How to prevent and eliminate plagiarism and cheating?

Isn’t cheating and plagiarism a huge concern in MOOCs?  Yes, as highlighted by Siemens (p6) here and McEachern in MOOC post here.

Cheating and plagiarism is rather common in online education, and in particular MOOCs.  Surprised?

One professor doesn’t want to give out the correct answer in MOOCs – in this post of “one-mooc-professor-wont-let-students-know-right-answers”.  The intention might be to minimize cheating in MOOCs.

How to prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Her is a nice post with videos on plagiarism and cheating.

It takes time & efforts to develop good assessment tools and questions (MC) in the same domain of known knowledge. There is a “threshold” limit where one could exhaust all questions on certain topic, unless you open up new topics. Cheating is still a challenge as students could appear as multiple “candidates”, and could share answers once they are known in multiple forms (emails), and even websites/social networks that are closed. The timed tests (MC) may be one way to control, but again, if multiple tries are allowed, one could “improve” upon time, and candidates could merely copy all the questions and answers and “resell” to others who want to know these. I am not an expert in cheating, but from observing and experience, we know that there are many tricks that could be used.

The most effective way to prevent students cheating is NOT to use Multiple Choice, or even Peer assessment as the sole means of assessment in MOOCs. But this would include more stringent assessment requirements, and may drive more students away, as this could mean that only LEARNING remains, without much “assessment” by the MOOCs. The assessment would then be done by taking “real tests, assessment or examinations, portfolios, and participating in Forum etc.” like what the first cMOOCs are required. This may not be the perfect way to prevent cheating and plagiarism, but at least, this would deter those who want to get the qualifications easily by ensuring that they work with authentic tasks, and produce original work. I seldom see students able to cheat that easily with customized and personalized learning tasks, and assessments.

What are you experiences on this area?

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7 thoughts on “How to prevent and eliminate plagiarism and cheating?

  1. Another interesting post relating to the email by the professor and the problem associated with disclosing answers to the questions. If the students couldn’t figure out the answers, they are advised to post such questions to the forum, but not the correct answers there, so others could provide some help and support.

    Would that create more problems on copying and cheating? People would likely post their own versions of answers to questions, which could be further confusing for other students.

    What would we normally do when students don’t know the right answer? What is the best approach? In most videos (including Khan Academy), what do they do? Do they post answers?

    I think what is most important is not JUST THE ANSWER to the questions, but how to come up with the right answer(s), and why the answer is right.

    I have posted that in another post, in that students would keep on asking for the “questions” and “answers” to the test, assignments and examinations in most education system (Higher Education in particular), if the education system is only honoring people on “meritocracy” , based on “competency” as demonstrated.

    Why can’t teachers and professors teach students the right answers right the first time? Students could then recite or regurgitate the SAME EXACT CORRECT answers when the same or similar questions are posted. This sounds logical and reasonable, when an industrial model of education is implemented. Indeed, when these students are working in business and industry under a traditional mass production industrial model, they could be expected to repeat the procedures that they are taught, and just follow the instructions at work.

    That is why we seldom ask the basic question about education, on what education is for, especially in Higher Education. We have so accustomed to standardized assignments, tests, examinations as a way to check students’ performance that most, if of all have relied that as the sole means to ensuring students are up to the standards required, back in K-12.

    Do people know that education is more than the transmission and consumption of knowledge and information (especially in MOOCs and Higher Education)? Education is related to the moral and intellectual capability and capacity of learners. If we think getting a 100% and A+ is what education means, then it would be no surprise if people might use whatever means, including cheating and plagiarism, if they don’t want to “waste” their time or to spend extra efforts to achieve their goals. This is morally unacceptable, but if people don’t perceive integrity as that important in their education, then they would still cheat.

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