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Abstract

The availability of online computerized assessments is increasing, especially for economics principles courses. A severe limitation of online assessments is the possibility of cheating. Scant information is available on student preferences, behavior, and learning that is accomplished when online assessments are completed either independently or in team settings. This study investigates the performance of students in a macro-economics principles course that recently adopted online assessment with an "open book, open friend" policy. Several strategies were developed that encouraged students to learn the material independently. Data were collected throughout the semester to quantify the number of students who actually did have a friend assist them during assessment and whether or not the presence of a friend improved assessment results. Results of the analysis show that most students complete online assessments independently, even when assistance from a friend is permitted. Over half of the class did not rely on a friend and the remaining students utilized a friend's help only periodically. Use of a friend's help steadily declined over the semester. Moreover, students routinely consulted the same friend as opposed to seeking assistance from a wide variety of people. Only limited assistance was obtained from friends who were not enrolled in the class. The overall impact of a friend's assistance on student performance was marginally positive but statistically insignificant.

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