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  • Male student gazing into a desktop computer with a pen in hand.

    ChatGPT, YIKES!!!

    By Dr. Terri Moore

    Preventing cheating is a challenge we all face today given not only students’ ingenuity, but also the available student tools on the internet that publish tests and answers from many, many courses. And now there is... ChatGPT!!!

    Although it may be difficult to prevent cheating entirely, there are steps that can be implemented, reducing the impact of cheating for the student learning assessment process for online courses. 

    I’d like to share with you the practical tips I found from Northern Illinois’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. These tips may help reduce cheating for the two most common uses of online learning assessments, which are testing and homework assignments.

    Tips for testing – using learning management systems

    Purposefully select assessment methods

    Use online objective tests like multiple choice, multiple answer, true/false are best implemented for lower stakes assessing student learning. In fact, these types of quizzes are often best used as student self-checks in preparation for higher stakes assessments. 

    When assessing student mastery of course goals and objectives, objective tests may not be the best option considered among a range of methods. While an objective test can measure a student’s ability to recall or organize information, other methods are far preferable for assessing the higher order/critical thinking skills including understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

    Mix objective and subjective questions

    Online testing using multiple choice, multiple answer, true/false, fill in the blank might be a part of a summative assessment of mastery that also includes short answer or essay questions. 

    These types of questions are more subjective in nature and demand a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Consider questions that allow students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills with the application of principles learned for unique situations. While mixing objective and subjective questions does not stop information sharing, it can limit the impact on the student’s final grade.

    Create your own question pools

    Rather than using a fixed number of items that remain unchanged for each administration of the test, consider creating a question pool using any institution’s learning management tools.

    Group questions by any number of criteria including topic, subject matter, question type or difficulty of the question. I would also suggest grouping questions according to the learning outcome associated with the question. 

    A pool will generate an assessment with randomized questions selected by the faculty member. Pools can be created from new questions or those in existing tests or pools. Pools are most effective when there are large numbers of questions in one particular group. For example, one might have a pool of true/false questions, another of multiple choice and a third for fill in the blank. 

    You might create an assessment drawing a specific number of questions from each of those pool categories. Faculty can also add new questions to pools each time the course is taught to expand the variability of questions. Conversely, older questions can be removed. 

    Randomize questions

    When creating a test using a learning management system, you are often given the option to randomize the selection of test questions as well as the order in which they appear. The benefit is that students are unlikely to get the same questions in the same sequence when taking a test. 

    This strategy addresses the issue of students who take a test at the same time in order to share answers. This is also relevant if faculty allows students to repeat the test. Each time this occurs, a test will be made up of questions that are randomly selected and ordered.

    Limit feedback

    When possible, you should limit what types of feedback are displayed to students upon completion of a test. Providing test scores is important feedback that indicates how well students have performed and should be made available. However, through a process of elimination, students may be able to determine the correct answer for each test question if their submitted answers are identified as incorrect. Or if the correct answer is provided.

    Students could lose the incentive to both prepare for testing or to seek correct answers by reviewing lecture notes, assigned readings, or through a group discussion after completing tests. Thus, faculty might reconsider whether to include ‘Submitted Answers’ as an option to be displayed to students. 

    This is especially relevant if faculty have allowed students to repeat tests. Each time a test was taken, students could attempt a different answer for a test question that was previously graded as incorrect. Correct answers to all test questions could eventually be accumulated and passed on to other students, or to students of future classes. Or answers could be posted to some online site where students can access exams from a vast number of courses and subjects.

    Set timer

    We have to recognize that students taking an unproctored exam are free to use open book/notes. So you might decide to use time limits if allowed in the learning management system. Students who adequately prepared for a test may well be less likely to rely on open book/notes compared with students unprepared for testing. By setting a test with an expected completion time, unprepared students could have the most to lose as they spend time going over material, and risk not having sufficient time to respond to all the test questions.

    Display questions one-at-a-time

    If a test has more than 5 questions, do not choose the ‘All at Once’ option for displaying all the questions on the same screen. It is quite easy for students to take a screen capture of the displayed questions and share them with other students. While students can still screen capture pages with single questions, or even type them into a document, it is more time consuming and unwieldy.

    Tips for homework assignments: assessing student progress and mastery

    Create application assignments

    Create assignments that require students to apply essential course concepts to a relevant problem. This encourages students to seek relevant information beyond the assigned readings and lectures and conduct independent research by identifying credible sources to support the development of their assignments. 

    Students can be required to report their progress on a regular basis through email, or through the journaling assignments offered in any Revel titles. This documentation makes it easier for faculty to see the development of a student’s work from inception to completion. In addition, it may possibly identify unexplained gaps that could occur if students used the work of others and claimed it as their own. 

    Faculty can add input at any point in this process to provide guidance, and perhaps suggest new directions for students. Both documentation of progress through regular status reporting and occasional faculty input can add a greater level of scrutiny to students. This can make it more difficult to pass off the work of others as their own. I use this method in my psychology courses by using my learning management system’s Discussion Forums. I require responses that use proper APA and documentation as well as student to student comments.

    Create group assignments

    Create group assignments that require students to interact with group members regularly. Groups can be made responsible for determining the functional roles for each member, establishing a mechanism for accountability (i.e., submitting weekly progress reports), and sharing drafts of individual progress on a group project. For a project to be truly collaborative, each group member should be familiar with everyone else’s work, and be able to describe how every group members’ contribution supports the whole group assignment. 

    Students who are using the work of others may not be able to adequately describe the significance of their ‘own’ work, or how it contributes to the group’s overall project. Group projects for me have been improved with online students using the Revel tool, Shared Media. I’m able to group students and have them submit a shared document or recording for evaluation. 

    Create assignments that require presentations

    Conduct asynchronous online assignments for class presentations. This is easily accomplished with the same Shared Media tool in Revel. I have been using this video upload tool for over 13 years with my public speaking students. 

    Students may be asked to submit a progress report or use a Journal to reflect on what they have learned in the past week that supports work toward the presentation. You might consider using a discussion forum for these progress reports where classmates can contribute to one another. 

    To further scrutinize work on the presentation, students may be asked to include time for questions and answers. Students who have developed the presentation should be comfortable answering a range of topic-related questions from an arranged audience. I required my speech students to have an audience of 7 adults and include a Q&A that is captured on video as well as their speech presentation.

    Check for plagiarism using SafeAssign

    SafeAssign is a remarkable plagiarism prevention tool that detects matches between students’ submitted assignments and existing works by others. These works are found on a number of databases including ProQuest ABI/Inform, Institutional document archives, the Global Reference Database, as well as a comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the internet. 

    SafeAssign can also be used to help students identify how to attribute sources properly rather than paraphrase without citing the original source. Thus, the SafeAssign feature is impressive and effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. 

    Using any of the Writing Assignments in the Revel tool can have this Safe Assign evaluate any submission for plagiarism.

    Use discussion assignments

    Creating Discussion Board assignments require students to demonstrate critical thinking skills by responding to a relevant forum topic. 

    You may also design a rubric that is specific to the Discussion Board assignment and develop questions that require students to respond to every rubric category. 

    Having assignments that are very specific makes it more difficult for students to use portions of a previous term paper or other sources. 

    Include academic integrity policy statement in the course syllabus

    As faculty we need to include a policy statement regarding academic integrity in the course syllabus. 

    In addition, reiterate academic policies for students taking an online course and clarifying guidelines for completing tests and assignments so that students are not confused about what they can and cannot do.

    While this, in and of itself, may not be sufficient to change behavior, its acknowledged presence in the syllabus acknowledges a commitment to honesty in the academic arena. It also establishes the clear expectation that academic integrity is an important principle to live by. 

    Faculty may also choose to mention this policy using the ‘Announcements’ feature in any of your learning management systems, or while conducting a live web conference session.

    Learn More

    Preserving academic integrity is an ongoing challenge for traditional face-to-face, blended, and courses that are entirely online. While a number of expensive technology solutions, such as retinal eye scanners and live video monitoring have been developed to prevent cheating in online courses, the practical recommendations above can reduce the impact of cheating on assessing student performance online. 

  • Man with dark hair and glasses using a laptop while sitting on a couch

    The top 7 Mastering features you should be using

    By Dr. Terri Moore

    Upon mastering a course, it’s etched in our minds along with much satisfaction and pride. That’s what happens for faculty and students alike using Pearson’s Mastering® platform. It supports active, engaging, and immersive experiences while lightening the teacher’s workload.

    You will see its interactive tutorials, real-time analytics, and tailored feedback become indispensable tools as you help prepare students for their academic journeys.

    We’ve rounded up seven of Mastering’s best features that are sure to help the way you teach, engage, and ensure your students success.

    7 Mastering features you can start leveraging today —

    Dynamic Study Modules pose a series of question sets about a course topic that adapt to each student’s performance and offer personalized, targeted feedback to help them master key concepts. They can use their computer or the MyLab and Mastering app to access Dynamic Study Modules. Available for select titles.

    Early Alerts help identify struggling students as early as possible — even if their assignment scores are not a cause for concern. With this insight, you can provide informed feedback and support at the very moment students need it, so they can stay — and succeed — in your course.

    Gradebook records all scores for automatically graded assignments. Struggling students and challenging assignments are highlighted in red, giving you an at-a-glance view of potential hurdles students may face throughout your course.

    Performance Analytics track student performance against specified learning outcomes at both the individual student and class level. Mastering problems are tagged to publisher-provided learning outcomes or added to course-specific, department-wide, or institution-wide learning outcomes.

    Learning Catalytics allows you to pose a variety of questions to help students recall ideas, apply concepts, and develop critical-thinking skills. Students can respond using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

    Pearson+ powers your eTextbook, which can be accessed directly in your Mastering course. You and your students can dive right into the course eTextbook — take notes, make highlights, and review flashcards — and even listen to your book at home or on the go with the Pearson+ mobile app. Together, Mastering and Pearson+ give your students an all-in-one learning experience.

    Scheduled Reading assigns a chapter or specific section to hold students accountable for their reading and help them prep for lectures, homework, and quizzes. Scheduled Readings populate to each student’s assignment page, and you can now link readings directly to Mastering assignments.

    With real-time insights from Mastering’s analytics dashboard, you can personalize your lectures and labs, keeping pace with student life today while helping to boost student performance.

    By putting more Mastering tools to work, you can help develop more confident, competent learners eager to embrace complex scientific challenges through mindful, meaningful ways and help them improve results.

    See for yourself just how purpose-built Mastering truly is.

     

  • Instructor engaging with class

    The top 6 MyLab features you should be using

    By Dr. Terri Moore

    As an instructor, shouldn’t you have the flexibility, ease, and control to customize your own courses? That’s what MyLab® from Pearson offers as a teaching and learning platform. It’s purpose-built to help advance the way you teach through a robust set of features while transforming the way students learn.

    Yet, with so many available features and so little downtime, it can become quite challenging to stay apprised of lesser-known or newer features, many that help you better engage with students, improve your pedagogy, and drive academic success for all students. That’s why we’re here to help.

    We've compiled a list of the top six MyLab features we suggest incorporating to level up your MyLab course, boost student success, and maximize your time in the classroom.

    6 MyLab features you can start leveraging today —

    Freehand Grader

    Freehand Grader enables you to gain deeper insight into your students’ thinking with Freehand Grader. This new assignment type creates an authentic assessment experience for both instructors and students.

    With Freehand Grader, your students can upload their hand-written assignments, illustrate their thought processes, and receive meaningful feedback on their approach. Because it's not simply about how they arrived at the answer but the process.

    Dynamic Study Modules

    Dynamic Study Modules help your students stay on track and achieve a higher level of subject-matter mastery. Each module poses a series of questions about a course topic that adapts to each student's performance and offers personalized, targeted feedback to help reinforce their mastery.

    With real-time feedback on their performance, you can adjust your lectures to meet learners where they are and where they’re headed. In addition, students can use their computers or learn on the go with the MyLab app. Available for select titles.

    Pre-built Courses and Assignments

    Pre-built Courses and Assignments ease your workload, save time, and increase efficiency with MyLab’s pre-built courses and assignments. Each course has a foundation of interactive course-specific content — by authors who are experts in their field — to tailor and adapt as you see fit.

    Now, whether building your course from scratch or leaning on our pre-built collection, your lessons are in your control.

    Early Alerts

    Early Alerts help you identify students who may be struggling or falling behind in your course sooner with Early Alerts. This feature leverages an algorithm within MyLab that projects risk levels, and alerts you when a student may be falling behind.

    With these insights, you can intervene, provide support, and help keep students on track to complete the course.

    Learning Catalytics

    Learning Catalytics help to increase student engagement and enhance their learning in the classroom. This interactive student response tool allows you to deploy questions and surveys, and assess student comprehension. It also equips you with real-time data to help adjust your instructional strategy on the fly.

    Plus, Learning Catalytics automatically groups students for discussion, team-based learning, and peer-to-peer learning.

    Pearson+

    Together, MyLab and Pearson+ give your students an all-in-one learning experience. Pearson+ powers your course eTextbook, which can be accessed directly in your MyLab course. You and your students can dive right into the course eTextbook — take notes, make highlights, and review flashcards — and even listen to your book at home or on the go with the Pearson+ mobile app.

     

    Whether a novice or a MyLab expert, you’ll find much more to benefit and learn from with this teaching and learning platform — one that advances the way you teach and transforms the way learners learn.

    See for yourself just how purpose-built MyLab truly is. Learn more about MyLab.

     

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