CEC Theses and Dissertations


Examining the Validity of Testing in an Online Learning Environment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder


The lack of a physical instructor presence in the online learning environment (OLE) likely provides students with increased opportunities to cheat during a test when compared to the traditional classroom. It is unknown however, if an increase in cheating actually takes place. Accordingly, this investigation sought to determine whether the incidence of cheating in the OLE was greater than in the traditional classroom. Five sections of online community college students were selected for the study. Participants completed an anonymous, Web-based survey following one of two testing procedures: (1) proctor-administered exams at a testing center, or (2) online testing via a course management system (i.e., Blackboard Campus Edition) utilizing three cheating inhibitors: time limit, availability, and randomization. The results were analyzed to determine if there was a significant difference in the ability to cheat, in the intent to cheat, and in the rate of cheating among community college students taking proctor administered and online exams.

Findings from the study indicate that students thought the OLE provided more cheating opportunities than the testing center environment (both in the opportunity to use outside resources and collaborate with others). Students also reported that they thought more about cheating in the testing center environment than in the OLE. Neither environment however yielded significant rates of student cheating on tests, but participant concerns about confidentiality may have caused respondents to understate their involvement in unethical behaviors. Overall, the results of this study suggest that administering online tests via a CMS is a valid form of testing; information that may accelerate the implementation of Broward Community College's effort to deliver a fully online, accredited curriculum.

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