Tag Archives: Online

Top Hat for Lectures, Assignments, Tests, Textbooks, AND MORE!

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Submitted by Katrina Markowicz

For my online teaching skill, I decided to create a Top Hat account and learn how to incorporate the teaching tool into future courses that I may teach. I became aware of Top Hat while I was completing a teaching observation. Overall, Top Hat is a really neat tool which essentially would allow a professor to completely place their entire course on the Top Hat site. For example, you can take attendance, upload your lecture slides, choose an associated online textbook, upload and create exams, and create assignments. If a professor only uses Top Hat for free textbooks and course materials (i.e., Top Hat Textbook), as well as the “Top Hat Assignment” feature, students pay nothing. However, there is a fee for students if a professor were to adopt more features. For example, if the professor were to also use Top Hat Classroom, Top Hat Test, and premium textbooks/materials, the fee for students would be no more than $26 for one semester. Professors always sign up for free.

Top Hat Classroom (not free to students): When students interact with Top Hat Classroom, they can use their computers or mobile devices (i.e., mobile app or text) depending on the feature being implemented. For example, one feature that stood out to me was using Top Hat as a lecturing tool. You can easily drag and drop pre-made PowerPoint slides and use the Top Hat website to give the lecture. A benefit to this is that, if you allow it, you can allow students to follow along to the lecture on their computers. You can also annotate slides to circle key words or draw arrows pointing to specific figures. The downside is that when I uploaded some demo slides, my slides came out a little blurry. The classroom feature also allows you to take attendance for your class.

Top Hat Classroom – questions (not free to students): Another feature I enjoyed was being able to create “test-of-knowledge” questions that you can score for participation, correctness, or neither. Examples of question formats include word choice, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, matching, sorting, and click on the target (i.e., “click which part of the picture defines this word”). These questions can be implemented in the middle of your lecture (i.e., “real-time feedback”) or assigned to the student to complete as homework. When you complete these questions during lecture, it allows you to show the students the correct answer after answering, provide feedback after answering, and set a time limit. One feature I thought was neat was while in presentation mode, is that you can set a count-down for “last minute submissions” to close submission. After students answer the question, you can show the frequency or percent of responses across answers (e.g., for multiple-choice type questions), and then show the correct answer. Some types of questions (i.e., multiple-choice) allows the student to answer on their computer, mobile app, or text, but others require the use of their computer or mobile app. The mobile app should be supported by most phones and across iPhone and Android, but if a student has an older phone, no phone, or a different type of phone, these features could be problematic.

Top Hat Assignment (free to students): You can also assign these questions for homework. Similar to presenting these in lecture, you can set it so they can see the correct answer, provide feedback, and a time limit. As homework, you set a start and due date. These questions can be assigned to the whole class or some of the class. When you assign the question for homework, it send the students a notification to complete it.

Top Hat Textbook (Sometimes free to students): The textbook feature allows professors to choose a text book and other course materials that their students can access. These can be found in the marketplace. There were 12 “premium textbooks” and 12 “free textbooks” under “Psychology,” which is pretty limiting. There are also course notes, slide decks, and question packs available. I could not explore this content further because my account needed to be verified as “professor.”

Top Hat Test (Not free to students): The type of test questions you can implement are similar to the questions you can assign for homework or administer in lecture. A professor types in correct answers to score, and these are scored automatically. There is not a feature to test the student’s knowledge on classroom material through short (1-paragrah) and long essay questions. Though, if a professor is able to change points for specific questions, using the “word answer” question, the student could type in a longer paragraph. That is, the professor could set the correct answer to “SCORE ME” and then change the score based on correctness. Though, as a student, it is possible that they may not be able to see their answer as a whole written out as the words disappear as one types. Overall, I feel like unless this feature allows you to change certain points, it is also difficult to assign partial credit. A benefit of this is that the test feature tracks a student’s use of their computer so if they were to “look up answers” the professor would see that they left the test screen to view online content. Though, the interpretation of what the report presents is limited and could potentially make a professor have to report more students for cheating than during a pen-and-paper test.

For more information, I highly encourage anyone to visit: https://tophat.com. You can also request a demo or create your own account!

Online Academic Integrity

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

Article Reference

Mastin, D., Peszka, J., & Lilly, D. (2009). Online academic integrity. Teaching of Psychology, 36(3), 174-178.

Article DOI

10.1080/00986280902739768

Summary of Article

Aim: Investigate whether academic pledges reduce the level of cheating in online assignments, and assess the overall rate of cheating in online assignments

Method: 439 introductory psychology students were recruited over three semesters. Participants were told that they would be completing an online motor task and that their earned extra credit would increase based on their score on the motor task. Participants were told that the computer program would not track their correct responses, and thus they were asked to self-report their correct response total.
Students were randomized to three experimental conditions: no pledge, check mark pledge, and written honor pledge

Results: 361 participants (82.2%) accurately reported their performance, 16 (3.6%) underreported their performance, and 62 (14.1%) overreported their performance.
Mean magnitude of cheating in the entire sample was 0.39/10 points (SD = 1.52), but the mean in the cheating sample was 3.08/10 points over-reporting (SD = 2.75).
Honor pledge condition had no effect on the rate of cheating in the overall sample, or in the cheating subset . Participants were 2.06 times more likely to cheat at the end of the semester than at the beginning, but time of semester did not affect the magnitude of cheating. When the required magnitude of overreporting to be considered cheating was increased (2 points out of 10 instead of 1 point out of 10) the percentage of students cheating dropped to 8.0%. This change was made to account for the presence of 13 students underreporting by 1 point – the authors allowed a larger margin of error in reporting before labelling over-reporting as cheating.

Discussion: Research is still needed to determine the actual rates of cheating on online assignments, and effective strategies to reduce rates of cheating. These efforts are becoming more important as more institutions and professors institute online courses and assessment methods. Though the external validity is not perfect, since most online exams are not self-report, the lack of significance of the honor pledge condition is troubling.

Discussion Questions

  1. Would you include a version of an honor pledge in your courses? Has your opinion changed as a result of reading this study?
  2. Forsyth cites a study that claims that more students say that they would be more likely to cheat online than the rates at which they actually cheat. What does this tell us about the way in which students approach online learning? How can we use this information to try to prevent cheating?
  3. Online learning brings with it tremendous opportunities to increase collaboration and team-based learning among students. How would you balance this opportunity with the reality that it may make cheating easier for students?

Online Academic Integrity

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Submitted by Athena Cairo

Article Reference

Mastin, D. F., Peszka, J., & Lilly, D. R. (2009). Online academic integrity. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 174-178. DOI: 10.1080/00986280902739768

Article DOI

10.1080/00986280902739768

Summary of Article

In this study, the authors investigated the extent to which students generally would tend to cheat on an online extra-credit assignment, and whether the time of the semester or signing an honor pledge might moderate these tendencies.

Background

In some older surveys of college students (1, 2), between 40 and 83% of students reported engaging in academic dishonesty at some point in their college career. Between 2%-13% of students reported having cheated in a traditional lecture course in which they were currently enrolled (3). Although slightly more than half of faculty and students think that it would be easier to cheat in an online setting (4), only 3% of students admitted to cheating in online courses (5). Additionally, reports suggest schools that have honor codes tend to have lower rates of cheating among the student body (6). In light of these points, the authors conducted an experiment to investigate the rates of cheating in their student body, and the effect of writing an honor code with the assignment (experimental condition), as well as the time of the semester on cheating rates (moderating variable). Specifically, the researchers hypothesized: 1. Being asked to agree to an honor pledges will discourage cheating 2. Students are more likely to cheat later in the semester than earlier in the semester

Methods

Participants were 439 undergraduate students taking an Intro to Psych class. Participants were tested over the course of three different time points, September 2005 (n = 141), May 2005 (n = 124), and May 2006 (n = 174).

Participants were told they could receive up to 10 bonus points for participating in the study, and were told it was a pilot study of a motor task. Upon signing up to participate, P’s were assigned to one of three pledge conditions: no pledge, check-mark pledge and typed-out pledge.

P’s accessed the motor task online, which was designed to be especially difficult (so students would have an incentive to cheat). P’s were told their points would be tied to their performance on the motor task, but als0 that the page could not track their performance on the task.

P’s completed the motor task or hitting a computer key when the correct number appeared on the screen. At the end of the task, participants reported their number of hits in a text box, allowing them to possibly cheat by over-reporting their successful hits. P’s were debriefed 7 days after participation.

Results

  • Fourteen percent of participants cheated by over-reporting their hits. Overall, participants in the group reported better performance than they obtained; t(438) = –5.37, p < .05, d = .26

  • Honor pledge conditions had no effect on cheating frequencies across all P’s, nor did it predict greater severity of cheating among those who did cheat.
  • Participants were twice as likely to cheat at the end of the semester than at the beginning χ2(2, N = 423) = 6.41, p <.05, Cramer’s V =.12. End vs. beginning of the semester did predict greater severity of cheating.

References:

(1) Bunn, Caudill, & Gropper, 1992; (2); Davis, Grover, Becker, & McGregor, 1992; (3) Kerkvliet & Sigmund, 1999; (4) Kennedy, Nowak, Raghuraman, Thomas, & Davis, 2000; (5) Grijalva, Nowell, & Kerkvliet, 2006; (6) McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2002

Discussion Questions

  1. Many students and faculty think it’s easier to cheat online than in a traditional lecture course– how could you as an instructor help prevent cheating on different types of assignments (e.g. research paper, tests, online quizzes) in both an online and a traditional lecture course?
  2. Do you think that having students write/sign an honor pledge helps prevent cheating at VCU? Would this maybe depend on different classroom contexts or types of assignment?
  3. Additionally, how can we help students not feel as stressed and compelled to cheat toward the end of the semester?

    Bonus question: Say you find a student who severely cheats or plagiarizes an assignment– what would you do? What if the student was someone you liked or knew was going through difficult circumstances?