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Design written assignments

As students have free access to other sources of information, as in a home exam, extra thought is required for the examination to be conducted with high validity and reliability. Below are recommendations to keep in mind when designing exam assignments, with a focus on counteracting cheating

Wordings of the assignment

Below are some examples and recommendations to keep in mind when designing an exam assignment.

The purpose and design

The purpose determines the design. Is the course divided into different parts/themes and this task describes some of the intended learning outcommes (ILO) objectives or can all ILO be reported with the assignment. See "Connect examination to teaching" on the Home exams  page for examples.

When designing you also has to think about; How far should the students' work be, word limitation? What file formats may be submitted? How much time is the student expected to have spent on the assignment? When and where should the information be submitted?

Designing for the assessment

The student must have knowledge of what is being assessed. Keep in mind that this should not be an extra checklist for the student. Is the task graded pass/fail or the entire grading scale A-F or are there different tasks corresponding to different grading levels.

Formulations in the wording of the assignment

Formulating an assignment so that it gives students the right idea of what is expected of them can be difficult. A help can be to use verbs connected to the higher levels of Bloom's revised taxonomy ( , such as the levels "Analyze" or "Evaluate". The links below leads you to examples of active verbs categorised after Bloom's revised taxonomy:

Wordings to avoid cheating

Below, the following recommendations for counteracting cheating through the wording of the assignment are described:

  • Future workrelated tasks
  • Current events
  • Different approaches and solutions
  • Variation of the same assignment
  • Time limit
  • Vary the context
  • Ask for your own reasoning
  • Use Ouriginal for written assignments

Future workrelated tasks

A good way to design the examination is to think about how the student will work with the subject when they have complete their studies. Such examinations not only prepares the student better for work but is also usually more difficult to cheat on. Few work tasks can be solved with cheating.

Current events

Base assignments on information from current events, it makes it more difficult for the student to find someone else's old solution.

Different approaches and solutions

If during an examination it is desired that all students should work with exactly the same assignment, it is good if the assignment can be tackled in several different ways. Assignments with several possible approaches and solutions are more difficult to cheat on. Inform the students that there are several solutions so that they are aware that it is strange if all students has done exactly the same solution.

Variation of the same assignment

Letting students have different variations of the same assignment can also be a good idea for helping the student not to cheat. Let the main question be the same but vary the details, for example vary which building is to be analyzed or whether it is Pelle or Stina that the question is about. The values ​​can be varied for each student by, for example, basing the values ​​on the students' date of birth or with the help of random values ​​in a quiz or if the task does not concern values, questions can be randomized to the students with the help of Item banks. On the page Examination with random values , you can read about different ways of varying mathematical assignments.

Time limit

Limit the time students have to work on the assignments. Think about what suits the question, a few hours or several days. A time limit affects both the scope of the students' work and their opportunities to take illicit help.

Vary the context

Put the question in a specific context. For example, that the solution to the problem should be presented as it would be present to the project manager, the boss, a younger sibling. etc. This reduces the student's ability to search for a complete solution. To vary a specific assignment, students may have the same task but are asked to report "for different people".

Ask for your own reasoning

Calculations should be commented on in the student's own words. Although a calculation should look the same for a group of students, the student's description of the calculation should vary as they use their own words. Commenting assignments also helps the student to carefully check the calculation when it is complete and consolidate the knowledge by processing the assignment a second time in an alternative way.

Use Ouriginal for written assignments

A recommendation is also that, if the submissions consist of computer-written text, link them to Ouriginal (new name for Urkund) in order to quickly get an initial review of the students' work.

Ouriginal review in Canvas and standalone

Guiding students away from plagiarism

Presenter: Carl-Mikael Zetterling (professor at EECS, KTH), 2020-05-19. This webinar was held in English.

This webinar presents a six step strategy for deterring students from plagiarism. The strategy is described in the book “Guiding students away from plagiarism” (Carroll, Zetterling, 2009). You can find the whole book as a PDF via Diva and the short link . The webinar discusses some ways to design assessment tasks that discourage copy-paste plagiarism and other cheating. There is also a recorded resource in KTH Play for students called "Avoiding plagiarism" which you may include in your courses, for example by linking to it on Canvas. To include the film, go to and search for the channel titled "Avoiding Plagiarism". 

Go to KTH Play for access to presentation material:
Guiding students away from plagiarism (KTH Play)

Contact and support for examination

Do you have questions about examination? There are contact persons for planning and coordinating examinations at each school, and you can also get help with digital arrangements from E-learning.

Contacts for examination