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OK google: what’s the answer? characteristics of students who searched the internet during an online chemistry examination

journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-01, 00:00 authored by Madeleine SchultzMadeleine Schultz, Kieran LimKieran Lim, Y K Goh, Damien CallahanDamien Callahan
Restrictions on movement during the COVID-19 pandemic led to assessment being conducted online, which gave students opportunities to use internet search engines during examinations. We found that in some cases internet searches resulted in characteristic incorrect responses, and around one third of students entered these answers to examination questions in a foundation chemistry unit. Classification of those students allowed us to analyse their performance on other assessment tasks and we found that students who used an internet search and input incorrect results performed worse across all assessment tasks. Use of online proctoring and an academic honesty module in subsequent semesters reduced the percentage of students entering incorrect answers found though internet searches. We explored the relationship between students’ prior knowledge, investment in content and self-efficacy with the use of internet searches during their examination. We found significant correlations with prior knowledge and investment, but not with self-efficacy. Our data calls for better authentication of online assessment, because in most cases internet searches give correct responses and so it is impossible to be sure that a student has generated the response. We propose guidelines to reduce the use of search engines during examinations. Supplemental data for this article is available online at



Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education


1 - 17


Taylor & Francis


London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal