Addressing Higher Ed’s Online Cheating Problem

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. David Rettinger, Professor of Psychology and Director of Academic Integrity Programs at University of Mary Washington joined the podcast to talk about changing the incentives altogether and prevent the very need for online cheating in the first place.

There's been this perception out there thatthe Internet is causing some massive growth in academic dishonesty, but the data thatDon McCabe collected through his big longitudinal study, which started in one thousand nine hundredand ninety two, didn't show any major growth. You're listening to enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaderslooking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for freshenrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the rightplace. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university,a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with HelixEducation and we're here today with Dr David Ruddinger, professor of psychology and directorof academic integrity programs at University of Mary Washington. David, welcome to theshow. Thank you for having me.

Are Really excited to talk with youtoday about the student incentives regarding online cheating and what, if anything, wecan do to change those. Before we dig in, can you give thelisteners a little bit better understanding of University of Mary Washington and your roule there. Sure. First to say I'm professor of psychology. I've studied decisionmaking bytraining and cognitive psychology, but have become interested in the particular decision that studentsmake too cheat or, more often not to cheat in their various work andassignments. So I teach courses in psychology. I also serve as the director ofeconomic integrity programs, which means that I'm the procedural advisor to our studentrun on our system. Verry Washington, is a little bit unusual in thatall of our academic integrity decisions are made by our student body, through anelected body of students who make decisions about responsibility and sanctioning for academic integrity.They're also responsible for the policy. Now, as you can imagine, they needsome help doing that, and that's my role at Larry Washington. SoI'm a teacher, a scholar of academic...

...integrity, I've published some papers onthe topic and I'm a practitioner working in the honor system at very Washington.So that makes me a little bit unusual and that I have all of thoseroles simultaneously. Yeah, and a fascinating student governance model and and obviously areally interesting bit of color for our conversation. David, to kick us off today, how big do we think the online cheating problem is in high readtoday? It's hard to answer that question because a lot of the data setsare a couple of years old even, and so of course everything's changing sofast in the current covid environment that any answer I give you will be somewhatdated by its nature. Yeah, having said that, online cheating is,it has been, a growth problem, of course, because in a internetuse is because of a growth problem. But in the data that I lookedat before covid hit, I would say that online cheating was while a biggerproportion of cheating, we weren't seeing a huge growth in academic misconduct as theresult of the Internet. There's been this...

...perception out there that the Internet iscausing some massive growth in academic dishonesty. But the data that Don Mc Cabecollected through his big longitudinal study, which started in one thousand nine hundred andninety two, didn't show any major growth. They've showed the sort of normal upsand downs that you would expect the Longitudinal data collection in order to tryto figure out how to solve or mitigate the existing cheating that we are seeing. What are some of the biggest brotheriest text solves that you've seen institutions doingto try and prevent the possibility for cheating all together? Well, first todisclaim is that I haven't seen a lot of this stuff firsthand because I workat an honor food institution, so we tend to take a much more proactivehandsoff kind of approach. But I certainly do keep up with the literature andI think the biggest brothery is things I've seen is the literal big brother item, which is the video cameras. Right or well had it, the bigbrother TV show has it, and now universities are asking students to open camerasup into their own homes to track their...

...behavior, you know. So thestudents are being asked to take their Webcam and display their entire room that they'retaking the test in there, asked to video record themselves taking the test and, of course, audio record themselves along with that. For at least weknow that they're being transparent in a sense that they're letting students know that they'rerecording them. Yeah, I think that if we ever get to a pointwhere students are being recorded without their knowledge. That would probably win as the biggestbrotheriest item. But I do think the students probably are giving away moreinformation than they realize they are. Through some of these systems. There arethings like keyboard typing, fingerprint checking. I mean literal fingerprints, but Imean that, for example, you're typing patterns can be compared to those usedon an Examin so they can determine if the same person as typing in twodifferent instances. So the costs of information that's giving out that I don't thinkthey necessarily know they're giving out and almost fainly, didn't consciously consent to giveand so you've suggested the possibility of changing...

...the incentives all together in order toprevent the inherent need for cheating, moving away from a very few high stakesexams every session to many more low stakes quizzes. Absolutely, it's not likeI invented this idea. I'm a cognitive psychologist and so even before we reallycalled it learning sciences, a lot of us in cognitive psychology have been askingthe question how much our students really learning from our very traditional style classes,you know, the lecture and test assessment sort of style and the conclusion Icame to was not near as much as we imagine that they are. Andso I'm a big fan of taking advantage of what we know from the behavioralscience data. So frequent testing, using testing as a learning experience itself,giving students a chance to own and engage with the material on their own terms, and really deep as opposed to shallow learning over time, are much likelierto lead to long term growth in knowledge and skill. So yeah, threetests and a final exam don't really strike...

...me as optimal or even, youknow, basically acceptable as a learning strategy. It's just what happened to work inthe large lectures that many of us grow up with. As a site, thought I was going to add that, in addition to being pedagogically superior,to break up the assessment, I think you're also going to get lesscheating. For all sorts of reasons, right including the students feel like thestakes are lower. When students feel like the stakes are high and they feellike they're out, that the outcomes are out of their control, they're morelikely to resort two things that they, even they would say, don't comportwith their values. So we can give students a chance to sort of failgracefully, to learn from their mistakes, they're much less likely to take shortcuts. Is there anything else that we can do? Things that you've seen theliterature, things that you're experimenting at University of Mary Washington to try and minimizecheating in our online classrooms without those Webcam based proctoring or browser monitoring solutions.Absolutely, there are a lot of things...

...we can do to either prevent ormitigate academic misconduct. I think the first one is opening. Open Book Opennote tests are an easy way to circumvent the notion that students have to gogoogle the answers. Once you create an open book open note test, youhave to rethink what you're assessing, but give students the chance to have thematerialized at hand and apply it in a way that challenges them. So theychallenge, therefore, in the learning, is in the application, not inthe memorization. That's going to circumvent a lot of economic misconduct, because thethings that you were then calling this conduct you're now calling a good learning sothat's going to help a lot, I think, in terms of being proactive, one of the most useful things we can do is make sure students understandwhy we're doing what we're doing in the classroom. It's when a student feelslike what they're doing is a waste of their time or doesn't, when theyare not able to connect the activities that they're doing with their long term growth, that they're willing to circumvent the activity. If they see, say, anassignment as having potential to help them...

...in their lives, then they're goingto be more likely any way to try to achieve that success with that assignmentbecause they see the value to them. If they see this just a boxto be checked or hoop to jump through, then they're going to find any waythrough that hoop or to check that box and they don't really care iflearning as part of that. So helping them understand why we're asking them todo what we do is a huge part of getting them to buy into doingthe work. David, really, really good stuff. Any next n steps? Advice for institutions who are trying to think through this campus wide approach toacademic integrity? Where should that conversation begin? I think the best place to beginthat conversation is and the teaching and learning centers. I think teaching andLearning Center experts are absolutely our best allies in reducing cheating. I've been quotedbefore and I genuinely believe this. The best way to reduce the academic misconductis to teach better. Right. Don't don't dump down your work. I'mno one would advocate that, but rather...

...make make the work you're asking studentsto do more personalized, more challenging, more engaging to the students, anda vast majority of them will respond to that by rising to the occasion.At the same time, there are students who are there because they are lookingfor this commodity which is this economic degree, and those students are going to bevery hard to deter from academic dishonesty using either tech solutions or proactive pedagogicalsolution. And that we're still struggling with how to deal with students who arefundamentally not there to learn. They would absolutely fascinating stuff. Thanks so muchfor your time today and all that you're building in the world the University ofMary Washington. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any follow up questions? I think the best way to reach me isthrough my email at the International Center for Academic Integrity, which is dret andsure, which is my last name, at Academic Integrity Dot Org. AndI'd also take the opportunity to plug the International Center for Academic Integrity, whichis a consortium of colleges, universities and...

...individuals who are researching and addressing thisproblem institutionally. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today, DavidArk. I really appreciate it, and thank you all for listening. Attractingtoday's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive inthis new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today'smost pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure thatyou never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening.

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