At the start of the final exam for “Principles of Accounting I,” the team of professors who taught the popular course posted on its Web site an answer key loaded with false responses to the 30 multiple-choice questions. As some 400 students deliberated over their answers, the exam proctors sat and watched — ignoring occasionally suspicious noises coming from a few cellphones, according to some of the test takers.–Brock Read —Wired for Cheating: Some professors go beyond honor codes to stop misuse of electronic devices (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Is this entrapment? If I were to leave my office door open, with a fake answer key visible near the door, would that be entrapment?
The detail about proctors (who were supposedly there to enforce a “no Internet” rule) deliberately ignoring evidence that students were cheating is a bit troubling.
When I do create quizzes, I often put misinformation in the “attractors” (that is, the wrong answers that sound believable) in multiple-choice questions. One of my favorite questions is a list of four plausible things that didn’t occur in a story, and one implausible thing that did.
In my American Lit course last term, several students who hadn’t read a particular book on the syllabus tried to glean plot details from the multiple choice questions, and tried to fake short answer questions and essay questions based on that misinformation.
I don’t mean petty details, such as “Huck eats two berries” or “Huck eats three berries”. I might describe a character reacting in a plausible way to a nonexistent plot twist, or invent a subplot that gives a minor character a pivotal role.
I do teach classes in which I expect students to use the Internet — for instance, when they have to demonstrate their ability to create and upload a small web site. I’ll tell students they can bring in a template if they want, but I won’t give them the client’s identity or the subject of the website until the last minute. (In the past, I’ve had them write for an eccentric who loves the color green, or to write about Rainbow Hector.)
Still, if I taught classes with hundreds of students, and I suspected that cheating was rampant, I’d probably want to be very aggressive about it. But I rarely give final exams, since there’s really no effective way to test writing ability via multiple-choice exams.