Can We Stay One Step Ahead of Cheaters? A Field Experiment in Proctoring Online Open Book Exams

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The Bottom Line

Collaboration as a cheating strategy may be higher when students are in face-to-face classes compared to classes that are solely online.

Research Summary

This study, based on students at the University of Illinois, found that average open book exam scores were on average 11 percent higher for unproctored online exams compared to proctored exams. However, when the nature of the proctoring tool (in-class live proctor vs web-based proctor) was changed, the results indicate that the difference between proctored and unproctored exam scores is smaller for web-based proctored exams relative to in-class live proctored exams. The authors suggest that the primary mechanism leading to this result is collaboration on exams between students. They posit that such collaboration may be easier for students that are enrolled in face-to-face classes relative to classes that are solely online.

Key Takeaways

1. The Effectiveness of Live Proctors and Web-Base Proctors May Differ

Cheating methods and their prevalence in online exams may vary based on whether the class meets face-to-face or only online. Additionally, proctoring tools may be more or less effective in identifying certain types of cheating methods.

2. Student Experience May Vary Based on the Type of Proctoring

The implications of using in-class live proctors versus web-based proctors may differ for students (e.g., student anxiety). To date, there is little to no research on the student experience with online proctoring, which may be an alternative explanation for the results.

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