By Daniel Coats ’15,’18
Consistent with the college’s commitment to providing trendsetting perspectives, insights and solutions, two Cal State Fullerton business faculty – Gerard Beenen, professor of management and Sinjini Mitra, professor of information systems – recently co-authored an award-winning conference paper, “Deterring Cheating Online: Passive versus Active Proctoring through a Social Facilitation Lens.” The focus is to explore motivational mechanisms that may help schools can stay ahead of the curve to keep learning honest in our era of technology and remote learning.
Through a rigorous peer review process, this paper, which will be presented at the 2023 Academy of Management (AOM) in Boston, was selected by the AOM Management Education and Development (MED) Division to receive the MED Best Paper in Management Education and Development Award.
After collecting additional data, Beenen and Mitra plan to submit their research to a highly ranked peer-reviewed journal.
Academic Honesty in the Post-Pandemic Era
According to the CSUF researchers, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed students and faculty into the online learning environment, colleges and universities around the world, experienced surges in academic dishonesty among students.
“The global pandemic disrupted educators’ testing routines by forcing them to rely on remotely administered exams,” the professors write.
“Given the potential for cheating in online exams…it is important to identify strategies to mitigate academic dishonesty for online assessments. To our knowledge, this is the first research to examine potential differences in student cheating motivations, intentions and behaviors for a continuum of passively to actively proctored exams.”
The Rx for the Cheating Epidemic in the 2020s
Online exams are here to stay, but there are still ways for professors to minimize cheating, which in turn not only supports best academic practices, but also maintains testing integrity.
Reminding test-takers of their commitments to honor codes, requiring webcams during exams and making salient the monitoring abilities available to instructors are examples of interventions that may minimize academic dishonesty in a remote test-taking environment.
Digital tools that flag suspicious behavior for an instructor to review later on, also were factored into the study by Beenen and Mitra.
Of course, nothing is as effective as a physical proctor being present during an in-person exam, but today’s professors have the tools needed to ensure a reasonable degree of accountability for online tests.
Beenen and Mitra define a continuum ranging from passive to active proctoring to discourage cheating in online modalities: “For an online exam, passive proctoring entails computer- mediated monitoring of the exam by an instructor with students required to video stream themselves during the exam, while the instructor is present as an unobtrusive proctor who monitors the exam remotely without a video stream visible to students. That is, students are aware they are being monitored by an unseen proctor during the exam. At the same time, the proctor has little to no control over the test-taker’s computer,” they report.
“An active approach to proctoring an online exam entails computer-mediated monitoring of the exam by a dedicated proctor who has remote real-time access and control over a student’s computer while monitoring the exam with a video stream. That is, students are aware they are being monitored during the exam, they can see the proctor, and they know the proctor can control their computer remotely including access to other online information. In other words, for an online exam, passive proctoring entails an invisible ‘virtual’ proctor, while active proctoring entails a visible proctor with a higher degree of control over the test-taker’s computer.”
Their paper included two studies. For the first study, Beenen and Mitra sampled 86 Cal State Fullerton management students in different sections of an organizational behavior course and found that academic dishonesty appeared to be less likely in conditions of active versus passive proctoring.
The actively proctored group used a commercial proctoring service in which a live proctor deployed remote software tools to control students’ computers and visibly monitor their online behavior during the exam.
The passively proctored group was monitored by an invisible instructor though Zoom. The instructor didn’t have access to student computers, but the name of the instructor appeared on screen during the test and students were made aware of academic honesty norms and why they should be followed.
As follow up, the second study asked 156 students to self-report which approaches along a spectrum of passive to active proctoring would motivate them to avoid dishonest behaviors. Consistent with study one results, active proctoring approaches were more effective potential deterrents than passive approaches. The strongest motivational mechanisms for deterring academic dishonesty were self-awareness (highlighting the discrepancy between dishonest behavior and an honest “ideal self”) and evaluation apprehension (highlighting awareness of being monitored).
This study by Beenen and Mitra is among the first to explore the outcomes and motivations of passive versus active proctoring on academic honesty in the post-COVID era.