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CHEATING AND LEARNING THROUGH WEB BASED TESTS

J.C. de Sande, R. Fraile, L. Arriero, V. Osma-Ruiz, D. Oses, J.I. Godino

Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
The use of web-based tests delivered through learning management systems has grown at university level in the last years. One of their key advantages is the possibility of creating tests with some degree of randomness that are automatically and real-time assessed. Although the access to the learning management system resources is controlled for each student by means of personal username and password, the cheating among students when doing the tests cannot be avoided. However, if in spite of cheating the students finally learn, the process could still be considered to be successful. In this work, the date, required time to solve the test and grades of quizzes undertaken by students through a web based learning management system are analyzed and they are compared to the grades obtained by the same students in a written test solved in an examination classroom under the supervision of the teacher. The course in which has been developed this study (Signal and Systems for Electrical and Electronics Engineering undergraduate students) is organized in 5 subjects and the students make a quiz on the web for each subject. At the end of the course the students make a final written exam that includes a true/false test. Around 50 questions for each subject of the course have been created. The questions are organized in 5 to 8 categories for each subject. The learning management system generates quizzes by arbitrarily selecting 1 or 2 items from the 5 to 8 categories in a given subject to complete a 10-item quiz. Due to the reduced number of items for each category and the large number of students that attend the course, several questions are repeated in quizzes generated for different students. The authors have noticed that some students work in groups to solve the quizzes, some of them answer all the questions in a quiz in few minutes (less than 20 % of the time used by the most of their mates) and obtain high scores. When the scores of the same students in the final exam are analyzed, it is found that they also obtain good results. Then it could be concluded that although they have found a way of cheating to solve the web quizzes, this is still pedagogically valid because they have learn about the subject (they also obtain good results in the written test).