Monday, November 17, 2014

Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Two: Quiz Security and Cheating

This is the 2nd article in a series related to using the Moodle Quiz Tool.

Quiz Security and Cheating

Online testing presents opportunities for students to be creative in their attempts to "game the system" when it comes to taking quizzes. Most online quizzes are meant to be taken outside of class and for that reason the instructor has limited control over the students' conduct during a quiz. Students can download the questions and print them out, take pictures of questions with their mobile device and send them to other students, have other students take the test for them, use their notes and textbooks during the quiz, and the list goes on and on!

The anonymity of the online environment may open up new avenues for cheaters, but it's not really much different than your face-to-face classes. A few people will go to great lengths to cheat, but most students will be honest as long as it's not too easy to get away with cheating. A few creative strategies can be employed to eliminate most of the easy cheats and to make cheating more trouble than it's worth for students. Read on for a few strategies for countering cheating schemes.

Printing and Sharing Questions

  • If you have the quiz enabled to display feedback and correct answers, students can print the results page from their web browser or take a picture of it and share it with others. Or students can print the quiz questions directly from the quiz while it is in progress (by using the print feature in the web browser or screen capture). According to Moodle, the key to discouraging this behavior is to randomize the question order and the answer order. This makes printouts a lot less useful because students will have to look through the printout for the corresponding questions and pay attention to what the correct answers are instead of just the letters corresponding to the answers.
  • Another strategy is to create larger question banks and use subsets of questions and let Moodle randomly choose questions from each subset. With this randomizing it is less likely that students will be delivered the same test and it will discourage them from attempting to share tests.
  • In the quiz settings, under layout choose to have every question delivered on a new page. When this setting is enabled, the student would have to print a separate page for each quiz question which will use up their time limit on the quiz and also deplete the balance on their student print account.

Using the Textbook During the Quiz

  • During an unsupervised quiz, students have the opportunity to look up the answers in the textbook or their notes. There are ways to make the textbook and notes less directly useful. Timed quizzes are the single most effective tool for eliminating the temptation to use the textbook. A timed quiz requires students to complete the quiz in a certain amount of time. If you add enough question to the quiz and make the time short enough, students won't have time to look up every answer. recommends about 30 seconds per multiple-choice question.
  • Designing questions that require students to synthesize and apply information will also discourage them from trying to look up answers. These types of questions require that students understand the material and be able to apply it creatively to answer the question. So while students may still take the time to look at the book, they will need to understand what they have read to successfully answer the question.

Working with Friends

If your students are on the same campus, they may get together in a lab and try to take the quiz together. Random question order, random answer order, and questions randomly pulled from subsets of the test bank will discourage this behavior. If one student's screen doesn't look like the other person's it is harder for them to quickly compare and answer the questions together. A timed quiz also makes it hard for two people to cheat if they have different questions and only a short amount of time to answer.

Having Someone Else Take the Test

It is sad to say, but students will sometimes pay their classmates or others who have already taken the course in the past, to take online quizzes for them. There are two ways to counter this cheating strategy:
  1. Have an occasional proctored exam where students are required take the test in a lab or testing center and show their student ID in order to take the quiz. In the quiz settings, require a password (in the Extra restrictions on attempts section) so that students cannot enter the quiz without the proctor entering the password into Moodle. If students have not taken other quizzes or done the work until then, they will do poorly on the proctored exam.
  2. To eliminate current classmates from taking each others quizzes, only make them available for a short time. You could require everyone take the test within a 2 or 4 hour block. If the test is properly randomized, it will be very difficult to take it more than once during the open test period. The test taker will worry about their own grade first, then about the other student's grade.
Coming next: Effective Quiz Practices in Moodle - Part Three: Tips for Creating Quiz Questions

This information is from the document: Effective Quiz Practices which can be found at:

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