Let the Cheaters Cheat! What We Can Learn from the World of Organized Cheating to Create Authentic Assessments

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

Academic dishonesty is an issue plaguing every educational institute today. This presentation will make a compelling argument to create fit for purpose assessments as a sustainable measure to curtail academic dishonesty. We will also discuss innovative resources, technology tools, and practical considerations to develop new/multiple paths for demonstrating students’ success.

Sponsored By


With over ten years of experience in the Online education, Esha she has designed, taught and researched online courses. Before joining Wiley Education Services, She worked for Rutgers University as an adjunct professor and an instructional designer. She has a Ph.D. (Education) from Rutgers University, NJ.

Extended Abstract

Relevance to the conference/ Need

Academic dishonesty is a serious issue plaguing every educational institute today whether big or small; brick and mortar or online. A study claims that 75% of students report that they have cheated at one time or another (Lorenzetti, 2010). There has been an enormous amount of effort in the industry to address the problem and identify its antecedents. A quick research review on the topic suggests that much has been published on the relationship of cheating with a variety of variables such as student behavior (Evans, O'Connor & Lee, 2018; Heyman, Fu, Lin, Qian & Lee, 2015), relationship between gender and cheating (Whitley, Nelson & Jones,1999), students’ age and cheating (Jensen, Arnett, Feldman & Cauffman, 2002), cheating rate in online vs. traditional schools (Watson & Sottile, 2010).

With the increase in the rate of cheating, the anti-cheating industry grows, and educators try everything available to discourage cheating from the simple old-fashioned way of acknowledging honor code to high profile proctoring software and scanning devices. Some instructors also argue that dishonesty problem could be resolved if teachers were better trained to identify the cheaters. Still, cheating persists! Preventing academic dishonesty by creating barriers is no simple affair it usually involves much time, effort, and money. 

In spite of all the concern over the vulnerability of the testing process, there has been little to no change in the way students are assessed.  The vast majority of online courses still rely on multiple choice quizzes, exams, discussions to measure students’ learning. There is a strong need to expend greater resources and effort on strategizing and creating online assessments as a sustainable solution to curtail academic dishonesty.

Audience Appeal

This session will be beneficial to faculty teaching online or face to face, instructional designers, and researchers, design thinkers, instructional support staff, and other training professionals. Many faculty members when transitioning to the online environment tend to fall back on the same assessment strategies as they’ve used over the years when teaching face to face classes. Similarly, administration and faculty members are expected to use the same methods to curb cheating as they’ve used traditionally such as proctoring or in the case of online teaching, online proctoring software.  This analogous translation from face to face classes to online courses does not work. For example, a forty-five-minute lecture in a face to face class may be very engaging for students, but when recorded and placed in an online course, it can put even motivated students to sleep. This presentation will make a compelling argument to continue to evolve assessments and use a different lens to of view academic dishonesty and why it occurs.  


This session will build upon the previous work published mainly in the form of blogs or web articles and begin by making connections between the skills required to cheat successfully and with the real-world skills that faculty help students to develop to be successful after they graduate.  Successful cheaters are often skilled networkers and successful collaborators, great researchers, solution-oriented, critical thinkers, and innovators. Research has proven that there is a correlation between assessment type and cheating (Harmon, Lambrinos & Buffolino, 2010). Instead of designing assessments that require regurgitating facts, we need to create assessments that not only leverage the above skillset but also hones it further. A shift from traditional modes of assessment (tests, quizzes, term papers) to more authentic, a student-centered assessment would allow students to demonstrate higher order thinking and help them practice and perfect real-world skills required in the workplace. 

We will discuss the following in the session:

  •  Strategies for developing student-centered discussion forums
  • How to build more choices for students and create multiple paths to success
  • How to leverage technology to develop innovative assessments such as mixed modality assignments

At the conclusion of the presentation, the audience can walk away with valuable resources that can be easily adapted and can be used for future reference:

  • Exemplars of authentic assessment that can be used in online courses
  • Exemplars of authentic assessments that leverage technological tools such as video-based assessments
  • Exemplars of group and peer review projects
  • Easy grading techniques that go along with the exemplars
  • Practical considerations when setting up assessments in a LMS


Evans, A. D., O'Connor, A. M., & Lee, K. (2018). Verbalizing a commitment reduces cheating in young children. Social Development, 27(1), 87-94.

Harmon, O. R., Lambrinos, J., & Buffolino, J. (2010). Assessment Design and Cheating Risk in Online Instruction. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13(3).

Heyman, G. D., Fu, G., Lin, J., Qian, M. K., & Lee, K. (2015). Eliciting promises from children reduces cheating. Journal of experimental child psychology, 139, 242-248

Jensen, L. A., Arnett, J. J., Feldman, S. S., & Cauffman, E. (2002). It's wrong, but everybody does it: Academic dishonesty among high school and college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27(2), 209-228.

Lorenzetti, J. P. (2010). Remote proctoring: Key to secure exam administration? In C. Hill (Ed.), Faculty focus special report: Promoting academic integrity in online education, 14-15.

Watson, G. R., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses?

Whitley, B. E., Nelson, A. B., & Jones, C. J. (1999). Gender differences in cheating attitudes and classroom cheating behavior: A meta-analysis. Sex Roles, 41(9-10), 657-680.