How can you make sure your remote learning students take their assessments without “special help” from a family member, friend or classmate? It’s one of the most-frequent questions asked in this new remote learning world, the short answer is “you can’t”.

You might be tempted to join fight designed to prevent cheating, or to adopt punitive approaches such as online protected assessments. But the reality is, students will always find new and creative ways to get around your policing efforts.

Punitive approaches have not been effective for many of our students. In fact, many of our students have been victims of a punitive approach at their previous schools. That approach doesn’t often work for our population. Research states that it’s nearly impossible to create a cheat-proof test, in the remote world or the world we once knew. I thought about this and then I went back to what I did when I was in the classroom, assume that every assessment you give is open-book allowing students to use the resources around them to their benefit. Below you will find 3 ways to help students appropriately earn their grade, in the world we currently exist!

  1. Ask students to explain their problem-solving process. If you give students a set of problems to solve, some may search online for answers to similar problems. However, it’s harder to find student-generated explanations of the steps they took to solve those problems. Adding a short narrative question to an online test requires students to do more than just provide the correct answer. This can be a short, open-ended test question that takes seconds to grade.
  • Get to know each student’s writing style in low- or no-stakes tasks. To prevent or detect plagiarism without relying on imperfect software solutions, ask students to complete brief weekly writing assignments. In the history, English and science courses I use teach, I get to know my students’ narrative voices in their Do Nows. When I grade a paper that is weighted more heavily, I was able to quickly detect plagiarized text because it doesn’t “sound” like that student’s usual style.
  • Assess learning in online discussion forums. Don’t overlook the potential of discussions boards/forums as a valuable yet low-stakes source of feedback on whether students are learning the material. Structure your discussion questions in ways that pulls out what students know about a topic. Ask students to cite additional sources for their comments.

Hopefully this helps you all moving forward!

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