Student Success v. Risk of Cheating

Another semester is coming to a close as finals week is upon us. My busyness this time of year is pretty hit and miss; it just depends what’s going on. Serving as a Blackboard administrator and the “go-to” person for such questions, I either hear from several people or virtually no one around finals time. This year it seems as though I’ve had more calls on the subject of cheating and how to prevent it in Blackboard.

For those of you who don’t know, Blackboard allows instructors to release student feedback so the students can review previous quizzes, tests, exams, etc. The feedback options allow for an instructor to select whether students see a question or not as well as correct, selected or all possible answers.

Instructors are concerned that by providing this information, the integrity of the course could be compromised both in preparation for the final and for future semesters.  On one hand. you want the students to be able to have the correct information to study; on the other hand, current students could pass the information on to future students. As much as I want to believe every student is a “good” student, there are those students who are going to cheat. Given that mentality, it’s our role as instructors to maintain the integrity of our final and our course to the best of our abilities.

As an instructor, you have to identify what your concerns are and how you can prevent them from happening. On the other side of the spectrum, you have to ask yourself what you can do to help your students be successful.

Although, when it comes to cheating, I still struggle to find the balance between helping students succeed while limiting how much cheating can occur.  For me, I try to ask myself what would happen in the “real world” or outside a classroom setting. What can I do that will benefit them the most when they leave this class? If I do “X”, what are the possible consequences? Every time, my thoughts still go back to the mentality that “students are going to cheat.”

For those of you who may be struggling with the same thing, I hope I’ve given you a new perspective on things. For those of who you have more experience in how to handle this, I welcome your comments about your experiences and your advice.

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