The Star released an article by Nicole Thompson, listing some of the new fears of high school teachers regarding cheating on online tests. With tests no longer being written under direct teacher observation, students have found multiple ways to cheat. Common methods include taking pictures and texting friends, using mobile apps or the internet to solve questions, or asking tutors and siblings for help.

As an example, the Photomath application has over 150 million downloads globally, and is used by many teachers for in-class activities. The app allows users to take a picture of math questions and then provides a step-by-step guide on how to solve them. A similar app is Mathway.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Olivia Meleta, a high school math teacher from Thornhill, Ontario, uses the app to check her test questions before putting them on the test. She says, “If the app solved it exactly as I would — in other words, if I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference — then I would not include that question.” As for sharing answers between students, she makes different versions of the test, so that sharing test answers is a waste of time for students. This has required more of the teacher’s time to create all those new test questions. As she states, “all of my weekends, and weekday evenings, were kind of eaten up.”

However, the problem of students receiving answers from tutors or siblings is far more difficult for teachers to tackle.

The surge in cheating can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, and no longer having teachers invigilate in-person. The ever-increasing pressures of parental expectations for their children to gain offers of admission into high-ranking universities is another important factor that can result in students thinking twice about the repercussions of cheating and the negative impact it would have on one’s reputation and academic journey.

This struggle will continue well into the pandemic and perhaps beyond. Once in-person classes start up again for high school students, will grades fall due to stricter regulations and a return to traditional invigilating? Another question is: how will all this affect students?

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This post was written by Hibah Sehar