Best Practices in Authentication and Verification of Students in Online Education

Monday, 30 July 2012: 2:55 PM

Cheryl Mixon Smith, EdD, RN, FNP
Sheri R. Noviello, PhD, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the best practices in authentication and verification of students in online courses.

Learning Objective 2: Identify two strategies for decreasing the occurrence of cheating in online courses.

            Educators around the world are faced with increased cheating and plagiarism in college courses. Cheating has been considered a serious problem on college campuses for many years (Watson & Sottile, 2010). Universities with online programs are challenged to provide positive identification of students enrolled in online courses in response to the U.S. Higher Education Act. This act requires accrediting bodies to monitor the efforts of colleges and universities in this process. Although college students cheat in face-to-face classes, faculty and students feel the potential for online cheating is greater. However, the evidence shows that the mode of content delivery does not have an affect on the occurrence of cheating (Watson & Sottile, 2010). When asked, a large majority of students felt it was easier to cheat in an online class (King, Guyette, & Piotrowski, 2009).  Hiring someone to take an exam or complete course requirements, as well as plagiarizing on written assignments are challenges that faculty in nursing programs must overcome regardless of the mode of course delivery. A major legal-ethical aspect of online teaching is verifying that the student who enrolls in and receives credit for a course is the same student who completes the exams and course work.

            Administrators and educators are prompted to address the rampant problems of cheating with authentication and verification of students in college courses. Best practices in online education to reduce cheating and plagiarism, as well as authentication and verification of student participation through the use of types of commercial products will be discussed.


 King, C., Guyette, R., & Piotrowski, C. (2009). Online exams and cheating: An empirical analysis of business students’ views. The Journal of Educators Online, 6(1) 1-11

 Watson, G. & Sottile, J. (2010, Spring). Do students cheat more in online courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning, 13(1).