Biometrics Could Help Combat Cheating On Exams

The group that oversees Britain’s curriculum and examination systems published a report that recommends biometrics, nanotechnology and other high-tech means to combat cheating during academic and professional exams.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority commissioned the report, "Digital Technologies and Dishonesty in Examinations and Tests," from Nottingham Trent University. While debate continues over whether digital technology is contributing to an increase in cheating, it points out that technology is providing new means for cheating and challenges for those trying to stop it.

Jean Underwood, who authored the university report, identified Internet plagiarism and the use of mobile technology for crib sheets or communicating with peers as the main culprits. The report, released this week, proposes solutions such as encrypted tests and the use of biometrics to prevent
impersonation might be of particular value for test centres where students are unknown to the invigilating staff.

The report also notes that biometric identification verification methods installed on the user’s computer can determine whether the named student or an impersonator is sitting an examination (e.g.The Ergotest system). Biometric identification is seen as a way forward for examining distance learning courses or students sitting in centres where they are unlikely to be known by the invigilators.

Link to report: Digital Technologies and Dishonesty in Examinations and Tests : http://www.qca.org.uk

Jean Underwood
Nottingham Trent University
December 2006