Proposed testing policy places cheating in crosshairs

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Dixie State University administrators and faculty members are fighting a specific mode of cheating in the Testing Center with a new proposed policy.

When a test has only one version and is administered in the Testing Center over multiple days, it gives students the opportunity to cheat by telling classmates about the material on the test, said Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs and provost.

Lacourse sent an email announcement Aug. 23 to faculty members saying the Testing Center would deny any request to administer a test over multiple days when there is only one version of the test. However, when some faculty members could not make changes to their tests and schedule fast enough for the fall semester, Lacourse said he retracted his decision. 

Lacourse said the final decision on a policy to end this method of cheating is now in the hands of the faculty senate, who will propose and vote on the new policy. He said he hopes to see a new policy for Testing Center requirements drafted by spring semester. 

“When there are multiple versions of a test, there’s no problem,” Lacourse said. “But it’s when we have only one version of a test open for a long period of time—that creates the conditions in which it’s easier for people to communicate information about the test.”

Lacourse said there are resources available through the DSU Center for Teaching and Learning to help faculty members learn about the best practices of administering tests to minimize cheating.  

“I’ve randomly asked students that I come in contact with, ‘what do you think? Is there any cheating going on in the Testing Center?’” Lacourse said. “Yes is the typical answer. I’ve never heard a no.”

Laura Andrade, a sophomore communication major from Los Angeles, said a new policy where tests are only administered on one day in the Testing Center when there is only one version of the test may be hard to accommodate.

“If the test is scheduled on Friday, then I might not be able to make it because I work most Fridays,” Andrade said. “And even if there are multiple [versions] of tests, students can still talk with each other about what’s on them, even if it’s more generally…This policy would do nothing to stop cheating and would just make the Testing Center more of a hassle.”   

Lacourse said while on test administered in the Testing Center on one day may be accepted, the goal of a policy change would be to have multiple versions of tests administered over a few days.

“If a particular test is scheduled outside the normal class time and a student can’t make it because they have work or something, then that’ll be something we’ll have to look into,” Lacourse said. “We don’t want to create any problems for students.”

Testing Center Director Tamron Lee said he doesn’t know the details of the potential policy, but will be prepared to “adapt and enforce” any new policy combating cheating. 

“We want to be sure every grade is earned,” Lacourse said.