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 that the Internet is causing some massive growth in academic dishonesty, but the data that Don McCabe collected through his big longitudinal study, which started in one thousand nine hundred and ninety two, didn't show any major growth. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. 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 Helix Education and we're here today with Dr David Ruddinger, professor of psychology and director of academic integrity programs at University of Mary Washington. David, welcome to the show. Thank you for having me.

Are Really excited to talk with you today about the student incentives regarding online cheating and what, if anything, we can do to change those. Before we dig in, can you give the listeners 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 by training and cognitive psychology, but have become interested in the particular decision that students make too cheat or, more often not to cheat in their various work and assignments. So I teach courses in psychology. I also serve as the director of economic integrity programs, which means that I'm the procedural advisor to our student run on our system. Verry Washington, is a little bit unusual in that all of our academic integrity decisions are made by our student body, through an elected 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 need some help doing that, and that's my role at Larry Washington. So I'm a teacher, a scholar of academic...

...integrity, I've published some papers on the 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 those roles simultaneously. Yeah, and a fascinating student governance model and and obviously a really 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 read today? It's hard to answer that question because a lot of the data sets are a couple of years old even, and so of course everything's changing so fast in the current covid environment that any answer I give you will be somewhat dated by its nature. Yeah, having said that, online cheating is, it has been, a growth problem, of course, because in a internet use is because of a growth problem. But in the data that I looked at before covid hit, I would say that online cheating was while a bigger proportion of cheating, we weren't seeing a huge growth in academic misconduct as the result of the Internet. There's been this...

...perception out there that the Internet is causing some massive growth in academic dishonesty. But the data that Don Mc Cabe collected through his big longitudinal study, which started in one thousand nine hundred and ninety two, didn't show any major growth. They've showed the sort of normal ups and downs that you would expect the Longitudinal data collection in order to try to 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 doing to try and prevent the possibility for cheating all together? Well, first to disclaim is that I haven't seen a lot of this stuff firsthand because I work at an honor food institution, so we tend to take a much more proactive handsoff kind of approach. But I certainly do keep up with the literature and I 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 big brother TV show has it, and now universities are asking students to open cameras up into their own homes to track their...

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

...the incentives all together in order to prevent the inherent need for cheating, moving away from a very few high stakes exams every session to many more low stakes quizzes. Absolutely, it's not like I invented this idea. I'm a cognitive psychologist and so even before we really called it learning sciences, a lot of us in cognitive psychology have been asking the 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 I came to was not near as much as we imagine that they are. And so I'm a big fan of taking advantage of what we know from the behavioral science 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 likelier to lead to long term growth in knowledge and skill. So yeah, three tests and a final exam don't really strike...

...me as optimal or even, you know, basically acceptable as a learning strategy. It's just what happened to work in the 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 less cheating. For all sorts of reasons, right including the students feel like the stakes are lower. When students feel like the stakes are high and they feel like they're out, that the outcomes are out of their control, they're more likely to resort two things that they, even they would say, don't comport with their values. So we can give students a chance to sort of fail gracefully, 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 the literature, things that you're experimenting at University of Mary Washington to try and minimize cheating 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 or mitigate academic misconduct. I think the first one is opening. Open Book Open note tests are an easy way to circumvent the notion that students have to go google the answers. Once you create an open book open note test, you have to rethink what you're assessing, but give students the chance to have the materialized at hand and apply it in a way that challenges them. So they challenge, therefore, in the learning, is in the application, not in the memorization. That's going to circumvent a lot of economic misconduct, because the things that you were then calling this conduct you're now calling a good learning so that'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 understand why we're doing what we're doing in the classroom. It's when a student feels like what they're doing is a waste of their time or doesn't, when they are 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, an assignment as having potential to help them...

...in their lives, then they're going to be more likely any way to try to achieve that success with that assignment because they see the value to them. If they see this just a box to be checked or hoop to jump through, then they're going to find any way through that hoop or to check that box and they don't really care if learning as part of that. So helping them understand why we're asking them to do what we do is a huge part of getting them to buy into doing the work. David, really, really good stuff. Any next n steps? Advice for institutions who are trying to think through this campus wide approach to academic integrity? Where should that conversation begin? I think the best place to begin that conversation is and the teaching and learning centers. I think teaching and Learning Center experts are absolutely our best allies in reducing cheating. I've been quoted before and I genuinely believe this. The best way to reduce the academic misconduct is to teach better. Right. Don't don't dump down your work. I'm no one would advocate that, but rather...

...make make the work you're asking students to do more personalized, more challenging, more engaging to the students, and a 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 looking for this commodity which is this economic degree, and those students are going to be very hard to deter from academic dishonesty using either tech solutions or proactive pedagogical solution. And that we're still struggling with how to deal with students who are fundamentally not there to learn. They would absolutely fascinating stuff. Thanks so much for your time today and all that you're building in the world the University of Mary Washington. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? I think the best way to reach me is through my email at the International Center for Academic Integrity, which is dret and sure, which is my last name, at Academic Integrity Dot Org. And I'd also take the opportunity to plug the International Center for Academic Integrity, which is a consortium of colleges, universities and...

...individuals who are researching and addressing this problem institutionally. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today, David Ark. I really appreciate it, and thank you all for listening. Attracting today'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 in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most 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 that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening.

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