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Updated report! - Promoting learning and preventing cheating

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Published Apr 17, 2023

Different forms of examination from those to which teachers and examiners are accustomed and the impact of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT have meant that the issue of security against cheating in the assessment of student performance has become more topical than ever. As examination is part of a complex interaction between course objectives, teachers and students, a constructive dialogue on cheating should be conducted among both teachers and students. The intention of this text is to encourage such a dialogue. The text has been produced by a sub-group of the PriU Assessment and Examination Group. A fuller version of the group's conclusions and reasoning can be found in [1].

Updated report

In the updated report, an annex on generative AI tools and cheating has been added and changes have been made primarily to the sections on disciplinary measures and key concepts. In preparing the update, the working group met with the administrative lawyers at KTH.

The will to learn

The starting point of the group's work has been that everyone (students and teachers alike) wants to and can contribute to a culture characterised by the will to learn. This means that proactive pedagogical efforts should be the focus rather than controlling and disciplinary measures to minimise cheating. Cheating is a complex problem and, like Sindre [2], we have identified four categories of action: cultural, disciplinary, pedagogical and control. We have further divided the categories into three different levels: student level, teacher level and institution level. To address the risk of cheating, an appropriate combination of these different measures is needed.

Let us first briefly describe the different categories of measures. A more detailed list of the different practical measures can be found in the table below.

Cultural

The starting point is that students at KTH want to learn and take responsibility for their own learning and that teachers at KTH are good role models who can constructively discuss issues of cheating with students. Both students, teachers and KTH are therefore expected to contribute to a culture of learning where cheating is not acceptable. KTH as a higher education institution also has a responsibility to develop, ensure and maintain this culture of learning.

Disciplinary

The Higher Education Ordinance does not mention the word cheating. Instead, it states that disciplinary action may be taken against students who "use unauthorised means or otherwise attempt to mislead in examinations or in any other assessment of academic performance". In order to be able to take disciplinary actions, it is required that it is possible to both prove that the student did not follow the rules and that these were known to the student. It is therefore not only from an educational perspective that it is important to clearly state which rules apply, but also from a legal one.

Pedagogical

Reducing cheating is strongly linked to course design and teaching pedagogy. When students know what they are expected to learn in the course, how this relates to their current level of knowledge and how the examination is conducted, the risk of cheating is reduced. Clarity and simplicity about what apply in examinations also reduces cheating. It is therefore natural that the examiner in the course carefully reflects on how the formative and summative moments are designed to create clarity for the students.

Control

Conducting only individual examinations in a highly controlled environment (e.g., oral examination or lecture hall examination) where opportunities for cheating are limited limits KTH's ability to effectively examine students. Checks for cheating should be carried out wherever possible and appropriate, but the requirements for checking functions may vary depending on the examination task. However, individual examination in a controlled environment should take place at strategically relevant points in the programme, given the educational context.

Appendix 1: Overview of measures to reduce cheating

From literature and our own experience, we have compiled a series of measures to prevent, deter and detect cheating. These measures have been categorised into Sindre's four categories: cultural, disciplinary, pedagogical and control. The matrix below summarises the measures and the responsibilities of the student, the teacher, and the institution respectively in relation to them.

Actions Student Teacher Institution
1. cultural

Find out your rights and obligations.

Read and follow the ethical guidelines and code of honour.

Contribute to a culture of learning where cheating is not okay. It is the student's responsibility not to cheat.

Communicate the honor code.

Be a good example yourself.

Explain the rules that apply to examinations.

Contribute to a culture of learning where cheating is not okay.

Show commitment to student learning.

Focus on supporting students in their learning. Identify where in the programme individual examination in a controlled environment is strategically important.

Introduce a common honours code for the whole of KTH.

Organise activities such as reflection seminars on cheating prevention at programme level.
2. Disciplinary

Find out what is allowed and what is not allowed at examinations.

Know the consequences of attempted misleading.

Provide the necessary information for the examination and, if necessary, introduce a question on rule knowledge.

In case of reasonable suspicion of attempted misleading, always report this to the president.

Have knowledge of how the process for disciplinary matters works, what reasonable suspicion of attempted misleading means and why it is important to report.

Provide clear and targeted information about the process for disciplinary matters.

Create the conditions for handling disciplinary matters effectively.

Notice that there are ethical guidelines for KTH in each syllabus.

Develop more comprehensive guidelines for examination and examination supervision.

3. Pedagogical

Find out how the knowledge will be useful in later courses or in your professional life.

Read the examination instructions carefully. Point out to the teacher if anything is unclear.

Take an active part in teaching, even in non-compulsory activities.

Be clear about the aids that may be used and the cooperation that is allowed in each examination.

Have a clear constructive link in the course.

Write clear grading criteria and communicate these to students.

Show the purpose of the course and where the knowledge will be useful.

Design the examination to encourage learning, not cheating.

Construct original assignments.

Individualize assignments.

Provide new assignments each course offering.

Ensure that there is a wide variety of examination formats within each programme.

Disseminate good examples of examinations that promote learning and prevent cheating.

4. Control

- preventing cheating

- detecting cheating

Check carefully what aids may be used and what cooperation is allowed in each examination and make sure you follow these rules.

Do not contribute to cheating by providing unauthorised assistance or making available solutions to an examination in progress.

Use oral (partial) reports with ID check.

Plagiarism check assignments.

Group assignments should also have elements of individual examination.

Ensure that assessing teachers and assistants keep in touch during the assessment process and discuss suspected cases of plagiarism and unauthorised collaboration.

Ensure that simple and effective control mechanisms are available to teachers, such as plagiarism checking tools, exam invigilators, support for authentication and ID control.

Provide support to the notifier of suspected attempt to mislead in processing results from control tools so that the documentation is appropriate.

Reference

[1] Naimi-Akbar, I., Björn, C., Kann, V., Hurdelbrink, C., Andersson, M., Hjelm, N., & Carlsund Levin, N. Att främja lärande och förebygga fusk. Intern rapport, KTH. You can read the full report here Promoting learning and preventing cheating (pdf 497 kB)

[2] Sindre, G. (2021). Kan fusk på hjemmeeksamen forhindres?. Nordic Journal of STEM Education 5(1), MTN konferensen 2021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5324/njsteme.v5i1.3918

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Last changed: Apr 17, 2023