Day 30.5: Electronic Cheating

6 11 2009

At our university there is a strong culture of honesty. No, I am not naive enough to think that our students don’t cheat–in fact, I actually presented a research paper on this topic a few years ago, and it appears that we have our share of folks who take shortcuts. So, as we move into new methods of testing and evaluation I am keeping an open eye for new and better ways to cheat. While this topic is much too involved for me to cover here, let me just mention at least one advantage these new tools give us in keeping our students honest.

Consider this email I received Monday after our quiz:

It is awkward for me to tell you this but I think it is necessary to let you know. This morning, when we were taking the quiz I did not  like the grade that I made and I wanted to figure out what I did wrong so, I  looked back at the questions but to be able to look at the entire quiz I had to answer the questions all over again. When I had answered everything, I was tempted again to see how I did for that second time so I clicked on submit. I just wanted to tell you the truth first before there is any confusion about it. I am really sorry about this confusion and I hope it is not going to have any bad consequences.

Thank you for your understanding and I am sincerely sorry.

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Day 12: Known Unknowns(?)

18 09 2009

compass 649932_highDay 12 was a project day, so after we checked attendance via email I asked my students to answer a single question for me using Nanotools, our very basic locally developed survey system. I explained the dilemma we face in designing an electronic quiz, specifically that the system can give them immediate right/wrong feedback on each question, OR it can let them go back and change answers during the quiz, but not both (NOTE: in a common student fantasy they receive feedback, then are allowed to change answers). My question was which they would prefer: (a) immediate feedback, (b)the chance to change, or (c) no preference.

Today, I learned an important lesson: Nanotools is appropriate for informal feedback ONLY. How did I learn this? I’ll let you take a look at the graph of responses, and you can observe two things. First, the responses nanotools graphwere roughly split between the first two options. And second, my class of 69 students managed to log a total of 86 votes. This peculiarity was pointed out to me after class by an astute student, and in talking with him I learned that the students had discovered early on that they could vote multiple times. Read the rest of this entry »