More on Academic Honesty…

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I have posted on the topic of academic honesty previously here. I know that some of my colleagues have solved this problem or have at least been addressing this since the mid-90s, so it would seem unusual to get a posting like this on this particular blog. But many instructors, especially instructors new to online learning, are very concerned about cheating. This is an issue that is preventing some college programs from going online. As I wrote in my previous post, project-based learning and portfolio assessment solves a lot of these issues, but we still have professors using high-stakes multiple choice tests as a significant part of their courses (specially those using canned courses from publishers). Interestingly enough, we are not really dealing with actual cases of online cheating in these discussions but the perception of online cheating. And the common wisdom (the collected prejudices of our time) take it that online cheating is more common than in the face-to-face classes. But there is a great study out there on this issue by George Watson and James Sottile called “Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More In Online Courses?” They questioned 635 students about academic honesty. In the study, the students overwhelmingly believe that more cheating goes on in online courses yet when they ask the students if they have cheated in a face-to-face class 32.1% said that they did. When asked if they cheated in an online class, 32.7% said that they did. In other words, there was no significant difference between the rates of cheating online versus face-to-face.

Again, project-based learning and portfolios can really make a huge difference. Not just with the cheating issue, but in providing academically rigorous, authentic assessment in any discipline.

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