Measuring and Maximizing the Effectiveness of Honor Codes in Online Courses

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, Nakull Gupta, Curtis Northcutt, Edward Cutrell, and William Thies

Work-in-progress paper
Learning at Scale (L@S)
March 14-15, 2015, Vancouver, Canada

  • Paper: PDF (199 KB)

We measure the effectiveness of a traditional honor code at deterring cheating in an online examination, and we compare it to that of a stern warning. Through experimental evaluation in a 409-student online course, we find that a pre-task warning leads to a significant decrease in the rate of cheating while an honor code has a smaller (non-significant) effect. Unlike much prior work, we measure the rate of cheating directly and we do not rely on potentially inaccurate post-examination surveys. Our findings demonstrate that replacing traditional honor codes with warnings could be a simple and effective way to deter cheating in online courses.