How Much Randomization is Needed to Deter Collaborative Cheating on Asynchronous Exams?

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The Bottom Line

Randomized questions pools are not enough. We need to have randomized variables within each question in the pool to be effective.

"We conclude that randomization with pools of four (or even three) problems, which also contain randomized parameters, is an effective mitigation for collaborative cheating."

Research Summary

Randomization of questions selected from question pools and question parameters can neutralize the advantages of collaborative cheating in asynchronous exams. This study finds that when students are given the same exam question, even when parameters are randomized, cheaters performed, on average, 13% higher. Increasing the size of the question pool to 4 and randomizing which questions are selected from within each pool resulted in a statistically indistinguishable difference between cheaters and noncheaters. These findings suggest that the combination of the increased size of question pools and the randomization of both question selection within pools and the randomization of parameters can reduce the advantages gained through collaborative cheating.

Key Takeaways

1. Asynchronous Exams Are Prone to a Specific Form of Cheating, Collaborative Cheating

When exams are administered asynchronously, the risk for collaborative cheating is high because students who take the exam earlier can share exam information with other students who have not yet taken the exam.

2. Collaborative Cheating Can Be Reduced With Appropriate Randomization Techniques

Randomization techniques should consider the appropriate level of randomization for both question pools and question parameters.

3. Randomization Techniques Can Reduce Other Forms of Cheating Beyond Collaborative Cheating

Increased randomization of question pools and question parameters makes it more difficult for cheaters to have access to exam information and harder for them to memorize the increased number of problems. 

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