Statistical Methods of Detecting Copying on Multiple Choice Tests: A Review and an Application
Researchers consistently elicit surprise and dismay when they report on the pervasiveness of academic
dishonesty. Cheating on examinations, and in particular the practice of copying answers from other
students, has spurred educators to devise statistical methods that can expose it. This paper surveys
the main issues in the copy detection field, examining four methods in detail. I apply these techniques
to data taken from a university examination, and I compare the four with respect to ease of calculation,
prevalence of use, and rates of sensitivity and specificity. I also give an overview of other copy
detection methods, discussing key issues to consider, limitations that apply, and factors that inhibit
the adoption of these techniques. An appendix briefly touches on the detection of cheating by impersonation
and by improper erasures.
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copyright 2007-2012 by roland b. stark.