Messaging during your exam: students cheat during these times as well

Fraud via Whatsapp, photo Pixabay

For the first time, exams are being held online on a large scale. This brings with it all kinds of new issues. For example, how do you ensure that students in their rooms do not cheat?

That question was asked this week at Maastricht University (UM), because of a multiple-choice examination in quantitative research methods that was held online on June 12. The intention was that the order of the questions for students would differ.

However, due to an error in the examination software, this did not happen: students were shown exactly the same questions. This allowed them to discuss the possible answers with each other in a chat room. UM declared the tests of almost 1200 students invalid (in Dutch, ed.).

Students message each other during exams
At the University of Twente (UT), 280 online video exams were also declared invalid (in Dutch, ed.) due to fraud last month. Teachers noticed that some students suddenly performed exceptionally well or gave exactly the same wrong answers.

The UT had deliberately not opted for online proctoring because its students would be smart enough to bypass these systems, U-Today writes. Instead, students have to "solemnly promise" not to cheat at any remote examination. They can also be picked for an oral test after an exam.

Erasmus Magazine reported last week about students International Business Administration who would have helped each other with an online exam via Whatsapp. Nine students are known to have asked each other specific questions about the test.

In Nijmegen, the examination committee of the bachelor Economics started an investigation into an oral examination this month after a letter of complaint from an anonymous student, Vox reported. The last person to take an exam would have heard all the questions from predecessors.

No fraud was proven during the oral examination, it now appears. However, another online exam of the same course will probably have to be partially retaken. Students would have "copied and pasted" from a Powerpoint file of the course.

Some suspicions of fraud are now being assessed by the examination board in Utrecht
Students at Utrecht University hardly seem to cheat any more now than during exams at the university. Only the Faculties of Humanities and Geoscience report a slight increase in "alleged fraud cases", says spokesman Maarten Post. The suspicion is that there has been telephone contact between students during the examination. However, only a maximum of four students were involved in the fraud. A number of alleged fraud cases is now being assessed by the examination committee.

"Utrecht University relies on trust regarding exams," says Post. "That's why we're tough on violations."

In Utrecht, teachers try out test forms that make it difficult to commit fraud. In the case of knowledge tests for large groups, UU uses online surveillance (proctoring). Teachers also say that they randomly call students after a test to explain an answer.

A Geosciences lecturer explains through Post: "The possibility of individual video interviews afterwards raises a (psychological) threshold against fraud. The interviews I had myself were enlightening because they removed any doubt, moreover they gave a picture of the students' perception of the exam, and finally both I and the students liked to have some form of contact".