It's a tale as old as time, a cat-and-mouse relationship that has always existed in academic institutions: The challenge that teachers face in catching cheating students—and the game students play in order to beat the system.
The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge of remote learning has made specific types of academic misconduct much easier to perform. In order to keep cheating numbers low, many schools have invested a lot of resources into anti-deception practices. These practices include webcams, lockdown browsers, and hiring out third parties to serve as exam proctors.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has, perhaps, unlocked an innovative method to suss out cheating students. The true innovation is that this method isn't exactly high-tech; it's old school. The Institute calls it ‘distanced online testing.'
Distanced Online Testing Prevents Deceptive Students from Taking Action—Or Does It?
The primary aim of distanced online testing is to eliminate the possibility of students working together to complete assessments. This practice, known as collusion, is one of the primary methods of cheating in higher academic institutions.
Distanced online testing involves grouping students by competency, optimizing question sequences based on prior knowledge of each group's test-taking prowess, and assigning these targeted sequences to students in specific, synchronized time slots.
By following this method, students with higher competency levels answer specific sets of questions at a different time than those with lower competency levels might. Everyone still has the same fixed amount of time to answer the questions.
This method has benefits: It doesn't exhibit privacy concerns, it's not expensive, and it seems to be effective.
However, it can also serve to ensnare innocent students. There are some who believe that the practice of examining the test-taking behavior of students with previously low grades invites unfair scrutiny. There's also the problematic point that, with distanced online testing, groups of students with differentiated competencies sit different tests, possibly presenting a very uneven playing field. In addition, as this method seems to require parallel methods of cheating prevention, it may serve less as an effective way to pinpoint suspicious behavior and more as a way to confirm unfair suspicions based on other problematic proctoring methods.
Right now, when colleges and universities are likely to take fast action in matters of academic dishonesty, an allegation (regardless of accuracy) might be all it takes for your academic reputation to crumble before your eyes.
You can't let that happen. Now, more than ever, it's necessary to navigate your academic career with an impeccable record. If an overly-zealous anti-cheating system flags you, reach out to an experienced student defense attorney to learn what you can do to protect your future.
Joseph D. Lento Can Assist with Skilled, Comprehensive Student Defense
While navigating remote learning and new assessment models during an already difficult time, the last thing you need is an allegation of academic misconduct. Don't go through that complex process alone. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience aggressively defending students nationwide who need to protect their futures. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to learn more about our services.