The Invigilation Process

Sandy at Tech Buz News (2018). Is Cheating on Exams Becoming Worse and Prevalent? Retrieved from on March 15th, 2018.

Webster’s Dictionary defines invigilation as “keeping watch over examination candidates to prevent cheating”. This seems like an almost impossible task. Although we can ‘keep watch’ over our students while they are writing exams, how can we prevent them from cheating? Individuals are becoming more resourceful and  increasingly clever when it comes to cheating on exams. The University of Regina recently dealt with a significant number of students having cheated in their law and ethics class. (Geoff Leo 2018). The instructor had left invigilation in the hands of the teacher’s assistant instead of invigilating the exam himself. 

How Should We Define Invigilation?

The majority of invigilation discussion surrounds online courses and distance education courses. Looking through other educational institutions you may find the term ‘professional invigilator’. What does this term mean? Are they given training or have to take a certificate program on invigilation? It is quite difficulty to find any further information about the ‘professional’ part of a professional invigilator at these institutions. The Canadian College of Educators provides a 20-hour online course which results in a Certificate in Exam Invigilation. It’s possible that invigilators that have training in invigilation may be more successful in reducing the cheating that occurs. One of the major issues that faculty often face is that they are unable to invigilate the exams for students that have special accommodations. These students are quite often not invigilated as they would be if they were in the classroom taking the exam under the watchful eye of the faculty member that delivers the course. With a rise in student accommodations in post-secondary institutions, we may need to redefine the process of invigilation. 

Student Cheating

How to Cheat on an Exam Google Result

Google is even very helpful if you need to find new ways to cheat on an exam. Wikihow has more than one ‘How to Cheat’ entry with multiple ratings from readers. It seems like a losing battle. However, many of us won’t give up the fight. Why don’t we just throw in the towel? Why stress over the plagiarized essays or lab reports that we receive? Why? Because it simply is not fair to rest of the students. It isn’t fair to the student who works two jobs, has a child at home, and has given his or her honest effort to learn the material and do well in his or her studies. It isn’t fair that someone who cheats receives the same grade, or is awarded that scholarship. It simply isn’t right. So we keep trying to find ways to stop it.

How To Prevent Cheating on an Exam

We can thank Google and wikihow for providing some equally lovely suggestions on how to prevent cheating on an exam. However, there are not as many entries on the popular wikiHow page on how to prevent cheating. There are not nearly as many people that have rated the ‘How to Prevent Cheating’, 16 votes, as ‘How to Cheat’, which has over 1200 votes. It would appear that ‘How to Cheat’ might be somewhat more popular with Google users than ‘How to Prevent Cheating’.

8 Statistics on Academic Cheating

Open Education Database has compiled ‘8 Astonishing Stats on Academic Cheating‘.

  1. 60.8% of polled college students admitted to cheating.
  2. The same poll revealed that 16.5% of them didn’t regret it.
  3. Cheaters have higher GPAs. 
  4. The public is more concerned with cheating than college officials.
  5. Cheating college students likely start in high school.
  6. In fact, 85% of them think cheating is essential.
  7. 95% of cheaters don’t get caught.
  8. Top-tier paper mill website average about 8,000 hits a day.

So what can we do to help prevent cheating?

We have all probably heard many of the suggestions out there that can help prevent cheating. Some of these suggestions include random seating arrangements, multiple versions of exams, not allowing the students to have anything on their desk. However, there are some other preventative measures that higher education institutions have implemented that might be of consideration by the institution.

  1. A Dedicated Exam Room
    • The University of Toronto – St. George Campus has a dedicated exam room that holds 106 students, is wheelchair accessible, and has storage cubbies.
  2. Exam Cheating Software
    • The University of McGill has an Exam Security Computer Monitoring Program that can detect pairs of students with unusually similar answer patterns on multiple-choice exams.
    • We are currently trialing Respondus software which can lock down the testing environment in Moodle or another learning management system.
    • Proctortrack is a software that monitors online test-takers through a webcam. It can identify possible cheating behaviours like slouching or picking up a pencil.
  3. Honor Code

As a member of the bargaining unit of a faculty association we should have a voice regarding how our students are invigilated. We have a vested interest in our courses and in the students that take our courses. However, there is no current agreement or language regarding the process of invigilation, the training of the invigilators, and who is selected to invigilate when the faculty member is unavailable. It might be worth a discussion.