Tests meet new mediums

Recent changes from material to online testing proves risky

Chad Smith, Reporter

Papers needing to be graded are piled up on speech teacher Sara Berghoff’s desk. She wondered how much longer the grading process would to take, and if she would even be able to get grades back to her students.

Moments like these a few years ago made Berghoff realize she needed to change to a new testing strategy, one that could exponentially cut down her grading time. Her method of choice would be online testing.

“After taking entirely too long to grade and return the midterm, I threw up my hands and said ‘I’m so sick of this,’” Berghoff said. “Now, I use a Google form I grade with Flubaroo, and my turnaround time went from the embarrassing (length) of two months to about a week and a half.”

Online testing is quickly becoming a norm at SHS, with multiple teachers using the new medium across many different departments. While this platform has its benefits, some questions have arisen over the issue of cheating, and what can be done in order to prevent it.

Over the past few years, online testing has seen increased use throughout different classes. Chromebooks provided by SHS have given students the opportunity to do work online, and teachers have started utilizing them for assignments and tests as well.

Berghoff is one out of many teachers who uses online testing in their classrooms. She says it makes grading quicker and easier, as she can now grade with efficiency and can get grade back to her students in a timely manner.

“In the past, I would hand (a test) back and (students) would say ‘I don’t remember taking this,” Berghoff said. “(With online grading,) people have the opportunity to actually look at their tests and see what they did.”

In her experience, Berghoff has not had any major issues with cheating on online tests. She says the amount of cheating has not significantly changed, only the methods which students have used to cheat, such as the Internet.

Since Berghoff’s speech class midterm and final are open-note, online cheating is not exactly necessary. When cheating does occur, she says it is not difficult to spot due to the way her questions are meant to be answered.

“It’s very clear to me when someone did not have their notes and decided to start Googling the answers,” Berghoff said. “The Google results are not the answers I’m looking for.”

English teacher Sam Hanley, however, does have experience dealing with cheating online. In this instance, students cheated on an online state standardized test. Hanley, along with other administrators, took disciplinary action against the students in question in order to correct the issue.

Hanley sees how online testing can sometimes be more susceptible to cheating, but also believes that other factors play a role when students turn to cheating. One factor he cites is the testing environment students were in.

“I think it has to do with a comfortable environment in the classroom where…, students were used to being in, and it wasn’t being monitored close enough,” Hanley said.

Assistant principal Amy Boone has been working closely with teachers in order to decrease cheating online. While online cheating is subject to punishment similar to cheating on paper, other aspects of tests have been changed in order to reduce the amount of cheating possible.

One way Boone is attempting to lessen the amount of cheating in general is by having teachers change the type of questions they ask on tests. In the past, questions have been primarily fact based, but questions now are more related to application of material and higher-level thinking.

“We’re trying to move towards different depth of knowledge levels in questions,” Boone said. “Even if you have access to the Internet, you still have to problem solve in order to get your way through it.”