Use Of Technology To Curb Examination Malpractices Information Technology Essay

Academic Malpractices are on the increase across the world. It is a threat to the society and public trust in reliability and credibility. Among the many causes are increasing participation in formal education, and competition to gain credentials for educational, occupational and social advancement. Examinations have become a major and universal means to assess achievement. University degree is a prerequisite for getting a job or for further study. It is the only criteria to select qualified individuals for further study and employment. Students are judged on the basis of the outcome of the examination to be fit for further assignment. With the increase in the pressure associated with achievement, the demand for the qualification grows and with the increase in competition among students and between institutions, the risk of academic Malpractices and cheating by students and by education institutions is also increasing. There are many instances about cheating, fake identity and other ill practices taking place in the examination centre. This opens enormous opportunities for corrupt practices. In this paper we have discussed the use of ICT to curb malpractice in the examination hall.

Keywords – GER, ICT, AIES, PID, Malpractices.

INTRODUCTION

In Indian higher education system there is many fold increase in its institutional capacity since independence. As per University Grants Commission (2008) report titled “Higher Education in India-Issues related to expansion, inclusiveness, quality and finance”, the number of universities in India has increased from 20 in 1950 to about 431 in 2008, colleges from 500 in 1950 to 20,677 in 2008 and enrolment of students has increased from mere 100,000 in 1950 to 11,612,000 in 2008 [1]. Manually management of bulk amount of data is very tedious, time-consuming and error prone task leaving some space for malpractice and frauds at various level. Effective management and transparency are the key factors to curb malpractice and academic fraud. ICT in general and Internet in particular without any doubt has the immense potential as a tool for transparency and effective management. According to Norris [2] the public has lost faith in the performance of the core institutions of representative government, and it is hoped that more open and transparent government and more efficient service delivery could help restore that trust. Thomas and Streib [3] has proposed as E-Governance as one of the best solution for delivery of government information and services online via the Internet or other digital means. It can improve communication between citizens and government through email, enabling more direct participation in government decision-making.

In examination system, the data is of very sensitive type, any compromise with it can mar the career of the students and any fiddling with the integrity of such data can lead to mistrust on the academic system as a whole.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Fraud in education is just like a corruption. Anechiarico and Jacobs, Kalnins has defined the education corruption just like a general set of corruption issues. Like other areas, it includes the abuse of authority for material gain [4,5]. From the perspective of social development, corruption in education is worse than corruption in other areas because it contains both immoral and illegal elements.

Examination malpractice occurs both within and outside the examination halls. It is perpetrated by students, staff and other external agents before, during and even after examinations. Many strategies applied to curb examination malpractices within the university system tend to be ineffective. The case of fake marks sheet of student of BA 2nd year was surfaced in Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, India. This was published in various newspapers. Tribune, Hindustan Times and Indian Express (2010) highlighted this issue and various report related with this incident was published in the newspaper [6,7]. In fact, new devices for perpetrating examination malpractices grow by leaps and bounds on campuses, making such strategies look as if they are addressing the symptoms rather than the root causes. This situation might not be unconnected with the fact that student culprits are usually targeted by these strategies, brushing aside the contributory roles of other university members in the ultimate act. The timeliness and effectiveness of the disciplinary measures meted out to culprits have also been faulted [8]. In order to get through the examinations, students use several kinds of malpractices. According to Adewale (2004), “Examination malpractice is a bottleneck associated with the conduct of examinations [9]. The forms of examination malpractice include bringing in foreign materials; irregular activities inside and outside examination hall; collusion; impersonation; leakage; mass cheating; insult/assault on supervisors and others.” Ogunsannya, (2004) in his study found that laziness, unseriousness, uncompleted syllabus, fear of failure and poor reading skills were recognized by students as causes of examination malpractices [10]. Wilayat (2009) identified several negative effects of malpractices used in examinations like- discourage good candidates from studying hard, deny innocent students’ opportunity for admission, delay the processing of examination scores and grades, dissatisfy candidates, and decrease job efficiency[11].

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EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE IN UNIVERSITY EXAMINATION

Examination malpractice is as old as examination itself. Yakubu and Edokpa has described examination malpractice as a cankerworm [12]. In spite of stiff penalties, examination malpractice is growing in leaps and bounds at all levels in educational system. Students, teachers, administrators, parents, examination invigilators and supervisors, custodians of examination materials, officials of examination bodies and law enforcement agents are involved.

Examination malpractice, as an antisocial behaviour, has in recent times attracted the attention of stakeholders in the education industry [13]. The phenomenon has been defined in various ways by teachers, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists and educational administrators. University of Port Harcourt Academic Policies [14] defines examination malpractice as all forms of cheating which directly or indirectly falsify the ability of the students.

Malpractice may occur at three points, before examination, during examination and after examination.

a. Forms of examination malpractice before or after examinations include:

obtaining set of questions;

modifying student’s score cards, answer scripts and/or mark sheets;

submitting project, laboratory and/or field report not prepared or written by the students themselves ;

breaking into staff or departmental offices in order to obtain question papers, answer scripts or mark sheets, or substituting a fresh answer script for the original scripts; and soliciting for examiner’s help in order to pass examination.

b. Forms of examination malpractice during examinations include:

using another person to sit for an examination on behalf of a candidate;

bringing in prepared answers/copying from textbooks, notebooks, laboratory;

specimens or any other instructional aids smuggled into the examination hall;

collaborating with an invigilator to cheat in the examination hall;

communicating or attempting to communicate between/among examinees;

copying or attempting to copy other student’s work/answers in examinations;

submitting or attempting to submit a new prepared answer script as a substitute for the original script after an examination;

non-submission of answer script at the end of an examination;

illegal removal of answer scripts from the examination hall.

The use of unfair means in examination is a plague on our education system. Educational institutions are experiencing an ever increasing trend towards the use of unfair means in examinations and they are unable to stop this drive. The intensity and pervasiveness of this problem can be gauged from the fact that apart from the students, some parents too positively intervene and help and facilitate their children in their cheating adventures. The use of unfair means in examinations in certain areas has indeed become a thriving business for the examination mafia.

Range from leakage of question papers to copying, changing answer books, impersonation, misconduct in examination centre, approaching invigilators/ examiners, making false entries in award list/ examination registers and issuing fake certificate/degrees etc. Such acts may be broadly categorised as follows

Allotment of choice examination centre.

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Appointment of choice invigilating staff.

Leaking information about question papers, identification of invigilating staff and paper setters/examiners.

Bribing/influencing/terrorising examination staff, invigilators and paper setters/examiners.

Possessing cheating material (written/printed/electronic device etc) or copying from such material.

Giving/receiving assistance to copy in examination centre.

Changing/replacing roll numbers and answer books.

Disclosing candidates’ identity in answer books.

Misconduct, carrying offensive weapons, refusing/resisting the lawful orders of supervisory staff, creating disturbance, instigating other candidates, threatening or assaulting the invigilating staff, impeding the progress of examination, in or outside the examination.

Smuggling answer books in or outside the examination centre.

Addition to answer books after examination.

Manipulating marks through fictitious entries in award list/examination register.

Sale of examination centre to organised gangs where cheating/unfair means are arranged.

Helping the candidates to use unfair means in any form and by any one in or outside the examination centre.

Helping the candidates in viva voce, practical examination.

Attempting or abetting the commission of any of the afore-said acts.

Any other act considered dishonest, unfair, corrupt etc.

EFFECTS OF EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE

There are many bad effects of malpractice, it affects students efficiency and at the same time the credibility of the university is also at stake. Some of the main bad effects of malpractices are discussed below:

Discourage good candidates from studying hard: Good candidates are tempted to believe ‘if u cannot beat them, join them’ especially as they see other candidates get away with their corrupt behaviors. This behavior may be contagious as more and more candidates tend to join in examination malpractice. They believe that even if they are caught, they will get away with it and the end will justify the means.

Denies innocent students’ opportunity for admission: Many good students have been denied admission by the corrupt ones who through examination malpractice have better scores and grades. The best brains that could help in research and development are likely to be thrown out or frustrated while seeking admission.

Delays the processing of examination scores and grades : Every year, many students are caught for engaging in various examinations malpractices which needs to be investigated before results are released. Though some results are withheld pending the determination of the cases, some are decided before results are released. This extends processing time.

Dissatisfies candidates: Candidates who possess fake certificates are not bold enough to defend their certificates.. They have psychological problems arising from the way they acquired their certificates.

Decreases job efficiency: This has a serious implication on the gross domestic product of the country. It also has effect on the general quality and standard. Imagine the havoc of a half backed medical doctor could wreck on human lives. What about teachers who cannot competently handle the subject they are trained to teach. There is a chain effect of examination malpractices on the educational system and the society as a whole. A doctor with fake degree was doing practice in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, India for 15 years [15].

V. EFFECTIVE USE OF ICT IN UNIVERSITY EXAMINATION SYSTEM TO CHECK MALPRACTICES

In Indian context, university system is reforming itself by introducing transparency, better management and effective usage of ICT. The examination system within a university bears the brunt of increasing number of student enrolment whereas ICT promises better handling of data, ease of access and user friendliness. However, while introducing ICT, enforcing data security is imperative otherwise it will be subjected to numerous cyber threats i.e. unauthorized disclosure, modification or destruction. The Automated Integrated Examination System (AIES) is need of the hour with appropriate security measures. If effective measures and architecture are introduced in the Indian University examination system, it will go a long way to instill efficiency in the examination system and will be able to check the examination malpractices and fraudulent acts associated with the management of examination system.

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Centralised database will help in reducing the redundancy in database in addition to maintaining consistency, integrity and security of data. The AIES will lead to effective monitoring of Examination related processes by the concerned authorities (the possibility of occurrence frauds will be minimised). The centralised system will facilitate in integrating all sections/ units/ departments/ colleges who are affiliated to the University and will bring the system under a single umbrella. This will definitely improve the efficiency at workplace. The proposed system will create a secure, robust and permanent database of students who have enrolled with the university.

ISSUING OF PERMANENT IDENTITY CARD (PID)

Photo of the Student

PID-

Signature of the candidate

Name of Student:Candidate who are enrolled with the university and are eligible to appear in the opted examination will be provided with Permanent Identification Card (PID). This PID will be unique number and will be required for all the queries. PID will be supplied to the candidate and can also be downloaded from the website. In PID, photograph and signature of the candidate will be shown, which will help in checking authenticity of the candidate.

Fig. 1 Permanent Identification Number of student

STEPS TO CURB MALPRACTICE IN THE EXAMINATION HALL

Student’s registration

PID Card issued

Swipe through Card reader

Verification from Integrated Exam System through Web interface

Attendance Sheet generated

Exam Day

Students will be informed through e-mail about their examination centre or he can enquire about his centre in the university website. Card reader will be established well in advance in the exam centres. For appearing in exam, student will have to bring PID card at the allocated centre. He can enter in the examination hall only by swiping his PID card through card reader. After validating his credentials he will be allowed to enter the examination hall. Authentication of an individual’s identity is a fundamental component of physical and logical access control processes. Access authorization to computers and database can be authenticated through user ID and password, this will signify attendance and validate the identity and verify the person with the photograph. Students who are sitting in the examination centres have to write PID on the answer sheets also. It is mandatory for the student to write his PID on the answer sheet otherwise his answer sheet will not be evaluated.

Fig. 2 Diagrammatic representation to swipe PID in the examination centre

VIII.CONCLUSION

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is making an ever stronger impact on country’s culture, society, economy and public administration, at the macro as well as micro levels. Applications of computing technologies and the use of modern communication technologies trigger effects of broad variety. Rapid advances in information technology play a vital significance to stay connected with global trends and to remain competitive. The AIES will lead to effective monitoring of Examination related processes by the concerned authorities (the possibility of occurrence frauds will be minimised). This system will surely help in reducing errors which otherwise are caused by human intervention and will definitely minimize malpractice in the examination system.

Authors Details

Mohini is a Programmer in Computer Centre, Himachal Pradesh University. She is Master in Computer Application and pursuing Ph. D. from Himachal Pradesh University. Her areas of interest are Software Development and E-Governance. She can be reached at: [email protected]

Amar Jeet Singh has been teaching in Department of Computer Science, Himachal Pradesh University Shimla, India, since 1992. At present he is designated as Associate Professor. He has done Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Technology from NIT Bhopal (1991), M. Sc. in Distributed Information Systems from University of East London (1996) and Ph. D. from Himachal Pradesh University (2005). His areas of interest are E-Governance, Distributed Information Systems, ICT for Development and impact of ICT on Society. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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