Anti-Cheating Feature Rocks!

So as I was grading a recent assessment, I noticed a little red exclamation point next to some student responses. When I clicked on the “exclamation point”, I was surprised to see a message that read “This response includes copy & pasted parts.” As I went through the entire assessment I noticed that some of the responses from the same students were being flagged as containing copy and pasted parts.

When I confronted the students, about GoFormative detecting possible cheating, every single student I talked to confessed to cheating. Although I did not give the students specifics about what GoFormative detected, as to not give away my secret.

So I wanted to pose the following questions, is there any other anti-cheating features that Goformative provides? Can anyone think of any related suggestions for GoFormative on how to cut-down on the possibility of students cheating? What do the rest of you do to minimize cheating on digital assessments?


Glad to hear that this feature has been useful for you.

Not currently, but we’d love to hear your suggestions. One thing we’ve heard from our @Certified_Educators is possibly to detect if a student is switching tabs. It’d be great to hear if this or anything else would be useful for you!


That would be perfect! That’s probably the main way students cheat, switching tabs


This is an idea that I struggle with philosophically. I think I have several personalities on the topic. Erica #1 says, “We need to try and prevent/detect cheating with any technology advancement we can.” Erica #2 says, “Perhaps I need to reconsider the types of questions that I am asking. If the answer is ‘Google-able’ am I not providing learning opportunities that are rigorous enough.” Erica #3 says, “Why am I teaching like Google doesn’t exist? In real life what do I do when I need to know something…I Google it!” Ohhh the struggle!!


I am also in the Erica 1, Erica 2 and Erica 3 camp. A while back I came across a quote that stated “I don’t teach the trivia. Trivia is anything that can be Googled”. While this is not necesarily true, I do teach objects in the solar system, for example, and well that can be Googled. There are also some things that my kids need to know off the top of their heads, and when you assess those, the issue of Googling an answer will invariably come up (Erica 1).
However, what we (educators) would like of course is that students are able to think for themselves, and find answers when as they need them (Erica 3). In all honesty whenever I am trying to come up with a new lesson or idea, I will Google. In fact, isn’t that what we do when we share/clone formatives. Same copy/paste with a different name. What we do with them after is what is key (Erica 2). So of course, while I do not want my students to simply copy/paste, I do want them to be able to read something, integrate it into their knowledge base and explain it “in their own words”.

I do love having the “this response was copy pasted”, but the way I see it is a little critically. Perhaps a student copy/pasted my sentence frame (if I gave it), or a difficult word (author’s name, for example). He/she may have even copy/pasted a quote and given attribution. Those, in my book are perfectly fine. Now, if the response is marked as copy/pasted and it is clearly plagiarized, then either my question was not the right question, or there is some reteaching that needs to be done, putting the onus back on me.
This of course does not apply to proceedural questions. I know in Math this is a huge struggle (especially with sites like Wolfram Alpha). It would be interested to know your thoughts.


Is this feature automatic?


Yes it is automatic!

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I’m glad to know that I am not the only split personality out there! As a math teacher, sites like wolfram alpha can make my life difficult. However, I am lucky enough to be in a district that has provided me with a tool to be able to lock my students’ computers. When they are taking a test, I am able to lock them into Formative and not other tabs or apps will be allowed to open. This prevents the cheating aspect, but not personal struggle. Let’s face it, if in the future my students need to calculate the volume of dirt they need to fill their garden, but can’t remember how…they will turn to Google or whatever future device/application is around at the time. They all also have calculators in their pockets 24/7 with their phones unlike what we had as students.

When I think about your situation, I wonder if there is a way to fine tune the anti-cheating feature so that the exact copied parts show in another color. This way, you will know if they have copied your sentence frames, the author’s name, etc.


Just to add on, it comes with Formative premium!

This is a super creative idea. I’d love to hear if it’d be helpful for others!


I know it would help math teachers with those calculation sites that kiddos could be using. There are certain things that I am ok with students copying and pasting like Mariana said…complicated names, etc. It would also help for documentation purposes and meeting with parents. Especially coupled with a printing feature.


I agree. I walk around constantly as well as watch their chromebook screens. Another idea would be to work towards applying the student centered approach where the teacher guides and asks probing questions, students discuss and then the teacher guides students through what they have learned.


I think this color coding idea would be awesome. This would definitely help identify which parts were copied and make quick determinations as to the cheating/no cheating aspect.


Thanks Mariana! I can see how this would be super helpful!

that will be great to see.


Wanted to put in my 2 cents; some of it overlaps. Thanks for reading anyway!

I was a music teacher in another life, so this is not something I struggled with in that course, unless I taught music appreciation or something. I did tutor math, and I was working with students who had access to the early versions of PhotoMath. My rationale when speaking with them was “Yes, you can use that to solve the problem. However, the issue is not whether you can solve this problem. It is whether or not you can use the logic and processes taught by solving the problem to solve other problems.”

That is the point we need to emphasize. Yes, they can cheat and get grades. Yes, that is a short-term solution. It will not serve them long-term. So it’s a twofold solution with a lot of work involved. Teach them to love to learn and we build questions/quizzes that require them to think.

Thanks for making me think on spring break! :slight_smile:

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My question is, “How does this feature deter cheating in a math class?” If the answers are correct, they should be the same. Unless the questions are different. Are the questions and answer choices randomized? Can there be different versions of the same question type? (Change the numbers)

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I had a student using Mathway a few semesters ago. She was earning As on classwork and homework. I didn’t think much of it until students tattled on her when she used it in class. I mentioned that, if used correctly, it was a powerful tool, but if used as a crutch, it would actually hurt her. One day a student called me out, “Aren’t you going to tell her to stop? Isn’t she going to get in trouble?” They were shocked when I said ‘no.’ I went on to explain that she can get all the As she wants on classwork and homework and still end up failing my class. I explained further that we use weighted grades and if she doesn’t try to solve the problem on her own, she WILL fail the test… and since that category is over half her grade, she WILL fail my class. However, if a student tried the problem, didn’t get the right answer in Formative, attempted to find their mistake and it STILL counted them wrong, that going to Mathway would actually HELP students find their mistake and learn from it.

Needless to say, she still kept using Mathway, in the open, and was only amused by her classmates tattling on her… until she got her first test back. It was an F. I used the opportunity to discuss Mathway again. This time. the girl listened. She changed the way she used Mathway. The classmates continued to tattle. The girl started to get upset during class, adamant that she was using it as a tool. It didn’t take long for her to come to me, asking me to help her get the kids to believe her. I told her that I could tell a difference in her work and that I believed her; if she wants to get her classmates to believe her, she needs to prove it to them by passing her test. Not only did she pass, but she got a B on it. Again, I used it as a teachable moment and praised her publicly for her hard work. She then went back to study the first test content and retook the test…and rocked that one, too. She ended up with a B for the semester.


I teach math. :slight_smile: It still picks up sections students copy and paste from online math tools. Even when I lost my ‘anti-cheating’ indicator (free trial ran out), I found that I could detect ‘cheaters’ fairly easily: (1) the negative/minus sign was longer than my keyboard could type, and (2) terms weren’t in the same order’ I had typed them for auto-grading. If I had a significant number of cheaters in a class, I would tell my Mathway story. When students asked how I knew they were cheating, I just simply said ‘Your answer contains symbols I don’t have on my keyboard.’ Privately, I would type a comment about using online math tools and to come see me about how to use it the right way.

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I have had this come up as well. Some of my students have copied words from the questions to ensure their spelling is correct or have copied the question entirely to correctly restate the question as part of their answer. But I must say, that by simply letting them know that I know something was off with their answer sent a message to the students. :slight_smile:

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