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STUDENTS’ AUTHENTICATION AND AUTHORSHIP CHECKING SYSTEM AS A FACTOR AFFECTING STUDENTS’ TRUST IN ONLINE ASSESSMENT

R. Peytcheva-Forsyth, L. Aleksieva

Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohrdiski" (BULGARIA)
Online education is becoming more and more popular worldwide. As an integral part of it online assessment needs to ensure equity between online and face-to-face students’ assessments (JISC, 2016). The bigger is the growth of online education, the more important the way of assessing online students becomes and the question of e-assessment reliability, security and trustworthiness is also becoming increasingly important (Rowe, 2004). Students’ trust in their universities is a topic that has been scientifically discussed (da Rosa Borges et al., 2018) as it is a key component in the modern strategic management of organizations working in a more competitive environment (Kramer and Tyler, 1996) as universities. According to Ghosh et al (2004), if conditions of trust are established, students are less likely to drop out. Since e-assessment is also dependant on trust (Lebus, 2010) it should be considered as a very important factor for successful e-assessment. One of the discussed in the literature factors that can support the provision of trusted online assessment is the use of student’s authentication and authorship checking system (Okada et al., 2018).

The focus of this study is on the use of such system developed by a project funded by EU Horizon 2020 ICT Programme - TeSLA (An Adaptive Trust-based e-Assessment System for Learning) and the ways it affects students’ trust in online assessment. TeSLA system integrates authentication instruments such as face recognition, voice recognition and keystroke dynamics and authorship instruments - forensic analysis for writing style and plagiarism detection which can be used in a variety of e-assessment activities to detect cheating and plagiarism (Mellar et al., 2018; Noguera et al., 2016). Although there is growing awareness about cheating and plagiarism in e-assessment and the number of researches on this topic is increasing, there is very limited literature on the impact of e-authentication systems on students’ trust in e-assessment (Okada et al., 2018). The use of such a system is likely to affect the trust in e-assessment in different ways: to increase it, to reduce it, or to be neutral in terms of trust.

Therefore, we attempt to identify:
i) Do students trust in online assessment in general?;
ii) What is the impact of students’ authentication and authorship checking system on their trust in online assessment?; and
iii) Does the use of specific authentication and plagiarism detection instruments affect:
1) the students’ trust in the authentication system and
2) the students’ trust in online assessment and how?.

This study examines the attitudes of Sofia University (Bulgaria), who used different TeSLA instruments (or combinations of them) in their course assessments during academic 2017/2018. It discusses whether the students found the e-authenticated assessment trustworthy and reliable alternative to traditional face-to-face assessments. Data includes two questionnaires (pre- and post-) completed respectively by 465/342 students. For data analysis, we primarily used descriptive statistics, and in order to investigate interdependences between the key categorical variables we used Pearson correlation and Chi-square tests using a significance level of p<0.05. The results indicated a positive effect of student authentication and authorship checking system on students’ trust and revealed the specific impact of the different authentication instruments.