Algorithmic Questions Using Captivate to avoid Cheating

Algorithmic questions are questions that change from learner to learner. The change could be merely in the numbers used for the calculations, but it could go as complex as changing the text of the question.

During a presentation, someone demonstrated a tool that was being developed in University of Michigan that could do this. The example used was in a language class. Unfortunately, I lost contact with the presenter and was never able to find the next version of the system. Since then, I have been trying to emulate it. Captivate now allows me to do that.

The questions that I am now developing use random numbers for the data that is shown in the examination and then compares the input from the learner to the result of the equations using the random numbers presented. The exams are not simply asking the student to apply a formula, but the student needs to know which formula is the appropriate one to apply.

I am also going further. The questions themselves describe the environment in which the problem occurs. They say something like “Mr. Smith is the accountant at Small Mills Incorporated which is a company that produces paper envelopes.” With this system I can now have a set of names for people, a set of names for companies, and a set of products, and use a random combination when presenting the question. The work that the student needs to do to answer the question is still the same but the question itself might look very different. Now, if someone posted in a cheating site the question they got in their exam, a Google search will not easily come back with that result because too many of the words are different. I could even give the same question several times throughout the semester to the same student and they will still have to work with them each time. However, once the student really understands the topic I am teaching, he or she will be able to recognize that it is basically the same question and respond to it much more quickly. And that ability is what I want my students to have.

So, if you are developing quizzes using Captivate for your K-12 or Higher Education classes and these are quizzes that determine the grade of the student. You should start thinking on doing something like this.

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To avoid cheating in high-stakes quizzes developed with Captivate you need to use algorithmic questions (the same question uses different words and different numbers).
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