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Evaluation of online students: Methods and integrity issues

Alberta Carol Sautter, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The evaluation strategies of a course are cloaked messages from the instructor to students, which are used to direct them to the skills and behaviors that are important for success. The purpose of this study was to examine the methods used by online instructors, and to explain their concerns about the academic integrity issues of online instruction. ^ The instructors of online classes in the University of Nebraska system were surveyed with an adaptive online instrument. The survey asked them to consider an online class that they teach, and a similar campus class that they have taught. The survey specifically considered take home tests, proctored online tests, unproctored online tests, traditional group tests, proctored individual tests, collaborative activities, papers, and projects. Instructors were asked which of these evaluation strategies they used for their online and campus classes. They approximated the percentages that each was used to determine a student's final grade in a course, and selected a reason for including that strategy. Along with personal demographics, the instructors were asked about the size, level, and student characteristics of each class. Instructors also were asked about their integrity concerns with their online classes, and about the possible use of a biometric identification system during online testing. ^ It was found that instructors used less proctored group exams with their online classes, but more unproctored online and proctored individual tests. Online graduate classes utilize more activities that require deep thinking skills. When online classes become large, instructors utilize fewer authentic evaluation activities, but more proctored and online tests. The most prevalent reason cited for utilizing proctored testing was to control cheating. The most prevalent reason cited for utilizing the other strategies was enhanced learning. Experienced online instructors tended to use less testing with their campus classes, and more authentic evaluation activities. ^ When instructors were asked about the academic integrity of their online students, their responses covered the entire spectrum of opinion on the subject. While two-thirds of the online instructors felt that a biometric deterrent would help, only forty percent of those thought that they would ever use it. ^

Subject Area

Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Technology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Sautter, Alberta Carol, "Evaluation of online students: Methods and integrity issues" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3022661.