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A New Honesty for a New Game: Distinguishing Cheating from Learning in a Web-Based Testing Environment

Journal of Political Science Education Volume 1, Number 2, ISSN 1551-2169


Rapid growth in the use of internet-based instructional technology (IT) necessitates greater attention to the pedagogical implications of this transition. Though much of the literature on the uses of IT focuses on outcomes and student learning, we also need to ask whether and how different technologies force us to reconceive the boundaries for both student learning and academic honesty. One IT tool, the web quiz, demands this reconception by creating the possibility for an iterative game where typically only a single-shot game had existed in the past. This change in rule structure calls for the reassessment of definitions of learning and cheating that were developed in a previous era. I review the literature on IT, student learning, and academic honesty, as well as empirical classroom data to develop a typology of behavioral responses to the web quiz environment. Specifically, I identify five behavioral options for students presented with web quiz assignments, four of which would be considered "cheating" in the traditional quiz environment. Data from the classroom confirm the existence of two of these behaviors and offer circumstantial evidence for the other three. I also test the relationship between quiz type and retention of course material to see whether web quizzes or in-class quizzes better serve student learning. I conclude with recommendations for redefining academic honesty in light of IT's alterations to the learning environment. (Contains 2 tables, 3 figures, and 17 notes.)


Turner, C.C. (2005). A New Honesty for a New Game: Distinguishing Cheating from Learning in a Web-Based Testing Environment. Journal of Political Science Education, 1(2), 163-174. Retrieved October 5, 2022 from .

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