Like many faculty, I am forced to give online exams for the first time this semester. (See I need help adapting my academic workflow to the COVID-19/coronavirus crisis – where do I start? for some related questions, though this question seems new.) I am being recommended to do various things like include an integrity pledge (honor code), make them timed, not use proctoring software, employ critical thinking questions, and make them open book. I plan to do the first 4, but my question is about the latter.

Namely, I have been thinking about various possibilities for what they are allowed to use for there exam. One could do any of the following, as well as some things in between: no resources, open book but nothing else, open book and personal notes and homeworks, open notes only, open book+notes+internet. I personally am leaning towards open book only. Now I can easily imagine that people would be more likely to cheat on a no resources exam versus open everything, and I imagine there are also differences compared to something like open book only. However, I have no idea to what extent there are differences (both in percentage of cheating and types of cheating), especially assuming things like time limits and honor codes.

Question: Have there been any studies about the differences in students' tendencies to cheat on non-proctored exams based on allowed resource materials?

I am not looking for personal speculation, but scientific studies, e.g., something like in this answer about a study on honor codes and cheating. I do not require the studies to include things like an honor code component, but it would be a plus. Even a basic study justifying universities' guidelines to make exams open book would be of interest.

  • 1
    Since you explicitly ask for research and not experience, I won't be able to help. Sorry.
    – Buffy
    Apr 8, 2020 at 14:29
  • My professor tested an open book exam some 30 years ago, anecdotal evidence but no paper produced so sorry.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 8, 2020 at 14:53
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    I don't know whether such research exists, but there are some difficulties. It would assume that you could reliably detect cheating, which is a rather difficult assumption to make. There are probably more ways to cheat than you could imagine. There is also the problem that the results might be affected simply by the personality of the instructor. Some are so loved and trusted that it would be less likely that the average student would be inclined to cheat. But there is no way to measure that effect that I could see. So, if you do find some research, make sure that the design is valid..
    – Buffy
    Apr 8, 2020 at 15:26


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