When your program recognizes that students are cheating, it inspires frustration and disappointment. But more to the point, it’s a problem you have to solve.
Dr. Barbara Blackwell, the Director of Holy Name Medical Center’s School of Nursing, faced that problem recently and set to work with her team to determine how to solve it. As she described in a recent webinar, they came up with a few techniques to achieve more secure exams that mix high-tech solutions with more old-fashioned ones.
8 Techniques for Having Secure Exams
1. Use (enough) proctors.
One faculty member isn’t always enough to reduce cheating during exam administration. If you can have two in the room – one in the front and one in the back – you’ll have an easier time spotting anything suspicious. For bigger class sizes, you may want to add even more proctors to the mix for higher test security. At Holy Name Medical Center, they aim for at least one proctor for every 25 students.
2. Seat students yourself.
Don’t let students sit wherever they want, seat them as they come in at random. No one can count on peering over a particular friend’s shoulder that way. If you have enough space in the room, leave a couple of desks between each student so they can’t see what’s on anyone else’s screen.
3. Use colored scrap paper.
If you want to allow students scrap paper, don’t allow them to bring in their own. Provide it for them, but make it a different color for every exam. That way, they can’t try to sub in your scrap paper for any they’ve brought it that already have notes on them.
4. Make them leave all personal items at the front of the room.
You can provide them everything they need to complete the test, everything else – smartphones, purses, whatever’s in their pockets – can be left at the front of them room before they go to their seats to get started.
5. Don’t let them bring in a calculator.
As an extension of #4, your list of items they must leave behind should include any calculators. Students can be very clever about hiding notes or answers within a calculator. If you’re using Examsoft, a calculator is available within the tool for any exams that require calculator use.
6. Don’t allow bathroom breaks.
As long as your tests don’t take too long, you should be able to reasonably cut out the option of bathroom breaks. If you warn students in advance and give them the chance to go before starting, then sticking to this rule will cut down on the opportunities they have to chat with each other or access forbidden materials in the course of the exam.
7. Keep exams password protected.
Having password-protected exams gives you control over who has access to the test and when. And if, for any reason, you have to stop a test in the middle of your exam administration, you can use a different password for resuming the exam.
8. Keep exams offline.
Secure offline exams give you the ability to allow any type of device for testing and still maintain your exam security. Students can’t access the internet or other apps during the test. Everything on the device is locked down until they’re finished and their answers have been submitted.
A desire for greater exam security was only one of the reasons that Dr. Blackwell and her colleagues chose to switch to computer-based testing with Examsoft, but it was an important consideration that the exam software has made easier on them. To learn more about how the switch to secure offline exams works, schedule a tour. We’d be happy to go over it with you.
For more information on how Dr. Blackwell and the Holy Name Medical Center’s School of Nursing is using ExamSoft, you can listen to this webinar on demand.