This study compared the effect of group take-home tests with individually assigned take-home tests on the students’ in-class exam performance. The researcher considered the presence of free riding, that was categorized as a form of cheating in both individual- and group-assigned take-home tests. The sample included 86 undergraduates enrolled in a second introductory level course in an undergraduate division at a college in the southeastern United States. The overall objective of this study was to engage students in collaborative (group) take-home tests and to assess if such engagement would provide comparatively useful outcome as individually performed take-home tests, hoping that introduction of students to collaborative work while in college would enhance their preparation for required collaborative work in corporate environment. Analysis of the data showed that (1) there is more tendency to free ride (cheat) while performing group-assigned take-home tests than individual-assigned take-home tests, (2) that low-performing students are more likely to cheat than the high-performing students, (3) despite the cheating tendency of the low-performing students, low-performing students benefited from the use of the individual-assigned take-home tests than the group-assigned take-home tests, (4) the high-performing students did not have a significant difference in the benefit they derived from individual and group take-home tests, (5) Take-home tests provide positive and significant effects on students’ performance after controlling for the ability and past-performance of the students, and (6) the pre-requisite to the course provided more explanation for students’ performance in the course for which it was a pre-requisite than either the GPA or take-home test. The limitations and areas of additional research are provided.
Take-home tests, individual take-home tests, group take-home tests, free riding, diffusion of responsibility, social loafing, collaborative work, procedural justice, pre-requisites.