This is an age old question that isn’t tied to using online homework. Back in the day, students would pay other people to do their pencil and paper homework. Now, they can do the same thing online--but with a wider pool of people willing to "help". So how can you as an instructor combat cheating, so that your homework scores follow the same general patterns as your test scores? Here are a few ideas from users:
Erika Martinez, an economics professor at University of South Florida, has a variety of assignments for students, including watching videos, completing the LearningCurve adaptive quizzes, and having the students complete worksheets (or do in-class activities). All of this work is for points, but very few points. Then she has a weekly homework assignment (which is essentially considered the summation of everything learned that week) that is worth 0 points. She tracks the students who complete the assignments, but they don’t get credit for the completion as part of their overall grade. (They do get flagged by Prof. Martinez if they are not doing the work as no points doesn’t mean optional!) Then she has the students complete weekly quizzes (for points) as well as 2 bigger tests and a final. In this way, students come to see the homework as practice and self-assessment, not as a reason to cheat.
Amanda Norbutus, a chemistry professor at Valencia College explains that while she is willing for students to have multiple attempts at a problem, she has Achieve deduct small points each attempt (5%), so a student has to actively work to solve the problem effectively. With this method, students are more actively mentally engaged with doing the work, and develop better problem-solving skills that serve them well in high-stress situations like a quiz or exam. She theorizes that the lack of any penalty makes it too easy for students to “throw a handful of pasta at the ceiling to see what sticks,” without needing the student to critically think of how to approach a problem and culling through their knowledge to find a working solution/approach.
Dr. Norbutus also suggests making sure the homework assigned has a range of easy, medium, and hard skill level questions , as exposing students only to easy and medium-level questions is a disservice to them in building their skill set for solving problems quickly and efficiently. Professors could also use more problem-solving worksheets or practice assignments either in class or as part of bonus work. If for bonus, make sure they are tiered problems, where the problem requires the use of more than one skill or concept. Finally, have the teacher select one handwritten problem for students to solve and submit with work shown per HW assignment. This can quickly identify where students may have a disconnect between high scoring Achieve assignments and low scoring quizzes and exams.
Kiandra Johnson, a mathematics professor at Spelman College, suggested two simple, easy, and effective ideas. Use clicker questions during the lecture as many of the clicker questions are concept-based and cannot be entered into a mathematical database. This is a way to check individual student understanding outside of the homework. Additionally, use a few problems directly from the homework on the test , and analyze the difference between how students performed on those same problems in homework form vs. on the test.
A few instructors mentioned versions of this as well, “ We’ve tried to emphasize the importance of the assignments with lots of explanations about why we create these assignments and how they can improve understanding (and grades!) but also try to weight those assignments low enough in the grade to de-incentivize cheating."
We hope this tips help you as you work to navigate an increasingly digital world with your students.
(A note from Macmillan here: If you do think that you are seeing some of our problems appearing on other sites, with answers, please report these to our piracy team so we can continue to work to maintain the integrity of our content. Thank you! )
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Here at Macmillan Learning, we understand that not every student, course or institution is exactly alike. Which is why we want to provide instructors with the freedom to create course materials that fit the goals and objectives of their course. By giving instructors the ability to combine their own original content with Macmillan Learning content, we can create the best custom solution to meet your needs. And the best part is we can do this in an easily accessible, digital format!
What can we customize?
Anything we publish! The Macmillan Curriculum Solutions team is able to customize e-books as well as our digital courseware solutions, Achieve and LaunchPad. We are able to add exciting interactive content to all of these platforms to give your students a digital courseware experience that meets them right where they are, online. With features available ranging from additional readings, assessments, videos and other interactive content, we’ve got you covered.
What do other instructors do to customize their courseware or e-book?
As Macmillan’s Custom Marketing Manager, I’ve seen some amazing projects come across my desk recently. Some of the most unique and interesting projects involve incorporating local students into the content. Seeing their peers reflected in their course materials can be incredibly impactful for your students. And whether it is profiles of current and former students, pictures, video or artwork produced by students, or exemplary student projects used as examples, all of these are options in customizing Macmillan courseware.
Outside of incorporating students into their project, many instructors include videos, interactives or other dynamic content they have created. Some instructors organize their projects around a theme that involves a selection read by the entire school, freshman class, or cohort. This creates an opportunity for meaningful conversations among students, faculty, and sometimes even the author of that reading selection.
How does it work?
Customization is a collaborative effort! Your Macmillan Learning sales representative will work with you and an editor from our Curriculum Solutions department to create the custom courseware that works best for you and your students. We provide guidance on selecting content, proofreading services and clear all permissions necessary to get your content ready by the start of the semester. Most projects take anywhere from 3-6 months to complete depending on complexity, but the time and the effort are all worth it!
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There will be maintenance to LaunchPad, Sapling, and FlipIt from 12:01am Eastern until 7:00am Eastern (7 hours) on Sunday morning, November 8. None of those products will be available during that time. In additional, all assessments in Achieve will be unavailable during those 7 hours (although other parts of Achieve like the e-book and videos will be useable during that time). A notice will go up in the relevant systems 7 days in advance to alert students to this work, although we pick Sunday AM as the time to do this maintenance as it's when historically we have the lowest number of users in our products. Please make any adjustments to your assignments and sleep in (or go to bed early or nap then, if you're in a different time zone) and thanks for your patience with us.
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When we first started bringing students into Macmillan Learning’s Austin office (remember those days!) to give us their feedback on Achieve, we asked them all sorts of questions to help figure out how we were going to design and develop, and later, improve, Achieve. One thing that students told us over and over, regardless of school type or major, was that they needed more tools to help them succeed as students generally, outside of the course-specific content.
With this information in mind, continuing to work with students and instructors, we’ve come up with a series of Goal-setting and Reflection Surveys.
What is the content? At the beginning of the semester, a new, optional Intro Survey asks students to consider their goals for the class and to think about how they plan to manage their time and learning strategies. Later, Checkpoint surveys get students to reflect on what's been working and what has not so that they can decide to make changes on their own. Each survey that students complete generates a report that gives instructors a bigger picture of how their class is doing beyond their grades. While the surveys are most effective when used throughout the semester, it’s never too late to assign a Checkpoint survey to encourage self-reflection. (See below for sample reports.)
Where can I find this content? Under the new Innovation Lab label in each Achieve course's Resources, you will find Achieve's new Goal-setting and Reflection Surveys, a series of short, assignable surveys that accomplish exactly what the name implies: goal-setting and self-reflection at key points across the semester.
What is the status of this project? This content is still a work in progress. We want instructors to use these surveys with their students this fall and then give us feedback on how things went, so we can continue to revise and improve this content.
How can I get involved? All you need to do is assign the surveys and we will reach out to you with more information.
What do the reports look like? Here are two sample screenshots to give you an idea. (They look great, I think!) You can find the reports in an Innovation Lab tab in the Reports area of Achieve.
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Test Security - We have had a number of instructors ask us about test security, and we also know that a lot of your schools already have programs for proctoring and browser lockdown. As such, we are not adding our own options for proctoring and lockdown (and be forced to charge for it accordingly), but rather we are providing more tools to make exporting our tests to load into your campus LMS easier. Directions to export a test created with Macmillan Learning Test Bank into your LMS are here .
In addition, each of the individual digital products that we offer have tools to help with test security. You can read through those options here . And we had a very useful webinar with Eric Chiang where he reviewed ideas for test security.
Lastly, we have moved most of our test banks to the Macmillan Learning Test Bank, accessible only only to a verified instructor. With this system you can:
Create paper or online tests that you can export to your LMS using your web browser;
Drag and drop questions to create tests;
Create and edit your own questions and edit publisher-created question sets.
Learn more here: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/article/Getting-Started-with-the-Macmillan-Learning-Test-Bank .
Engaging Students - We know that one of the biggest concerns if you end up moving to a fully or partially online class is keeping students engaged. While each of our products have active aspects, we are proud to offer the market's leading student engagement solution, iClicker. Our attendance feature automates taking roll, then you can choose from flexible polling & quizzing options to engage, check understanding and get feedback from students in real time. Best of all, iClicker works seamlessly with your existing content and any other software or tools you'd like to use in your virtual, hybrid or in-person class. We also have great webinars on fostering student curiosity and engaging students online that I’d recommend.
Volume / Load - We anticipate that many more instructors are likely to try digital solutions for their students as classes are moving to hybrid or fully online options this fall. As such, we have been planning for a large uptick in student usage and making adjustments to our servers accordingly. We feel very good about our preparedness for a significant increase in student users in all of our platforms.
Instructor Training on Digital Products - We are anticipating that a lot more instructors are going to be in need of training with more digital product usage and with changing class formats. Beyond our standard training options, including time with our Learning Solutions team and our self-help documentation , we are also doing intensive training with our entire team so we have more people available to train you. In addition, there are help guides within the products and we have a group of Faculty Consultants (colleagues) who are also available to help. For this to be successful, however, we request that you don’t wait until the day or two before classes start before you request training. 🙂
Professional Development - Throughout the spring and summer, we conducted a wide variety of webinars with a number of our fabulous authors and customers and we recorded all of those webinars. You can find all the recordings here , and they cover both general teaching tips (Online Teaching, Inclusive Teaching) as well as tips for particular disciplines or products. Check out the options!
Student Training on Digital Products - We will continue to add to and refine our First Day of Class Materials for students for you to send to students or use on the first day of class so they know what you are asking them to do online, why, and how to get started.
Customer Support - Our fantastic customer support team stands at the ready to help you and your students with any issues that may arise. You can find the team (as well as a variety of help articles) online here: https://macmillan.force.com/macmillanlearning/s/
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