Cheating on tests less likely if you use SharePoint?

Do you deliver online tests to employees (for compliance, certification or training purposes) or to students in college or university courses? If so, might your test-takers be less likely to cheat if you deliver tests or exams embedded in SharePoint than in a standalone application? The answer  is possibly yes. Read on to find out more!

Fraud triangle - motivation, opportunity and rationalization

A key concept to explain this is the fraud triangle, originally invented by Donald Cressey, a famed criminologist. He suggested that for people to conduct fraud, which includes cheating at a test, they need Motivation, Opportunity and Rationalization.

  • Motivation. To cheat at a test, you need motivation, a reason to do it.  Typically this will be because the test is high stakes – if you fail, there will be penalties.
  • Opportunity. To cheat at a test, you also need opportunity. There are three main kinds of opportunity:
    1. Impersonation or identity fraud : where another person logs in and takes a test for the test-taker. For instance, a manager gets a secretary to take the test for him/her, or a student gets a cleverer class-mate to take the test.
    2. Content theft : where the questions (and/or answers) are stolen and given/sold to potential cheaters.
    3. Unauthorized aids : where the test-takers get unapproved help to answer the questions, for instance another person to help, or access to the Internet or materials they are not supposed to have.
  • Rationalization. Someone who cheats also needs to be able to rationalize to themselves that what they are doing is fair – for instance that they think the process is unfair or because everyone else is doing it or some other mental model. They need a rationale to convince themselves that what they are doing is okay to do.

So given this, why might taking a test from SharePoint make it less likely that people cheat?

The main reason is that in many organizations, you would not willingly give your SharePoint password to another person. This might give them access to private or financial information (e.g. bonus or salary). It might be a serious breach of your organization’s information security policy. Or it might allow them to take actions as you that could be embarrassing (send emails, fill in forms etc). So in many organizations, if you use SharePoint to authenticate test-takers, it might encourage someone to take the test themselves  and so prevent impersonation, which is one of the main Opportunities for cheating.

Use of SharePoint could also help a little with Rationalization, as it could be part of a fair testing programme, which will make people feel less keen to defraud it. SharePoint probably won’t help much with Motivation, nor with other Opportunities such as content theft or unauthorized aids. If you are interested in learning how to deal with these, as well as more on the fraud triangle, see Questionmark CEO Eric Shepherd’s excellent blog article Assessment Security and How To Reduce Fraud.

If your organization culture allows SharePoint password exchange, then using SharePoint probably won’t help exam security. But if your organization culture is such that people will not easily give their SharePoint password to someone else, then using SharePoint as an entry point to online tests and exams could reduce impersonation and so reduce cheating.

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4 Responses to Cheating on tests less likely if you use SharePoint?

  1. Pingback: Best SharePoint Sites of 2011; The Cloud Over Microsoft; SkyDrive for OS X Client? - SharePoint Daily - Bamboo Nation

  2. I love this article! Thank you for presenting the cheating in a more organised fashion. I am writing an article about ‘Dirty online assessment’ and I’ll definitely link to this page. I like that you propose a solution too.

  3. Henry Bray says:

    The information in your post about SharePoint is more interesting. and this info is more useful for the developers to develop the SharePoint apps. Thanks for share this valuable info.

  4. Informative post about share point and its application modification is very interesting to hear .Thanks for wonderful post of information
    Online Examination System

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