Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Exploration into Improving Examinees' Acceptance of Participation in an Online Exam

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Exploration into Improving Examinees' Acceptance of Participation in an Online Exam

Article excerpt


Due the capacity of the Internet to transcend time and space, traditional paper and pencil exams have gradually been transformed from physical space to cyberspace. Online exams have been widely used in many institutions as a convenient alternative assessment tool for evaluating students' learning outcome. However, in current educational systems, there is a considerable gap in the trust of online exams compared to traditional ones. It is difficult for examiners to monitor and credibly assess online exam systems as a result of the difficulties relating to the identification process of the students. The system should be capable of confirming whether the examinees are in fact the students specified by their identification. It is generally acknowledged that cheating in exams is not uncommon among students on college campuses (Bolin, 2004). Even though the use of technology can mitigate these unfavourable phenomena but cheating cannot be completely eradicated (Pain & Le Heron, 2003). Studies have uncovered increasingly diversified trends in cheating behaviours, and the fairness of exams is increasingly being called into question (Crown & Spiller, 1998). According to a study of online exams, 45% of students self-reported negative behaviours, such as lying, cheating, and defiance, during online exams (Russell & James, 2008), and 73.6% of the students in the sample believed that it is easier to cheat in an online exam than in a traditional exam (King, Guyette, & Piotrowski, 2009). Of these, one of the main reasons that the fairness of online exams is being called into question is the user authentication problem (Apampa, Wills, & Argles, 2010). For example, if a student with poor grades were to find a student with good grades to take an exam on his behalf, this could lead to benefits beyond the exam itself, such as higher a chance of success when applying to a more reputable graduate school. Once the fairness of exams has been violated, the trust in the system from the examinees decreases. Therefore, trust has been recognised as the most important factor in a successful participation of online exam website (Chang, Tseng, Chou, & Chen, 2011). Given the convenience of the Internet, governments and educators are thus challenged with the task of establishing fair environment and policy for online exam. As the need for online exams continues to grow, more complete user identification, including a face recording system for examinees, has been suggested for online exam websites (Chen, Hsieh, & Tsai, 2008). Furthermore, school administrations should also develop a sound policy to prevent cheating behaviours in online exams. In order to minimize cheating behaviours on online exams, we approached the issue from the perspective of two mechanisms: one at the technical level and the other at the institutional level. Therefore, this study proposes a notarisation process (technical level) combined with the setting of an online exam policy (institutional level) to develop a more reliable and fairer exam environment. Moreover, we also propose a hypothetical model as our research framework to explore other factors whether affect examinees' participation acceptance of online exams.

Existing approaches to verify a user's identity

In the context of online exams, user authentication refers to the security procedure examinees use to establish a trust relationship with the system. It is similar to the checks on examinees' identity (ID) cards that examiners perform before allowing them into a traditional exam room. Currently there are several approaches used to verify examinees' real identities, such as face recognition, which is a method that can successfully and safely confirm personal identification (Chen et al., 2008). Other common approaches are listed below with brief descriptions:

Username and password

For this method, there is no need to purchase additional expensive equipment, and all that is required is a computer equipped with a mouse and keyboard. …

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