught cheating (no ifs ands or buts) , so getting an A instead of a gentleman's C by cheating didn't seem worth it. It did happen of course, and roughly 0.1% to 0.2% of the student base would get booted every year.

Re:Have an honor code (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999741)

It's funny how "honour code" and "honour system" mean the exact opposite...

That being said, I sincerely doubt your school was able to catch all of the cheaters with such a mild approach, especially in mathematics and the sciences. There are a lot of problems where even 'show your work' isn't a guarantee you'll get more than a little bit of variation in how students answer each question. High-level analytics on multiple-choice questions (e.g. "did these students get the same ones wrong every time?") isn't even completely statistically defensible if it can be argued that the professor was particularly bad at lecturing on a particular topic.

Re:Have an honor code (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999845)

Well, it would be pretty ballsy to cheat in the middle of a test with other students around where you're going to blow the curve for everyone else. More often than not the accuser in these situations was a fellow student. I'm guessing there was probably a good amount of plagiarism on problem sets and such, but outright cheating in an exam I gotta figure was pretty rare.

Re:Have an honor code (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999959)

I was once in a class where they announced that the graders (whom we had never met) had determined that certain students had cheated, and if they did it again, those involved would be flunked with no further warning.

They never told us who they detected. They never told us what they saw that made them think cheating had happened. They never told us who "they" were. I was scared for the rest of the quarter that they would decide I had cheated, even though I had done no such thing (and never would), because I had no proof that they knew who was cheating or even what cheating looked like.

Closed processes can be untrustworthy, and if they are, then the only people who are comfortable are the people who cheat and know they will at worst get what they deserve. Meanwhile, the honest know they will get at best what they deserve.

I regret the logical fallacy in applying this argument to all instances of the "if you cheat, you're expelled" technique, but as an anecdote it is precisely correct: I lived under a cloud of fear in that class for the remainder of the quarter despite having done nothing wrong, and despite having aviled myself of all publicly-available knowledge of the process.

i don't buy it (4, Insightful)

callmebill (1917294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999503)

So what happens when all the "original content" makers die off? If we just search the web, we'll only get old information. Let people figure out how to create their own OC by searching within and solving/exploring on their own, so that the future internet will have new information. In the meantime, grade on the curve just to keep the education process moving.

Re:i don't buy it (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999945)

So what happens when all the "original content" makers die off? If we just search the web, we'll only get old information. Let people figure out how to create their own OC by searching within and solving/exploring on their own, so that the future internet will have new information.

You may find it surprising that very few people come up with brilliant ideas entirely in isolation -- they build on the successes of others. The internet is just a way to find other people's successes faster.

Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999505)

One must either accept that cheating is an archaic, irrelevant term in a post-internet society, ar just not allow internet. Your choice.

Why don't you ask your exams officer? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999515)

I was an exams officer for a couple of years and we used e-testing for certain subjects. The golden rule from the awarding bodies was to treat it the same way you would any exam, have invigilators watching the students. Requirements would vary between different awarding bodies (HE & FE levels). For a Poly it would depend on what you are teaching and who actually issues the qualification, but it's the exams office that would be responsible for telling you.

From a technical standpoint lock the PC to a kiosk mode and firewall access to anything other than the exam site. Also remind students that if they cheat they fail and are removed from the course.

Re:Why don't you ask your exams officer? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999571)

Exams officer? I've never even heard of that. Sure, I'll ask this exams officer. I'll also ask Inspector Spacetime while I'm at it.

You Can't! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999517)

If there are laptops involved with wireless connectivity, anyone could just start a 4g hotspot with their phone and bypass any firewalls blocking them from answers.

Collaboration is a skill too (3, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999537)

If you're going to allow them unlimited research, then why not let them collaborate too? Give the whole class a set of problems big enough that they need to organize and split them up to get them all done in time. And if they can find the solution already completed elsewhere, so be it, that's what a good engineer is supposed to do. The whole point of working in the real world is that your performance depends on those around you, so the only way to measure the performance of students individually is to put them in an artificial problem solving situation like a traditional exam. That's why we still have paper, closed-book exams in theory classes, and why there are an increasing number of "project classes" where the entire class grade depends on the success of a hands-on group project.

Now you have to grade collaboration... (3, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999657)

So does the whole group get an A, if they have some rock star who knows the material cold while 4 of the other students contribute absolutely nothing, and should have normally failed the exam?

That's no different than one person doing their homework and letting their friends copy it.

Re:Collaboration is a skill too (1)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999767)

It matters who the students are collaborating with. Collaboration with peers is good (I think), even if they aren't in the class. "Collaboration" using paid help (sites exist all over the place in pay for homework type arrangements) is extremely harmful. I had it easy as a HS math teacher. My rule for take-home portions was "Use any resource you wish to. Only rule is no consulting someone who get's paid to do these types of problems". At the HS level professional help, whether it be tutors or relatives who are teachers/mathematicians, is very easy to spot from the format and language of the solution. For the OP, I'm not sure you can do this effectively at the undergraduate level.

Re:Collaboration is a skill too (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999803)

That defeats the purpose of individual education. What's the point of a degree, if it doesn't distinguish if you were the quarterback or the waterboy?

There's plenty of time for teamwork in later life. In fact, companies usually prefer to hire team members that are good enough to deliver on their own.

John Taylor Gatto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999539)

Don't waste their time with trivia that they will remember forever. Have them focus on solving real world problems with real world constraints. They will respect you. They may even be able to see school as relevant and congruent to improving their world and their lives.

Why Measure Problem Solving? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999549)

Why are you measuring problem solving skills of your engineering students? Are you teaching problem solving? Or are you teaching a subject? All of them passed your schools entrance requirements. You should be able to assume they have some minimum IQ. If you have a dumb student that has mastered the material are you not going to pass the student?

Proxy with logging. (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999555)

Simple answer. Allow them to do whatever and then review what they visited. If there is any sign of going somewhere that might be questionable, call for a review.

Exams test one thing. (2)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999569)

Practical exercises another.

I'd say keep the exams closed book/no net, and the practicums open (you can't help but have them open). But then take 3-5 minutes per student and make sure that the practicum is at least fully understood by the student with an oral exam (TA's can handle that if too much workload).

Re:Exams test one thing. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999789)

People should not be trained with a set of tools and then tested without it...

cheating shouldn't be your problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999593)

Ultimately, the cheater only hurts themselves. It shouldn't be your concern as to whether they are cheating. The only thing a lock does is keep an honest person honest. The cheaters will find a way, no matter what you do to restrict them, so the better solution is to make them take responsibility for their cheating by trusting them not to cheat.

My alma mater has an honor code, that is essentially this, on every assignment for credit, whether paper, exam, etc... you had to write a statement saying you upheld the honor code and sign it. In return, professors were hands off when we took a test, they weren't allowed to be on the same room (they had to be available if we had questions, but they were not allowed to watch us take the test. The school TRUSTED us to do the right thing, and the amazing thing is, most people did. Cheating was certainly not eliminated, but I'm willing to bet that there was far less cheating than the typical college.

Just put (parts of) the internet on a disk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999597)

I'm not sure how this would work with copyright, but it would seem to achieve your objective if you store just about every resource you can possibly find on a flash disk or similar and hand it out, or share through a network folder. No need to make sure all the material is 100% correct either, because that is a skill in itself. Start with Euclid's Elements.

If you're feeling particularly kind you could even make it available beforehand so they have time to familiarise themselves with the different data sources. I think that would come the closest to a real life experience a few months into a new job.

Use a firewall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999601)

You could use a firewall on the machine of your outgoing connection or perhaps even setup a firewall on your router. The basic idea is that you want to filter connections so that only the hosts you want students to contact are available. On a Mac, there is ipfw. Here is a simple perl script:

#!/usr/bin/perl
$IPFW = "/sbin/ipfw -q"; # this will execute the commands we want and the -q will silence output from ipfw
`$IPFW add 700 allow tcp from any to en.wikipedia.org out`; # allow outgoing connections to wikipedia
`$IPFW add 710 allow tcp from any to upload.wikimedia.org out`; # '' ''
`$IPFW add 9000 deny tcp from any to any 80 out`; #deny outgoing connections to the web

You will of course, have to run it as root.

To turn it off use:
# ipfw -f flush

I can make the full script available if you would find it helpful.

How this helps.

Thanx! (1)

RandomAvatar (2487198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999609)

I was looking for a way to cheat, thanks for pointing me in the right direction with openstudy.com........

Timed exams (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999613)

I'm in a program at NYU-Polytechnic. My professors have been fairly successful at building exams that they can complete in half the allotted time. Many of the students in my classes take most of the available time. It's not enough time to be able to do research unless you're a wizard at google hacking. Sure, they could ask someone or have someone take it, but the alternative is proctored exams, which is a ROYAL pain.

reduce the exam time to a minimum (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999625)

Cheating on the internet takes time. You have to look for the problem keywords and read the questions that people are asking, and the answers. There may also be variable changes etc.

If you allocate a *tight* amount of time for each problem, then students will find that it takes too long to cheat by googling. The downside is that you'll get complaints about your exam being too hard. In particular, students won't have time to make mistakes and correct them - they have to either know the material cold, or fail the question and move on.

Also, remember to change the questions every year.

Part of it must be: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999635)

You can forbid, but for some that only entices. Far better to create an atmosphere of merit, that is a clear sense that cheating is exactly that, cheating. Making clear that people'll be found out anyway and the obvious repercussions are only part of it. In a certain programming language related IRC channel I frequent we often see people with homework questions. We're happy to give a hint or explain things, but also make really clear that the solution must be your own. Exactly because homework is there for you to learn. That sense is what you need your students to have, so you need to work on conveying it.

Beyond that, there are numerous ways to shuffle the questions and all that, but while necessary they're window dressing.

Should be Solvable (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999647)

Suppose it costs $20/hour to hire a student to help proctor a test.

Suppose students take four classes per semester, two semesters per year, four exams per class, two hours per exam. That's 64 exam hours per year per student.

Hire one proctor for each of ten students. So each group of ten students will have to pay for $20 * 64 proctor hours. That's $1280 per ten students, or $128 per student per year for exam proctoring.

Now, let them use the Internet as much as they want, and have one student-proctor monitoring each group of ten students for inappropriate behavior. That costs $128 per student per year.

Now, hire an additional set of proctor-proctors for another $128 to manage and oversee the first set of proctors. Hire students from the business school and give them half a credit of management.

With twice the estimated required number of proctors, that's still only $256 per student year to closely monitor the tests. That is not a large portion of college tuition.

This sounds like a very solvable problem -- if the institution is flexible enough to come up with interesting solutions. Seems like being able to come up with that kind of solution would also be a pretty good way of judging the quality of a university -- good PR opportunity.

Having grades align well with academic proficiency seems like a high-value line item for universities. Spending less than 10% of tuition to make exams more accurately test for subtle skills seems like a worthwhile investment to me.

Tests are so 19th century. (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999661)

Really. actually even pre 19th century - times in which where knowledge was more theory than practice.

Now, it should be practice. tests should be abolished. people should be given continuous assignments, projects and workshops, and instead learn things while doing them, as it should be - instead of memorizing stuff from a textbook and courses and to write them down when prompted.

Re:Tests are so 19th century. (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999775)

Maybe for some fields. Not for all - or even most, where one needs both theory and practice.

Re:Tests are so 19th century. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999879)

nay. even for theory-heavy, you can just give projects, assignments, workshops and have them actually practice what they are going to learn and learn by practice. even in theoretical physics.

IN short (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999671)

I don't want to do the work to create unique tests, so how can I keep them from getting outside information?
Oh, I also want to allow them to get outside information.

Look, there training to be engineers, you can not prevent them from access 'part' of the internet.

Don't let them access the internet at all.
THEY are there to learn that subject. As such they should figure it out. ANY engineer that has to look up everything its a crappy engineer.

Brick and mortar test centers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999709)

When I took the SCJP 6 years ago, Sun directed me to a one-room test center with maybe about 20 cubicles with PC's. The guy at the counter was the proctor, they handled tests for many different vendors, not just Sun.

Not sure they still have these, but it seemed like a decent solution at the time. They could probably serve online colleges as well as IT cert exams.

Simple... Record their desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999721)

Require them to turn over/UL the recording when they hand in their test.

To make sure you have a time appropriate recording just have them visit, at the beginning and end of their test taking session, a website which displays the time and some unique identifier such as the an image of your liking (just make sure you never use the same image twice and always post it at the time the test starts).

Even if you don't ever go back and watch the recordings the students will be less likely to attempt to "cheat" if they know there is someone potentially watching. Kind of like cameras in a store to would be shoplifters.

Of course if you do have a student with the cajones to cheat and you don't catch them they will be more likely to try again the next time. But then again you will have all the recordings saved still so you can always go back and review previous test recordings if necessary.

Change the Test Format (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999729)

If you're worrying about testing them on what you want to test them on, you may want to start looking at BLOOM's Taxonomy and try to write your test questions at a more difficult level if you want to go down the "test question" route.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy

I have had to deal with test development and the difference between Knowledge and Comprehension level questions for a few years at one of my jobs. First off, Knowledge level questions for tests are fairly easy to develop. Comprehension and higher level questions are much more difficult in the long run because there is a lot more that is involved in the question development side of the house and also in the test question validation phase too.

Besides, if you are already asking these questions, you may want to look at the whole evaluation mechanism that you are using and maybe try to emulate it after something in the real world that would give you a better measurement of the Learning Objective(s) you are trying to accomplish with your students. To me, an overarching project with multiple stages to it over the time period of your course would be a much better method to accomplishing this versus doing a "test, quiz, etc." just to have some numbers, even though I'm sure your Stat-Addicts employers would love some kind of arbitrary measurement that they can use to justify buying more stuff or "why" they program is producing such wonderful students. Or even better, get them to work together in teams since that is how they do it in the real world anyway.

Unfortunately, the way testing is done nowadays does not EVEN come close what people are seeing when they work collaboratively in the real world. So I would suggest that you look at that maybe and readjust your testing mechanism to work better for your learning objectives. You'll come across as a much more objective instructor and actually get phenomenal feedback from students with something that will stick with them when they move out into the corporate world and start working together successfully in collaboration because they had the chance to do that in your class.

Don't do it. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999737)

If you're at all worried about this, don't allow internet access. Either allow it or don't, but don't half-ass allow it. If you let them open any electronic device, you have to assume they have access to the full, unfiltered internet. Welcome to the 21st century, where we have cell phones with wireless tethering and all manner of wireless access dongles like 4G modems which are completely out of your control. I suppose if the classroom was surrounded by a Faraday cage and only wired internet to their desks was allowed you could try to filter it, but then you're putting yourself into an adversarial relationship with blackhat engineering students... not a great place to be. If you think you're smarter than them, you're probably right, but they still might try a thing or two you haven't considered.

If you're testing them individually, due to the problems mentioned above, don't allow internet access at all. Cheaters will talk amongst themselves, which means in the best case scenario you'll have a bunch of students to fail, and in the worst case, you won't even know, so they'll have artificially higher marks than everyone else.

Setup Site Restrictions in the Browser (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999777)

You can setup which websites are allowed and block all others right in the Browser Options/Content. It's called Content Advisor, I've done this for me kids, works very well, and it can be password protected. Takes 5 min. to setup.

My experience with cheating... (1)

Karth (14680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999781)

Is that the cheaters are going to cheat, no matter what you do. Had a guy who listened to class material on his ipod in class. Wrote answers on their hands. Texted them to each other. Bluetooth micro-earpiece and mumbled questions under their breath. You can't stop them. You just have to let them know that when they get their dream job, with their fake resume and their unjust transcript, and they get fired within a month because they can't do it, that perhaps they would have been better off learning the material.

Take Home Exams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999783)

I had an algorithms professor who gave take-home mid-terms and finals. His policy was that students were not allowed to talk about the exams with anyone except him.

The problems sets were difficult to say the least. From a student's perspective, it's much easier to cram for an in-class exam than to solve difficult problem sets. Due to the nature of the given problem sets, I'm guessing that the professor could fairly easily spot attempts at cheating. The answers rarely consisted of a one-liner, and generally built upon the solutions to sub-problems. I'm also guessing that most students went to him to discuss at least the more difficult problems during office hours.

The trick, I think, is to choose the right problem sets. There are a lot of problems that you can't simply look up on internet. I'm also guessing that you could take the concept one step further and have students orally defend a random answer.

How it should be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999787)

I think the best way to accomplish this is by having them solve a lot of problems in a time that would actually be too short. Then grade on a curve.
That way, only the ones that are really able to solve them will. Also, give an extra problem for them to solve.
For example, let's say 40 points is the maximum in the exam. Give them 11 problems to solve, each of them worth 4 points, in only an hour (or 2-3 depending on the subject and difficulty. Anyway, not enough time for them to solve everything).
The best students will probably solve 9 or 10 problems, just barely. Most of them will solve 5, 6 problems, and get enough points to pass.
The ones who don't know the basics will be able to solve 1 or 2 at most, through Google or cheating, because other students will not have enough time to help others.

Also, change the questions every year, and if fewer then 10% get over 36 points, grade on a curve.

Please ... (2)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999797)

Tell us what school you teach at so I'm certain my daughter doesn't apply.

Engineering students are clever (1)

Chaseshaw (1486811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999849)

My thought process: block all ports other than port 80 - not effective, see tools like google chat block port 80 + internal dns a records to make sure chat/email sites like gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail don't get resolved - still not foolproof, and a chat client that operates on LAN could get around it (engineering students are clever after all), alternately phones can sit in your pocket and be tethered and no one would know you're not on their firewalled connection. use school-provided laptops? - too expensive How about make a program that the students are required to install to take the exam, and the program screenschots at random times what they are doing and uploads it to a LAN address so you can just see what they're doing? Maybe even get a programming class to write the apps and analysis software as one of their own final projects. - is definitely an invasion of privacy though (if students currently taking an exam can claim to have such a thing) Or just make the exams so friggin hard that if they have to google every little thing, they won't get a good grade because they won't finish it. Ask for things like to sketch flowcharts that will not translate over text or chat in a meaningful way. (and if 20 students all submit exactly the same flowchart due to an email ring, it'd be easy to spot for the grader)

Re:Engineering students are clever (2)

Chaseshaw (1486811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999913)

sorry bad formatting

My thought process:

block all ports other than port 80 - not effective, see tools like google chat

block port 80 + internal dns a records to make sure chat/email sites like gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail don't get resolved - still not foolproof, and a chat client that operates on LAN could get around it (engineering students are clever after all), alternately phones can sit in your pocket and be tethered and no one would know you're not on their firewalled connection.

use school-provided laptops? - too expensive How about make a program that the students are required to install to take the exam, and the program screenschots at random times what they are doing and uploads it to a LAN address so you can just see what they're doing? Maybe even get a programming class to write the apps and analysis software as one of their own final projects. - is definitely an invasion of privacy though (if students currently taking an exam can claim to have such a thing)

Or just make the exams so friggin hard that if they have to google every little thing, they won't get a good grade because they won't finish it. Ask for things like to sketch flowcharts that will not translate over text or chat in a meaningful way. (and if 20 students all submit exactly the same flowchart due to an email ring, it'd be easy to spot for the grader)

/facepalm (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999875)

Or it will train them not to think when wikipedia goes down...

Some of the best instructors I had taught the concepts and not the "units", and all the notes and cribsheets in the world were useless if you didn't understand the concept. Not every instructor can be one of the top-10, so maybe we do need to handicap those profs with internet access. /s

Google Cache (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999877)

Only allow them to use Google cache to be sure they don't use some chat site.

Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999899)

don't let them access the internet.

student's point of view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999919)

Current student here - I know from experience using prefab tests makes it much easier for students to cheat. They can simply use a search engine for a part of the question and typically find an answer. Writing your own tests and changing them from year to year require students to do the work while still being able to use resources available to them.

class layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999929)

Have all the computers face the same direction. Place the instructor behind the students so he has visibility of all the screens. Give the instructor a computer that has remote viewing access to all the testing computer. Post the rules on the wall at the front of the room.

For added effect (depending on the test content), have a grid that shows every screen projected to the front wall. Allow all the students to see it, but have them small enough that they can't really read anything. This shows the students that you are watching with just enough information for him to pick out his screen on the wall. It's like having a security cam with a monitor showing the person that is recorded.

Make the exams where the first few questions are the same. Then the rest of the pool has questions that look a lot a like, but vary because of 1 or 2 key words that change the answer.

Also offer students a 5% bonus if they report a student cheating and they get caught.

Log it all (2)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999937)

You could just allow blanket access, require everyone using a connection to get MAC address filtered access (so you know every device requesting access) and then log everything. Then provide stipulations that any live chat or forum use is forbidden. Anything except reputable / academic sources is forbidden. To make it extra fun, tail the log of the access point live (projector?) and grep it through a few good regex to weed out junk and find any terms associated with IRC, forums, etc etc. Allow them to ask for white listing sources, or provide your own (allow wikipedia, but not the discussions on each page which can be used to carry out conversations, etc). Or just allow all net access but restrict access to just the sites you think are of use (wikipedia, specific journals, publisher's reference information, google for unit converting on the search bar, etc).

Try a different angle... (2)

Millennium (2451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999947)

You're never going to be able to make cheating as hard as it is on non-open tests as it is on open tests. That's an inherent problem in allowing access to outside information, particularly when you're dealing with worldwide communications.

What you can do is minimize the impact of cheating by working with the test itself: in particular, by setting a time limit based on its length. The idea here is to make it so that someone who constantly looks up outside information is highly likely to run out of time to finish the test. There's a delicate balance to be struck here, because you've said that some amount of going outside for information is not only to be expected but completely appropriate. But at the same time, you expect at least some knowledge to be "in-brain" (for lack of a better term), and so by using in-brain knowledge when it's there, a passing student will be able to finish the test quickly enough to beat the time limit. The trick is calibrating things, and I'm afraid I don't know a good solution for that.

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