Digitising paper-based summative exams: minimising academic misconduct

By Dr James Vassie and Dr Emily Chandler with Dr Ulises Alejandro Aregueta‐Robles

Ulises Tutorial Grouping

Tutorial groupings in Moodle used to restrict access to the Major Quiz

During the UNSW shutdown, Dr Ulises Alejandro Argueta-Robles needed to deliver the BIOM9332 Biocompatibility exam online for students to take at home. This came with a pressing set of challenges. If the exam could not be remotely invigilated, how could Alejandro prevent plagiarism or collusion? In working with Dr James Vassie from the Educational Design and Delivery Solutions (EDDS) team to devise a solution, it became clear that no singular tool could address all potential pitfalls of remote exams. Instead, tools needed to be combined thoughtfully, within carefully designed assessments.

James’ colleague Dr Philippe Gentillon demonstrated a useful method for digitising assessments: reformatting true/false and multiple-choice questions in GIFT format using Notepad. James uploaded the resulting text file to the course’s question bank in Moodle and tested the questions to ensure they functioned correctly. After testing the questions, four Moodle Quizzes were built on the course home page.

Short answers were not added to the question bank, as Moodle Quiz could not check students’ responses for signs of plagiarism and collusion. Instead, James built four Turnitin assignment submission tools. The cover page instructed students to upload their short-answer responses to Turnitin upon completing the Major Quiz. Similarity reports were generated through Turnitin, allowing the teaching team to identify signs of academic misconduct.

The team used Moodle’s grouping function to restrict students in the four tutorials to a single version of the Major Quiz each. Using the same approach as Dr Philippe Gentillon and Dr Charitha de Silva in MECH3610, James created a Moodle Label where students used a checkbox to declare their submission was entirely their own. Using Moodle’s grouping function and access restrictions, the team ensured that the Moodle Quizzes, short-answer templates and Turnitin submission tools only opened under certain conditions. For these tools to become accessible, not only did the relevant tutorial class have to have begun, but students needed to be in the appropriate tutorial grouping and to have completed the academic integrity declaration.

The assessment redesign also involved rethinking assessment weighting. Alejandro explains, “There is no way that we can control cheating, [but] we couldn’t remove the exam because it was compulsory according to the teaching guidelines.” Instead, Alejandro made the exam only 20% of students’ final mark, whereas their group project was weighted 60%. In this way, the team did not just deter academic misconduct by lessening the imperative to cheat, they also increased the course’s emphasis on an activity that would prepare students for their careers as engineers: team-based projects.

Alejandro found that the support from James and the Educational Design and Delivery Services (EDDS) team far exceeded expectations.

Alejandro reflects that because of their collaboration, “time dedicated to marking was reduced significantly. Last year, I think I spent two weeks marking. With Moodle, everything’s marked and I can provide templates… It is pretty straightforward.”

Students responded positively to this hybrid Moodle Quiz-Turnitin exam, which ran smoothly for 97% of students.

For assistance redesigning assessment for online delivery and guidance in addressing plagiarism in the online space, reach out to EDS using the Educational Solutions consultation form.




Dr Ulises Alejandro Aregueta Robles is a post-doctoral researcher at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, UNSW, and the course coordinator of BIOM9332 Biocompatibility. His current research interests are focused on three dimensional neural networks cultures with the purpose of using the neurons as an extension of electrodes to address issues on neural interfaces.

james vassie

Dr James Vassie is an Educational Developer in Educational Design and Delivery Services, PVCESE. He has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, specialising in Nanomedicine. James is passionate about science communication, developing engaging educational content, sustainability and astronomy.

Dr Emily Chandler

Dr Emily Chandler is an Educational Developer in Educational Design and Delivery Services, PVCESE. She has a PhD in Media, Film and Theatre and is an Associate Fellow of Advance Higher Education. Emily is passionate about accessibility and equity.