What is educational data forensics?

In concise terms educational data forensics is the technical investigation of data which candidates produce during their exams, to detect whether they have cheated.

The word ‘forensics’ is often associated with criminal, technical investigation following an offence, to gather evidentiary material. Detecting evidence is also an important objective of educational data forensics. The words ‘educational’ and ‘data’ refer to the context in which the technical investigation is performed: an educational setting, where the emphasis is on analysing exam data.

Video Xquiry Educational Data Forensics

Aberrant response behaviour

Candidates who cheat undertake their exams differently to those who do it honestly. Among other things this is apparent in the length of time they take to answer questions (response time), how they navigate through the exam, how often they revise answers (answer changing behaviour), the sequence of correct answers to difficult and easy questions (Guttman score), etc. So for instance someone using a smartphone takes longer to answer a question than an honest candidate. Xquiry detects aberrant response behaviour through educational data forensics analysis.

Xquiry software Educational Data Forensics

The Xquiry software

Xquiry has developed software which can identify aberrant response behaviour very reliably. Algorithms in the software have been set up in such a way that candidates who exhibit aberrant behaviour are detected automatically. Xquiry then indicates that a particular candidate scores highly on one or more fraud indices. These scientifically-established indices are numerical values indicating how divergent a candidate’s behaviour is. For example a figure that expresses how very slowly or rapidly someone has answered a particular question.

Further investigation

Candidates identified by the analysis can be investigated further. Previous results can be checked, for instance, or the invigilator’s report can be requested. Not only individual candidates, but also groups of candidates can be analysed in this way, which means you can also check at the examination, supervisor or location level.

Good to know

In principle, educational data forensics can be applied to all types of exam, both on paper and digital, random or fixed. Even to examinations with open questions. What is important is that the individual examination items are conducted at least 250 times. You do not need an advanced (digital) testing system to enable analysis. It may however be the case that not all the analysis methods can be performed, because no data may be available for them. For example, a lack of response time data on a paper-based exam.

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