To catch a cheat, employ e-methods

16th May 2008 at 01:00
Your article on a "Hippocratic oath" for our assessment system ("Ethical code for exams", TES, May 2) is good news for our industry and I applaud Ofqual's ongoing commitment to what is a contentious and highly emotive issue
Your article on a "Hippocratic oath" for our assessment system ("Ethical code for exams", TES, May 2) is good news for our industry and I applaud Ofqual's ongoing commitment to what is a contentious and highly emotive issue. But let's not stop with a code of conduct. Let's go further by combating the climate of cheating, preventing opportunities for cheating, and policing the situation accordingly. A three-pronged approach is the best way to tackle the serious problems in the assessment system.

The use of e-assessment is proving successful in reducing cheating. Using techniques such as Loft (linear-on-the-fly) testing, where adjacent students receive different question forms for the same exam, reduces the opportunity for copying answers. There are also electronic methods of comparing answers, either online or post-event, which can detect inconsistencies or plagiarism.

These established methods of assessment are growing, and will hopefully continue do so in a culture that eschews cheating by both students and educators. I trust that Ofqual will actively explore and pursue these tried and tested avenues so that we can work towards a water-tight assessment system, respected by everyone.

Geoff Chapman, Head of communications, Prometric, Manchester.

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