Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to Cheat on Blackboard!

This section is called, "How to Cheat on Blackboard", but it should be titled "How to Minimize Cheating on Blackboard". 
This summer, I started giving face-to-face tests on (our university's content management system) using the assessment tool. This new tool has proven itself to be very effective in my classroom. This is the first time that many of my students have taken a blackboard test in one of their classes.
  1. Walk around the classroom while students are taking the test.
  2. Show the students' answers and the correct answers at the end of the test. This helps the students learn which test questions they answered correctly and which questions they answered incorrectly. My students enjoy this feature. 
  3. Provide the students with a test time frame. This prevents the students from accessing the questions and answers later. 
  4. Provide a test question database for each course test (i.e. - 50 questions). Then make blackboard randomly select questions (i.e. - 25 questions) from your test question database (i.e. - 50 questions). This feature serves as another anti-cheating mechanism.
I hope this helps!

-Millennial Professor


  1. I wish all the instructors using Blackboard for assessments would follow your advice. I have witnessed students working together on assessments, side-by-side on computers in the library. I just hope they are assignments where it is OK to work together, but I'm guessing they're not.

  2. Thank you Amanda. It seems that every time I administer a blackboard test, I think of new ways that students can cheat. Please contribute some more "anti-cheating" mechanisms if you think of some more!


  3. I think
    - randomizing the questions out of a larger test question database,
    - randomizing the order of the answers (if it's multiple choice) for each question,
    - setting a reasonable (but not too long) time limit to complete the assessment, and,
    - as you suggested in an earlier post, informing the students that you could see when two students or more took the examination at the same time,
    will help minimize cheating.

  4. Jennifer, some more follow-up on this. I was asked to take over teaching a course this first summer term and thanks to this post, I will be giving the final exam on Blackboard. They will come to the library's classroom for the test so I can monitor, and CITDE showed me how to set it up to randomize the order of the questions (I'll just have one question database set, since it's the final), and randomize the order of the appearance of the multiple choices. I was going to limit the time to one hour (even though there is a two hour window for the exam - they either know the material, or they don't, and it's all multiple choice, matching, and true/false).

    I was also going to have them leave all their cell phones/Blackberrys/etc. on a table in front and pick them up as they leave. Any other advice or suggestions would be appreciated!

  5. Amanda - This sounds like a great idea! Which course are you finishing?

    Now, I actually sit in the back of the classroom between two students and I monitor their progress and their "scholarly abilities". This actually works very well. Beware, the last computer on the back row (by the door) does not work properly sometimes.

    I do not allow the students to see the questions they missed or answers they submitted on their computer. If I did enable them to see their answers, they would be able to print the answers in the main computer lab in the library or somewhere else on campus. If the students wish to see their answers, they can view them from my computer (in the back of the classroom).

    If I think of anything else, I will definitely let you know. Good luck!


  6. Jennifer, I am finishing the Introduction to Children's Literature class because the professor became ill.

    I had thought I would let them see the questions they missed or the answers they submitted, but I hadn't thought about them being able to print that information out later. That would make it a little too easy to provide a copy of the test questions and answers to future students in this course. That makes me wonder too if there might already be a copy of the Spring 09 exam floating around - it came out of a bank of questions the professor provided me. Hmmm, might have to come up with a few questions of my own to spice up the mix.

    I will e-mail you privately with some other questions.

  7. the problem is, even if you make us come into the exam room, show ID, leave our cell phones, randomize the questions, have a tight time frame, We can discreetly log out, have someone else log in as us during that time frame from another location, answer whatever quesitons we need, then we can log back in from the test room, save and submit our test, and voila the useless grammar exam is passed. ;)

  8. True, however I administer the test in a small computer lab and I keep the "currently logged in" screen on blackboard open at all times and I can see when someone logs off and logs back on to blackboard and how long they spend on each test question.

    When someones does log off, I walk over to them to figure out what is going on. Usually it is a computer problem.

    Thanks for the feedback! This helps!

    J. Edwards

  9. Sounds like you need to spend a lot more time actually teaching and a lot less time worrying about cheating. Your posts make you seem insecure, paranoid, and self righteous. I have news for you, life is what you make of it, and you only live once. If you continue to spend energy worrying about how students may, or may not cheat, you are taking away from time you can, and should, be spending helping students that actually want to learn.

  10. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for your post! :) Maybe I am (as are most professors), insecure, paranoid, and self righteous. If a professor does not have at least (if not all three) of these qualities, they might be too self-assured and less willing to change or correct any aspect of their teaching, research, and/or service. I understand that your post is anonymous, could you please let me know who you are? Maybe I can learn from YOU and the wonderful ways that you approach your college classroom! :)

  11. Let everybody see the answers, no time frame, no time limit, no lockouts, there is no need to be on the same room when taking the exams, just make super hard questions that the entire class cant answer easily. The sutdents that really know the answers will work in small groups with people that studied for the exam, the students who are lazy and dont read anything will not be invited when answering the exam in group.


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