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We recently held online midterm exams at my institution, where I am a manager. (We were forced online just before the exams.) The exams included a range of subjects, and were typically less than 2 hours.

There are indications of cheating (e.g. exam scores much higher than offline performance, answers that seem to be copied from each other, etc.). So I am planning to send the following message to the students:

During the next few days, some students will be informed by subject teachers that there is indication of academic dishonesty in their midterm exam. The student will have the option of responding to the teacher's message to schedule a confidential teacher-student video interview of approximately 15 minutes, in which the teacher will determine whether the student's exam score is reliable. If the student schedules and passes the interview, then their midterm exam score will be accepted. Otherwise, their midterm exam score will not be counted in their semester grade, and their final exam grade will count as both their midterm exam and final exam grade. If the student would like to know details about the indication of academic dishonesty, these can be discussed after the interview.

During the video interview, the students will be given oral questions about the topics covered on the midterm exam, to assess whether their exam score is reliable.

Question: Is this fair?

As far as school policy: Before the midterm exams, the students were given a set of rules and consequences about the midterm exams: camera and microphone activated, hands visible, etc. But these rules cannot completely prevent cheating. (A student's hand could be briefly off-camera, and it would be unreasonably harsh to give them an automatic zero for that.)

My motivation for doing this, is to protect (as much as possible) the honest students from being disadvantaged by their honesty.

UPDATE

I decided not to do the follow-up interviews, because they are not in the school policies. (If they were in the school policies, then they would have been fair, to the extent that standard anti-cheating policies are fair.)

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    I have edited out the information that this is pertaining to a highschool. Highschool education is off-topic here, but everything else about the question seems to be equally applicable to university education.
    – Arno
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 23:08
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    Long ago, I typically got results slightly above median in my results. When the crucial external exams came I studied far more than usual. The success metric used was top four subject gross score. I topped the class. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 11:49
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    In my university, there is an explicit rule that allows the teacher to do an oral exam to any student, after the written exam. This does not require the teacher to blame the student for cheating. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 19:38
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    @ScottishTapWater What if a student gets help from friends, or uses the internet?
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 22:04
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    @Dan: That’s still not a punishment for cheating. It’s only negating the benefit of cheating. It’s the equivalent of making a thief return what they stole and nothing else. Sure the thief doesn’t like to return this, but the net cost of thievery is still clearly non-negative (and most likely positive because you won’t catch the thief all the time). Also see my answer.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 6:24

10 Answers 10

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Question: Is this fair?

No. What would be fair is for you to assign grades based on the grading policy described in your course syllabus, and based on your university's general policies — nothing more or less. I assume that subjecting students to a mandatory post-exam interview that puts their exam grade at risk of cancelation based on your arbitrary decision that their interview answers are not consistent with their written exam performance is not a grading methodology that is either described in your syllabus or condoned by your university's policies. Hence, it is not fair and not reasonable.

If you have evidence that a student cheated, you should deal with it according to your university's standard procedures for dealing with academic misconduct (for example, at my university that would mean referring the student to our Student Judicial Affairs office, giving them the evidence and letting the office handle it from there). The evidence would either be strong enough to find the student guilty of misconduct and mete out a grade penalty or other disciplinary consequence, or it wouldn't be. In the latter case, you're out of luck — as strong as your suspicions may be based on vague "indications of academic dishonesty", you have to grade the student based on their exam performance and nothing else.

My motivation for doing this, is to protect (as much as possible) the honest students from being disadvantaged by their honesty.

This is noble and commendable, but irrelevant to the question of whether your approach is fair.

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    @Dan “almost certain” is a far higher level of certainty than what you need to punish students for misconduct. In the United States you typically need to find the student guilty of cheating according to a “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof. So again, the standard university procedure should be all you need in such a case. And if you can’t meet the standard of proof that your university requires, then yes, obviously you’ll just have to live with it.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 5:14
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    OK, but "preponderance" could be very subjective and thus problematic. I signed up to be a teacher, not a lawyer :( Anyway, I appreciate your input.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 5:29
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    @Dan "I signed up to be a teacher, not a lawyer": This is exactly why many universities have offices like Dan Romik referred to, so that the people employed there can make those subjective, problematic judgements, and teachers don't have to. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 16:48
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    What if the possibility of conducting interviews like this "at the discretion of the examiners" is mentioned in the syllabus, but it's very rarely used? (This is the case for several degree programmes at the University of Cambridge, for example.) Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 17:23
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    @DanielHatton if it’s mentioned in the syllabus, and isn’t disallowed by university policies, then it sounds reasonably fair. At least, while I can think of some theoretical objections, in some situations it would be appropriate and reasonable, and in any case if it’s allowed and the students were given fair notice that it could happen then it’s hard to criticize the instructor for doing it.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 18:11
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This is a fraught situation.

Is this fair?

I think you know it is not completely fair. For example, consider a not-so-far-fetched student named Bob. Bob isn't doing very well in your class, so he works hard and gets an A on the midterm. But precisely because his grade is so high, he gets this e-mail from you. During the interview, he's nervous and can't think clearly and has forgotten some of what he learned. So, you tell Bob that his A was "unreliable" and so you will not be accepting it. Bob really got screwed here: you have called him a cheater (even though you're not prosecuting him for cheating), and all his excellent work is for naught.

My motivation for doing this is to protect...the honest students from being disadvantaged....

So now we come to the real question: is this fair enough? In other words, are the downsides of this scheme outweighed by the advantages? I say no. I understand your willingness to accept a few false positives or false negatives if your scheme works most of the time. If this were a research dataset, it might be a good idea. But since this is essentially a judicial process, the burden of proof is much higher. If students cheat on an exam despite your reasonable countermeasures, that does not reflect poorly on you, whereas falsely accusing students of cheating absolutely reflects poorly on you, even if most of your accusations are correct.

So how do you protect the honest students from being disadvantaged? The exam design itself. Perhaps you give all students different questions, or a different subset of the questions. Perhaps you change the numbers in each student's version. Perhaps you can avoid exams altogether in favor of projects. Perhaps you can make this oral interview a part of the exam, rather than something that's done after-the-fact in an arbitrary way. Most of these solutions entail more work for you, but they are likely to cause fewer problems in the long run.

Edit: For more on my reasoning, see my related answer here. In particular, my assertion about the burden of proof is based on the fact that OP is inventing this procedure after the fact and is playing both judge and jury. On the other hand, if OP's institution's policies already endorse this investigative procedure, then my answer would change considerably.

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    Of course not: cheating has been a cat-and-mouse game for centuries, no one here has the secret to changing that reality. All you can do is design the game in a way as to make cheating as inconvenient and detectable as is possible given your constraints and resources.
    – cag51
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 2:20
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    @Dan I did most of my BSc during the COVID online era, and one thing that always worked against cheating was time. The classes where nobody cheated had exams where time was so tight that nobody had time to search up online answers or class materials. Combine that with camera+mic and then the students can't be in a call with each other either. That's probably your best way to avoid cheating, still won't filter our 100% of them (ppl could send their exam to outsiders to solver while pretending to do it themselves on camera -> randomly ask students to screen share during the exam, to scare some
    – JohnFire
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 9:23
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    @JohnFire Well, it was what one of my professors did, and despite being an honest student myself, I absolutely despised it. Unlike the exams that I used to have while in high school, the university exams demanded more thinking from me, and the exams were designed with time so tight that it almost became impossible for me to answer it, unless I have already solved the question earlier, or somehow memorized it before. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 9:55
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    One could argue that if the example "Bob" student did not know the material before the exam and also did not know the material shortly after the exam, an A is not the grade that best reflects his learning outcome... but of course, this is irrelevant to the question because fairness requires that the rules not be changed in the middle of the game based on unproven suspicions.
    – wimi
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 14:24
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    'since this is essentially a judicial process, the burden of proof is much higher' Most universities here in the UK now officially have a balance-of-probabilities standard of proof for assessment offences. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 17:08
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After the online teaching and online exam experiences that the covid pandemic has forced upon the world, I, as a teacher who has grappled with similar issues, have strongly affirmed the conclusion that I held even before the pandemic: it is impossible to certify that students do not cheat when doing online exams. The numerous "tips" given to try to minimize cheating usually cannot prevent a dedicated cheater (e.g., scrambling questions). Even worse, not only do they fail to prevent dedicated cheating, but many of these tips stress out honest students to the point that they perform worse than they would without such artificial restrictions (e.g., reducing time for the exam to give less opportunity to cheat). Personally, I have chosen to draw the line there: I refuse to apply any "anti-cheating" measure that unnecessarily stresses out honest students, and I am willing to accept online cheating as a consequence.

I have reconciled myself to the accept the following:

  • Only an in-person exam with human surveillance provides the highest confidence of cheating prevention. (This includes computer-based exams with secured computers: they still need human surveillance.)
  • When an in-person exam with human surveillance is impossible (e.g., because of covid safety restrictions), then we teachers are unable to certify the honesty of any exams we administer. That is covid's fault, not ours.
  • In that case, then as a teacher, my responsibility is to do my best to give the students the best learning experience possible with a course adapted for online delivery. It is possible to give them the full learning experience despite online restrictions.
  • With this scenario, the students who seriously and honestly want to learn can receive their full-quality learning experience. However, we cannot certify their learning with a grade (that is, with the dubious assumption that grades are even able to certify learning). For students who are willing to cheat if they have the opportunity, then covid gives them the opportunity. Whether and how much they learn is their responsibility, not ours.

So, for your situation, I recommend that you do not risk falsely accusing any honest student of cheating and simply accept that with online restrictions beyond your control, you are not able to prevent some students from cheating. Blame covid, not yourself.

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    I am not completely sure what you mean by scrambling questions, but in my experience, having tasks vary in multiple (!) aspects (actual numbers, variable names, order of choices, type of vehicle running over a cliff) is surprisingly effective to detect collaborators, the reason being that it’s quite difficult to copy a solution while paying attention to multiple things you need to change and cheaters overestimate their ability to do so. Mind that I am not under the illusion that this makes cheating impossible though and I pretty much share your philosophy on online exams.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 21:07
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    the other problem with time restrictions is that it's completely trivial for well-resourced students to get around that with a doctors note.
    – eps
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 22:54
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    @Wrzlprmft scrambling questions means shuffling the question order.
    – justhalf
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 4:55
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    @eps the converse problem with the "doctors note" is that many (most?) students who have a genuine disability that makes time pressure disproportionally punitive do not have a diagnosis or medical document, or may have not managed to navigate the University's accommodation system. Time pressure on exams rewards almost exclusively meta test-taking abilities (correctly picking the easiest questions, strategising effort to output efficiently etc) and certainly not depth of knowledge.
    – Ottie
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 11:46
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    @justhalf From my exams i remember one professor that used the student ID number as a variable input into the task (some were keyed to last digit odd or even, others used a specific digit of it). that way exams had differences automatically. Do a copypaste between neighbors and those cause a mismatch
    – masterX244
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 13:32
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Question: Is this fair?

No. Not only is it unfair, but it would be perfectly legitimate for a student to refuse such an interview and demand that, unless you have specific evidence of them cheating, you stick to your published grade derivation scheme.

The fact that some students may have cheated does not grant you the right to treat arbitrary students as criminals and subject them to interrogations.

If cheating on exams bothers you so much, avoid exams in which people can cheat, or avoid exams, or avoid giving out grades.

My motivation for doing this, is to protect (as much as possible) the honest students from being disadvantaged by their honesty.

Your motivation is inappropriate and invalid. It's invalid, because as mentioned above, you're hurting the students who did not cheat, not protecting them. If you think that ensuring a lower grade for cheaters "protects" non-cheaters - you're mis-identifying their interests.

Which brings me to the point about propriety. You're a teacher. Your motivation should be for students to learn, broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding and perceptive skills. Grades are an artifice of industrial mass processes, either in academia or in the commercial economy; and what numbers students get as grades should be of a secondary consideration to you - if at all.

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  • "...treat arbitrary students as criminals..." The students are not arbitrarily chosen; they are chosen because there is indication of cheating on their exam. "... or avoid giving out grades...“ I teach in the real world, not in Utopia. "... because as mentioned above, you're hurting the students who did not cheat..." I'm not sure what you're referring to here. "...and what numbers students get as grades should be of secondary consideration to you - if at all" Grades are of secondary consideration to me; they are of primary consideration to most students.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 23:06
  • @Dan "arbitrary" is because you have only suspicions, not evidence, that anyone in fact did cheat. And quite likely some honest students' exams will look suspicious, and it is those students who are getting hurt the most.
    – Esther
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 2:26
  • @Esther The problem is, how can we draw the line between "suspicion" and "evidence"? For example, if the exam is an essay response, and two students' essays are 99% identical, that's evidence of cheating, right? OK, what if they are 80% identical? 50%? 10%? Where do we draw the line?
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 3:03
  • @Dan it's an indication that cheating happened, but not necessarily of who cheated. Possibly one student was doing their best to be honest and the other student copied off of them without asking/being obvious about it.
    – Esther
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 3:10
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    "Grades are of secondary consideration to me; they are of primary consideration to most students." <- And it is part of the challenge we face as teachers, to help our students value the knowledge imparted and the learning process above the numbers. Or, at least, to alter the balance of their consideration in that direction. "I teach in the real world, not in Utopia" <- There are pass/fail courses in the real world. There are oral exams in the real world. Also in the real world, students might get you brought up on disciplinary charges for this kind of stunt.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 8:25
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I don't think you have a good likelihood of success with this or with other similar processes. You will have both false positives and false negatives in your analysis, being unfair to lots of people. Some who did well on the original (honestly) will do worse on a face to face interview if they think it is accusatory. Some who did poorly will do a bit more study. You don't have any control.

The problem is your methodology, not the students per se. Yes, some will cheat but you don't have an effective way to detect it or prevent it. Technology has blinded you to that fact. You don't actually have evidence, apparently, about any individual who cheated, nor any way to back it up. You have a "feeling". The solution is not to accuse everyone implicitly and make them prove their innocence. Some of your best students will be offended. It is likely to show up in course evaluations.

If your overall grading scheme is competitive in any way, such as curving, then you have already got an impossible situation.

My best suggestion is that you admit to yourself that you've made an error and just wipe the marks from the book altogether. You could give another exam under more reliable circumstances or find some project that students could do for some marks. I don't care for basing the entire grade on the final but that may be all you are left with.

You don't have to admit your error to the students, but you might want to give them a reason for wiping the marks, making everyone equal again. Discovering that the test was unreliable as a measure of learning is a good reason. If your grading isn't competitive, then this isn't really unfair to anyone. Yes, some will be disappointed that they still have to prove themselves, thinking they already had.


Let me add a personal note. As an undergraduate, long ago, I took a required course outside my math major. I found it very hard. There were five exams during the course. My grades, in order, were F, D, C, B, A. I worked very hard and made progress over the course, of course. Luckily for me the prof didn't just give me the average grade. Even better, he didn't question my honesty just because I improved.

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    Wiping the marks is unfair and likely a violation of policy as it significantly changes grading from the syllabus. If I were a student, I'd argue that you can't deviate from the syllabus, especially based on unproven suspicions. If somebody else cheated, you need to fully investigate and hold the cheaters accountable according to university policy, not give them a free pass while disadvantaging the people who were honest.
    – user71659
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:32
  • @Buffy Thank you. What error are you referring to? Giving an online exam? Is there an alternative that prevents inappropriate collaboration?
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:36
  • @Dan I think you need to specify what subject or kind of exam it is. Anti-cheat measures for, e.g. math vs English are very different.
    – user71659
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 1:39
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    "If your grading isn't competitive, then this isn't really unfair to anyone." - Wasting the students' time and discarding their work seems unfair to those who put in significant effort. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 9:32
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    @RutherRendommeleigh, students studying intensively isn't really "wasting their time" unless the purpose of the course is marks rather than learning. You don't "discard their work" (i.e. studying), only the, possibly invalid, marks.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 14:09
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I will focus on your mitigation measures here because the ship of exam design has already sailed in your case.

Your solution may sound adequate in theory, but I see some considerable problems in application, which also affect fairness. Some of these depend on the subject, how your student body is composed, etc., so you need to be your own judge whether they apply:

  • How related is your oral exam to the actual exam? One extreme would be to check whether the student can explain the solutions they submitted, but then that’s much more easy than coming up with the solutions and they can easily prepare for that. The other extreme would be to ask general questions on the subject (unrelated to the exam), but then you have an increased variability due to favourite topics, daily performance, nervousness due to the pending cheating accusation, etc. And I don’t see things becoming much better in the middle ground between those extremes.

  • In a related manner: Where do you draw the line for somebody’s exam score being not reliable? Letting somebody fail in a short oral exam is a tough decision to make. How will you decide when somebody is close to the threshold, because that will very likely happen? This is something you should clearly think about beforehand, and even then it might be very unreliable. By contrast, evidence of cheating can be very clear cut.

    Also consider how likely it is that any of your interviews will allow you to identify a cheater with reasonable certainty. If I would do something similar, I would expect that chance to be very low, to the extent that I would just avoid the hassle and rather spend my time on something else (e.g., finding solid evidence for cheating in the exams I have).

  • It appears that you only plan to annul the exam if you detect cheating. Retrospectively, this may be seen as validating cheating as a strategy. If you are a bad student at the time of the midterms, cheating in the midterms gives you a free shot to improve your grade. If you get detected, you either get a bad grade in the final exam (neither winning nor losing) or you get a better grade in the finals (because of learning better, luck, etc.). Either way, you can only win by cheating.

  • What about students who underperformed in your online exam, e.g., because they were under constant video surveillance (imagine doing an offline written exam, with the proctor standing right in front of you staring at you the entire time), apparently even with rules about where they could put their hands (some students will spend a considerable amount of their mental capacity on paying attention to this)? Could such students request an oral exam to annul their bad midterms? Or could they even benefit from retrospectively admitting to cheating, although they didn’t? Why have the midterm exams at all, if you only count them if they confirm your offline assessment (or are worse)? Why not use whatever your offline assessment is?

  • My motivation for doing this, is to protect (as much as possible) the honest students from being disadvantaged by their honesty.

    Unless you are grading on a curve, the main possible practical disadvantage to honest students will be that their degree or grade is devalued by being obtainable through cheating. Now, depending on the structure of said degree, cheating at one exam is not getting you the degree, but rather setting you up for bigger failure later (e.g., because you don’t have the prerequisites for more advanced courses). The problem only arises if a relevant part of your exams is online or if everybody gets the degree and it’s mostly about grades in written exams (which is problematic anyway).

    Mind that there are some potential group-psychology issues here if some people cheat and get away with it, but this is really for you to estimate and can be avoided by a clear statement that cheaters did not gain much and you want to avoid extra hurdles for the honest students.

I think in most cases, the only reasonably fair options are (minding that those may be horrible options for other reasons):

  • Only penalise those where you have clear evidence for cheating with the regular punishment for cheating at an exam (which is hopefully more than annulling the exam).
  • Annul the exam for everybody.
  • Make oral exams for everybody and have only those count.
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    Thank you, I think you make a lot of good points. As far as validating cheating as a strategy, at least there is the fact that many students will have to request confidential recommendation letters from instructors that speak to the students' integrity, so this may limit to what extent students try to game the system for good grades.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 11:18
  • Do recommendation letters make it any better? You only shift the problem from grade and degree to recommendation letters (which are after all only a symptom of a system where the degree and grade do not speak for themselves – due to grade inflation, etc.) Is it fair to refuse a recommendation or report cheating in one without allowing the student to react to accusations in due process or they performed badly in your oral degree-validation? Is it fair if a student has worse recommendations on account of performing badly in an online exam because of excessive but pointless security measures?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 12:06
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    Good questions. Institutions that students will be applying to sometimes ask teachers to assess the student's integrity with a tick box. How confident do I need to be that a student has or has not cheated, in order to tick anything other than "Do not know"?
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 13:52
  • I don't see how your first paragraph squares with your last one...
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 21:15
  • @einpoklum: And I fail to see your dissonance. In the first paragraph I basically state that I won’t talk about what the asker could have done better retrospectively (since they can’t turn back time). In the last one I talk about possible ways to progress in the situation at hand.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 6:51
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Frame challenge: why would you even care?

Mid-term exams are normally a guide to how well students are currently doing. They're just one of several assessment tools, albeit one which lets you put numbers to that assessment instead of just a "gut feel" in the classroom. But they aren't actually something which affects teaching or learning. Nor in most cases do they contribute anything to the student's final grade for the year.

So you screwed up and set them a test which they could maybe cheat on. It happens. There's no long-term consequences though, so suck it up and move on.

You've got the rest of the term to carry on teaching this module. If your gut feel tells you that the exam was unrepresentative of class progress so far, rely more on your gut feel for class progress when you're teaching the rest of the term. And when it comes to the next exams which do count towards their grades, you've learnt a useful lesson in what does and doesn't work.

If the midterm results do count towards their grades though, then of course some people have got a little boost they don't deserve. But then these results are just a small fraction of the final grade, and performance in future exams is going to bring their net result more in line with reality. Over the long term it's not going to help them that much.

But what's really not going to help is a witch hunt. At that point the entire class, to a student, will turn against you. Many students will lodge formal complaints, so your colleagues will also turn against you. If you're really unlucky, you may even get into trouble with whatever governing body oversees your exams or education system. There is literally no way this can end well for you or your institution. All for a crappy little midterm test which doesn't matter.

Why would you even consider this a hill to die on?

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    I care because the midterm exam is 30% of their semester grade. It seems like you're saying that setting "a test that they could maybe cheat on" means "screwed up". If you know of a cheat-proof online testing method, please share.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 13:17
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    @Dan So even they got 80% instead of 40%, for a totally incredible difference, that's only 12 percentage points up or down on the final grade. Enough to get them a B instead of a C, sure, but no more than that. In comparison, if you follow what you plan then the entire class will, guaranteed, hate your guts and you're guaranteed to put off their entire year group from choosing your subject ever again. So again, is that a hill you're prepared to die on?
    – Graham
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 21:17
  • @Dan And sure I can solve your exam problem. Every student turns their PC or phone camera on, and leaves it on for the duration of the exam, pointed at their face. How has this not occurred to anyone at your school in 3 years of working online?
    – Graham
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 21:23
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    @Graham it sounds like this is exactly what was done, and OP suspects cheating anyways (which is of course possible, since the students could have been in a chat program with classmates, using Google, using their phone out-of-frame, etc)
    – Esther
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 21:48
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This looks very much like preventing piracy in the media industry.

Using a harsh kind of DRM has an ill-fated design as it mostly only annoys honest consumers.

During the next few days, some students will be informed by subject teachers that there is indication of academic dishonesty in their midterm exam

That does not look fair to me. As the selection will always be tainted with your bias. It isn't humanly possible to do without. And you'll even think that you'll be more fair to honest students.

A fair way might be to tell your students upfront that there will be a survey of 30% randomly chosen students that will have an extra oral interview to explain their paper.

Therefore, each student will need to understand what they are writing, even when cheating. And that is the desired outcome anyway!

Just be sure to have a very provable non-biased random selection process, that you can show in case someone complains. After the fact, you don't even need to interview 30%, but a smaller number if time doesn't permit.

The fair idea being that every student shall have a reasonable doubt about being subject to be interviewed later.

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    I like the deterrence aspect of this approach, but requiring a random subset of the class to pass an oral exam in order to keep their written exam result doesn't strike me as "fair". It's like randomly choosing a runner in a race to wear a heavy backpack - "fair" in the sense that everyone had an equal chance to have the obstacle, but not so "fair" from the perspective of the person actually chosen. Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 16:39
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    Well.. to me it is as fair as the fact the exam itself is only a survey of all the knowledge of the program... And if it was me and a one off, i wouldn't even bother doing the oral Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 17:43
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As far as school policy: Before the midterm exams, the students were given a set of rules and consequences about the midterm exams: camera and microphone activated, hands visible, etc. But these rules cannot completely prevent cheating.

You were aware that the rules - as in place - cannot completely prevent cheating. Unless you have proof or at least a strong, reasonable suspicion ("They always had a bad grade, now they have a good one" is not enough - "Ten people wrote the same 100% identical sentences several times" probably is) to call a student you would be very unfair to them.

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It most certainly is not fair. If you think someone has done something against your schools policy you bring evidence forth and you give him/her a chance to defend him or herself in whatever tribunal your institution has for dealing with academic dishonesty. You don't have the right to expect people to prove there innocence to you.

It just seems like you want to make accusations but you have insufficient evidence so you want to fish for an admission of guilt. I hope you are willing to explain at the discrimination hearing that will inevitably follow why if you had evidence of misconduct why you did not use the appropriate channels that are there to deal with it.

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