15 November 2009

Student Cheating in CMS

Do students tend to cheat more when they write exams or quizzes using online course management systems (CMS) like WebCT or Blackboard? Not according to Charlesworth et al. (2006). They did a survey on 178 students and asked them first their definitions of cheating, and their main reasons to cheat in a typical classroom. Most students define cheating as copying or taking answers from others, and their major reasons for cheating include, in order of importance: 1) laziness, 2) grades, 3) pressure to do well and not fail, 4) lack of knowledge, and lastly, 5) opportunity. Given that students are not the best in making proper assessment of themselves, I am not sure if this list accurately ordered. Here is how I would re-interpret this list. As noted in the paper, "[m]any students report lengthy study sessions yet realize incomplete understanding due to factors such as poor study skills and lack of knowledge. As a result, students may feel unprepared for quizzes and examinations, and seek alternative methods to ensure success." If students do not grasp the material (i.e. lack of knowledge (4)), they feel pressured to succeed (3) to obtain good grades (2), but since hard work is difficult, some may give up, and blame it on their laziness (1), and given the right opportunity (5) to cheat, they would do so.

It is also interesting to note from the paper that students whose GPA is between 2.4 - 3.0 are more likely to cheat on written assignments. However, the study does not show that a web-enhanced course automatically increase the amount of cheating.


Charlesworth, P., Charlesworth, D., Vician, C. (September 2006). Students' Perspectives of the Influence of Web-Enhanced Coursework on Incidences of Cheating. Journal of Chemical Education. 83(9), pp 1368 - 1375.

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