WAEC To Stop Cheating in exams with the "Same questions, different answer arrangement" method

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is to introduce a software which will detect malpractices in the objectives part of examinations conducted by the council, from 2015.

The software, known as Item Differentia Profile, will highlight candidates who cheat in its examinations.

The Head of WAEC, Very Rev. Samuel Nii Nmai Ollennu, made this known at a seminar to discuss a research paper he conducted on the impact of item position multiple-choice test on students’ performance at the Basic Education Certificate Examination level.

The item position multiple-choice test means that students will answer the same questions but the arrangement in order will differ from student to student.

According to Very Rev. Ollennu, the introduction of the software forms part of the efforts by the council to deal with examination malpractices among students.

He said the reordering method also had the potential to protect the credibility of certificates issued by the council.

Need for further study

However, Very Rev. Ollennu said there was the need for further study to find the appropriate adjustments to neutralise the impact of the reordering difference on performance and to provide better knowledge and understanding of the Item Differentia Profile.

That, he said, was important because his research on the impact of the reordering of items of a test on students’ performance at the BECE level in Ghana revealed that the change in item order would benefit some students while others would be disadvantaged.

“When the items are arranged from difficult to easy questions, the students perform poorly because they spend more time answering the difficult ones and before they finish, time will be far gone.

“However, students who get the easy items at the beginning, perform better because they get to answer the easy ones first before they get to the difficult ones”, he explained.

With a sample population of 810 junior high school students from 12 different schools, he said the research indicated that the proposition of using reordering method of a test might not be the best, especially in English Language, Mathematics and Science which were the subjects used for the research.

“We want to create that level grounds to benefit every student, we cannot use this system now because it will be to some students advantage while others would fail”, he said.

Therefore, Very Rev. Ollennu said, further research would be conducted before its implementation to give the findings a universal application.

Social implications
Very Rev. Ollennu explained that examination malpractices included bringing foreign materials into the examination hall and receiving help from invigilators, teachers and other personalities.

He, therefore, called on stakeholders including teachers and invigilators to help curb those practices.

For his part, the Principal Training Officer of the Human Resource Development, Mr Samuel Oppong Bekoe, said students were developing new ways to engage in examination malpractices hence the need for stakeholders to come up with strategic and new ways to stop them from destroying the credibility of the council.

Source: Daily Graphic